The Crusader Newspaper Group

Veteran center struggles in the face of major redevelopment

By RTW Veteran Center

As Memorial Day approaches where we celebrate our countries fallen heroes, RTW Veteran Center, a mainstay for the last 7 years in the Washington Park community as a front line organization is embattled in a struggle to keep their building and continue their services. Recently the note holder on the property is threatening to force a sale of the property if the center cannot make a scheduled almost $47,500 balloon payment which was scheduled for May 7th 2017.

The note the center signed in 2015 to purchase the building from the company that owned the building was only for three years. The center put down $30,000 dollars and agreed to pay interest only payments every month on the balance owed with staggered balloon payments in May 2016 and May 2017, and the remaining balance on the note to be paid by May 2018. In May of 2016 the center made their scheduled balloon payment of $32,500. Prior to 2015, the center made rental payments to the company that owned the note on the property every month.

The center has made regular interest only payments every month over the last two years totaling more than $19,000 along with paying close to $62,500 (down payment and 1st balloon payment) in principal payments toward the purchase price of the building. The owners of the note in trying to work with the center has agreed to give the center until May 31st to pay at least thirty thousand dollars of the balloon payment due in May 2017 and the balance of the balloon payment due by the end of June or they will have to force the sale of the building so they can satisfy their investors.

Multi million dollars in development to be spent on property adjacent to the center

Some estimate that the property is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 and is steady rising do to major development one block away with over 25 million dollars to be spent on redoing the CTA green line station on 55th street and another additional multimillion dollars to be spent on property adjacent to the center by the University of Chicago developing an arts center. The University owns most of the property in the area adjacent to the center and has made a major redevelopment commitment to the area.

The center has been in the news as the Obama presidential library location was being decided between Washington Park and Jackson Park which eventually won as the site for the library. Prior to that the center had been reported many times in the newspapers along with receiving national attention and recognition for the many services it provided to veterans in the community. The local VA hospitals have sent clients to the center on a regular basis for help, the center is a private non-for-profit IRS 501-C3 manned by volunteers and funded by donations.


The organization, open 360 days per year until recently, provided the basic needs of humanity; food, shelter, clothing, and economic empowerment along with helping to heal broken warriors. The center serviced homeless veterans and others in need included youth in crisis.

The founders, a Vietnam era service connected disabled retired army veteran and his wife, who led a team of volunteers that kept the center open, has been dealing with their own personal illnesses as the years of long hours of dedicated work took its toll on his wife in the latter part of 2015 who was the mainstay of the organization. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and other illnesses from which she is now in slow recovery. Other military veterans stepped up to operate the center who had been volunteering since 2012 along with financial support from veteran organizations from as far away as North Carolina. Recently the community engagement department of the University of Chicago, which has been working with the center as one of their preferred community organizations, committed to help the center utilize the Universities facilities to assist in fundraising. Other commitments have come in from organizations to train and support the center in stabilizing its fundraising department and help the center become a self-sustaining entity. Many student organizations at the university over the years have been engaging with the center as volunteers to serve the center’s client base.


The center is liquidating assets as fast as they can along with promised additional help but in the classic scene, as Memorial Day approaches and the embattled soldiers are surrounded and fighting for their lives, will the Calvary come over the hill in time to save the day.

A “GO FUND ME” page has been set up through the centers website, and you can contact US Retired Army Veteran, “Doc” Habeel, who is the current board President, at 800 974-2808 for any aid and assistance.

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