Bishop Jerry L. Jones holds grand opening for $20 million senior housing complex

Jones: ‘From ashes come new life for West Pullman”
By Chinta Strausberg
Bishop Jerry L. Jones, president of the Brownlow, Belton, Sullivan & Arms, a non-for-profit organization, recently held a grand opening ceremony for the official opening of the seven-story,  $20 million Hancock House senior complex, an idea which began 25-years ago as the dream of three missionaries one of whom is still alive today.
The dedication of the 89-unit building was held at 12045 S. Emerald St., Chicago, IL in the West Pullman community. The housing project started out as an idea among three missionaries, Hattie C. Brownlow, Mother Essie Belton and Dr. Lula Mae Sullivan who were 25-years younger at the time.
They were visionaries armed with just a dream, a lot of prayers but no funds. Ironically, Belton passed away on the same day the deal closed for the senior housing project. Dr. Sullivan, the lone surviving member of the trio, Thursday gave the invocation for the opening of the senior complex.
With the seed already planted by the three missionaries, Bishop Jones, who is the Secretary General of Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith Apostolic Assembly of the Lord Jesus Christ, was determined to make their proposed senior housing dream a reality. It took him five-years and a lot of help from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) along with President Barack Obama’s stimulus package to finalize the quarter-of-a-century dream.
Overwhelmed at the turnout for the event, Bishop Jones, a former Chicago Fire Department official, said, “Already, we have 25 residents in our apartments,” he told the crowd. “All I can say is hallelujah, thank you, Jesus.”
He also thanked many officials who helped him complete this project including: Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), former Illinois President of the Senate Emil Jones, Jr., Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-2nd), Cook County Comm. Deborah Sims, James Wezlarz, manager of Multi-Family business Development from IDHA who also represented Gov. Pat Quinn, and Clare Leary, affordable housing city finance manager from the Department of Housing and Economic Development. Jones also thanked developer Brigite Grossman from the Swan Lake Company.  “She helped to developed the dream,” said Jones.
One of the state founders is Bishop D. Raford Bell who secured the 501-c-3 and who was the auxiliary bishop of the Missionary Department. “This was important because without it we would not have been qualified for the funding of this project.”
“Without them, we would not have been able to do this because we did not have any land,” said Jones giving a special thanks to Ald. Austin for her cooperation and city resources.
“We named this building after Samuel Nathan Hancock who founded the Pentecostal Church of the Apostolic Faith in 1957. This senior housing building is considered one of the three wonders of the South Side of Chicago,” said Bishop Jones.
Explaining, he said the senior building is located near the new Salvation Army Center that is being erected on 119th Street. It is also near the largest solar field located at 120th Street near Ashland and it too is new. Jones said the three “wonders” of the West Pullman community are giving hope to a renewed community.
Bishop Jones led a tour of the Hancock House. “We have a wellness center, which includes exercise,” he told the visitors, “and there is a community room where our residents can prepare their own lunches. We have a large atrium, a laundry room on each floor, and parking for the seniors.
“And, the Hancock House is located next to the Metra train. We have security, maintenance, and a building engineer to maintain the facility and to provide safety for the seniors,” Jones said proudly. “I thank God that we were able to take land, a vacant lot for the past 40-years, and give life to a community in need of affordable housing,” he said.
“And, while many temporary jobs were created in building the Hancock House, we have created 12 permanent jobs and that is a blessing,” he said of the cream-colored, Terra Cotta-colored building.
“For those who didn’t believe we could do this, all I have to say is truth crushed to the ground shall rise again, and in this instance, the Hancock House is that truth. It represents the vision of the three missionaries who planted the seed for this project 25-years ago, and it is a symbol of what can happen if you just have the faith of a mustard seed.”
“Yes, this has been a very challenging project and the location of the Hancock House has a very troubling history.” He was referring to September of 2009, when honor student Derrion Albert was beaten to death. The crime was captured on cell phones and shown around the world. “What followed in the community was a kind of gloom and a kind of morbid spirit in the area. It was a very vicious attack against another one of our brightest students,” said Jones.
“But, it was almost as if God decided to remedy that tragedy with the Hancock House, this fabulous, unbelievable new building of new life. Our residents come from various walks of life. Our community needed this desperately. The Hancock House represents not just new life and a symbol of hope for tomorrow,” said Jones. “The Hancock House represents that energy.”
“We are proud that it also has the latest cutting edge technology. Everything is first class. It looks like the Hyatt Regency, and it was completed right on time; that is just weeks before the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who in the 1960’s came to Chicago fighting for open housing,” a beaming Bishop Jones said.
Jones, a former firefighter who once put out fires, today sets souls afire in the pulpit but also is busy building new life in a community beset with crime and neglect.
“This is a new season, a new spirit of celebration and it happened on the first day of snow for Chicago. There’s so much symbolism here. It is truly overwhelming,” Jones said looking proudly with awe at the new senior complex building. “From ashes come new life,” he said.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: