Four months after Mark Pringle moved into Hollywood House, he still can’t believe how his bad luck turned to good fortune.
For 14 years, Pringle lived in the same apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood. After being hospitalized for two months, however, he returned home to find his things boxed up in the basement—he had been evicted. Living on a small Social Security check, with no money for a security deposit, he moved to a transient hotel near Wrigley Field. A month later, a friend who was storing Pringle’s possessions stopped by with more bad news: a fire had destroyed it all.
“I said to myself, ‘I don’t have anything. I’m going to run out of money. I’ll just be sleeping in the streets,” the 62-year-old Pringle says. “I was asking God if He could just let me die. I said, ‘I can’t live like this.’”
Then Pringle heard about Hollywood House, an apartment building in the Edgewater neighborhood that provides affordable housing for seniors. Pringle moved into Hollywood House at the end of a massive, nearly two-year renovation that put all new appliances, paint, and carpet in every one of the 197 units and installed heating and cooling upgrades, energy-efficient lighting, and more.
Hollywood House is part of Heartland Alliance’s plan to provide more services to seniors. “We understand the needs that come with an elderly population, especially at-risk seniors,” says Michael Goldberg, executive director of Heartland Housing.
At Hollywood House, Heartland Alliance takes the lead on planning events for residents and helping coordinate services for those who need them, from help with shopping to connecting residents to in-home medical care.
Pringle moved in last April, and he says everything has been improving ever since. He’s gotten furniture, clothing, and pots and pans from the staff at the front desk and from a local church where he’s become a regular. While he was fearful of leaving his room at the transient hotel, he now goes out daily and spends time on the terrace, talking with other tenants. “I leave my door open here. I never could do that before,” he says.
“It’s like I’m not afraid here,” Pringle says with tears in his eyes. “I never would have thought I could have a place like this. I worked three jobs at times in my life, but I never had enough money where I could afford a place where I could see the lake. It’s been so wonderful.”