October 2007

In this issue

Illinois Constitutional Convention: A Tool for Housing Advocates?

HOT STUFF: Funding Shortfall Threatens 50,000 Project-Based Section 8 Apartments; CRN Meets With Congressmen

City Clerk's Office Increases Transparency

CRN Holds Annual Membership Meeting

Financial Help for Window Replacement, Lead Abatement and Weatherization

Mark Your Calendars! CRN 2008 Community Development Trainings Announced

TIF Training in November

Job Opportunities


Illinois Constitutional Convention: A Tool for Housing Advocates?

Next year voters can make a major decision: A referendum to call for a constitutional convention will appear on the 2008 general election ballot. If the electorate votes "yes," 2 delegates from each of the 59 state Senate districts would be elected in a separate election, likely to be held in the summer of 2009. The delegates would then convene a constitutional convention in late 2009, or early 2010.

Illinois law requires that the citizenry is given an opportunity to call for fundamental changes to the state constitution every 20 years.

Constitutional revisions made in the last Illinois Constitutional Convention, in 1970, resulted in the establishment of local home rule, minimizing sales taxes on food and drugs, and extending the veto powers of the governor. Notable figures such as Mayor Richard M. Daley and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan were delegates to the 1970 Constitutional Convention.

Although voters rejected the referendum in 1988, the political environment may be ripe for a Constitutional Convention this time around. Last January state Rep. John Fritchey sponsored a resolution, which passed the House in June, urging the electorate to vote in favor of a Constitutional Convention in 2008. The resolution, H.R. 25, which described the Illinois General Assembly as "unwilling or unable to tackle some of the most significant problems facing the State of Illinois," listed the current method of property assessment as one pressing issue that could be addressed.

The Chicago Rehab Network thinks that the affordable housing community ought to be proactive in considering both the challenges and opportunities, if a Constitutional Convention were to be convened. We should be considering possible delegates and revisions now. We'll be hosting discussions on this issue in the coming months, so please contact us if you'd like to be involved.

For 25 years, the Chicago Rehab Network (CRN) has worked to further the development and preservation of safe affordable housing in Chicago, and throughout the state of Illinois.

  • HOT STUFF: Funding Shortfall Threatens 50,000 Project-Based Section 8 Apartments; CRN Meets With Congressmen
  • Us Capitol

    Congress is poised to pass an appropriations bill with a project-based Section 8 funding shortfall of $2.5 billion. If full funding is not provided, HUD will be unable to guarantee a full year of payments to Section 8 property owners. Without such a guarantee, thousands of property owners who can economically leave the Section 8 program will do so at the first opportunity, leaving working families and seniors facing substantially higher rents or displacement.

    During the fall legislative break, CRN staffers and members met with staff from the offices of Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rep. Rahm Emmanuel and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of the Illinois congressional delegation. The meetings took place in Washington, D.C. and home district offices.

    Issues discussed in the meetings included the National Housing Trust Fund, the problems of foreclosures caused by subprime lending, exit tax relief, mod rehab fixes, a homeowner assistance bill, recent initiatives introduced by Rep. Barney Frank regarding affordable housing preservation and other member community issues and requests.

    As a result of the meetings, a CRN member will provide congressional testimony during a federal hearing on housing foreclosures and congressional representatives have requested another CRN briefing.

    Efforts are underway to schedule similar meetings with Sen. Barack Obama, Senator Dick Durbin, and Rep. Bobby Rush and Rep. Danny Davis.

    Click here to download more information about the funding shortfall
  • City Clerk's Office Increases Transparency
  • Del Valle Headshot

    The City Clerk's office, essential for keeping Chicagoans informed about City Council activity that impacts their communities, has revamped its website in recent months. The result has been greater transparency and easier access to information.

    Since his appointment and subsequent reelection last spring, City Clerk Miguel del Valle has increased the public's access to City Council information by providing a monthly report of recently proposed legislation. In addition, the clerk's office has recently made it possible to view regular City Council meetings, including Mayor Daley's Oct. 10 budget address, live via video streaming. Both the "Substantive Legislative Proposals" and live streaming can be found online at www.chicityclerk.com.

    At the Oct. 16 City Budget Hearing, Clerk del Valle said, "Our goal is transparency and to put as much information on city government as possible on the website." The City Clerk's Office reported that it is working to create an "E-government kind of environment," similar to what exists at the state and federal levels, as it "streamlines the process" by which documents are filed and transferred between city departments and City Council.

    In its 2007 Policy Platform, the Chicago Rehab Network underscored the need for increased transparency in local government, listing the following as essential for a strong city:

    EXPAND LEADERSHIP Strong leadership depends on opportunities for civic engagement and quality discourse around public policy. Unlike at the federal (www.thomas.gov) and state levels (www.ilga.gov), where information systems are in place that promptly track legislative activity and initiatives, Chicago citizens lack any coherent communication system to inform them of such activities at the City level. City leaders and residents deserve a system that enables them to understand and engage in the workings of local government as it impacts their communities.


    • Implement a constantly updated information system that efficiently tracks and communicates all proposed, considered, and approved City policies.
    • Increase transparency in the Departments of Planning, Zoning, Building, and Construction/Permits to allow for better utilization of public resources,based on the reporting model exemplified by the Department of Housing.

    The Chicago Rehab Network applauds Clerk del Valle's progress to date and looks forward to his continued success.

    Visit the City Clerk of Chicago website ...
  • CRN Holds Annual Membership Meeting
  • CRN held its annual membership meeting Sept. 28 at Access Living's new building at 115 West Chicago Ave. The presence of two notable guest speakers made the event especially insightful for our members. The commissioner from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the executive director of Illinois Housing Development Agency (IHDA) addressed members of the Chicago Rehab Network.

    DPD: Planning Commissioner Arnold Randall was appointed to succeed Lori Healey as the head of the city of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development in August 2007.

    CRN members welcomed the opportunity to pose questions to the new Planning official, asking Commissioner Randall about increasing DPD's role in the provision of affordable housing -- including strategies to provide housing for ex-offenders, coordination with the Department of Housing, providing free city land for affordable housing, and the use of tax increment financing (TIF) for affordable housing. The city policy of allowing non-profit developers to purchase city lots at reduced rates was a significant point of discussions. CRN members reported land acquisition costs are hurting their ability to build and fully subsidize units because of high prices paid for lots.

    IHDA: The housing community also has new statewide leadership with the appointment of DeShana Forney as IHDA executive director, replacing Kelly King Dibble.

    Dir. Forney's presentation focused on an overview of the Illinois Comprehensive Housing Plan for 2008, outlining the agency's vision and goals to address the state's critical housing needs. As a source of financing, IHDA's many challenges include the ability to provide resources to match current housing needs, since every year requests for funding exceed the availability of resources. This is a point of concern that is especially relevant to CRN members, who are comprised mostly of non-profit developers, as they face constant competition for public sources of development financing. Additionally, CRN members were able to address statewide issues that affect housing activities in their localities, including the status of the State Rental Subsidy program and the changes to the Qualified Allocation Plan for dispersal of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. Members said several categories in the next Qualified Allocation Plan create an undue burden on developers that seek to create affordable housing where 100% of the units are to be affordable based on demonstrated community need/market study. CRN members also shared their support for a $100 million line item in the capital budget for affordable housing.

    As opportunities to affect housing policy emerge, CRN welcomes both Dir. Forney's and Commissioner Randall's leadership as partners to develop sound public policies that encourage the creation and preservation of affordable housing.

    Also congratulations to newly elected CRN board officers Andrew Geer of Heartland Housing, president; Steven McCullough of Bethel New Life, vice president; Guacolda Reyes of The Resurrection Project, treasurer; and Mattie Butler of WECAN, secretary.

    CRN members are non-profit community development organizations and housing advocates. For more information, click here.
  • Financial Help for Window Replacement, Lead Abatement and Weatherization
  • ApartmentBldg

    Lead dust from windows in older apartment buildings is a main source of lead poisoning of children. Chicago ordinance prohibits lead hazards in all residential property.

    A new incentive program sponsored by the city of Chicago helps owners of four or more affordable apartment units avoid violations and improve energy efficiency at reduced cost. Fifty percent loan forgiveness is available to pay for lead abatement improvements - including window and door replacement. Grant funding also pays for 100 percent of weatherization improvements - including Low-E energy-saving glass, storm doors and water heater blankets.

    For more information, contact Chicago Lead Safe Window Services at 312-423-3150 or click on: http://www.chi cagoleadsafe.com/

    Click here to download information ...
  • Mark Your Calendars! CRN 2008 Community Development Trainings Announced
  • Save the date bee

    Mark your calendars now! CRN is pleased to announce its schedule of Community Development trainings for 2008. We would also like to thank Northern Trust Bank for partnering with us to provide the training. Please check out the dates below:

    • Community Building: Thursday, March 13th, Friday, March 14th
    • HP12-C & Spreadsheets: Thursday, March 27th, Friday, March 28th
    • Proforma Development & Analysis: Thursday, April 10th, Friday, April 11th
    • Sources of Development Financing: Thursday, April 24th, Friday, April 25th
    • Single Family Housing Development: Thursday, May 8th, Friday, May 9th
    • Multifamily Housing Development: Thursday, May 15th, Friday, May 16th
    • Project & Construction Management: Thursday, May 29th, Friday, May 30th
    • Property/Asset Management: Thursday, June 12th, Friday, June 13th

    Call 312-663-3936, for more details.

  • TIF Training in November
  • On Nov. 30, CRN will offer a training on using tax increment financing (TIF) monies for affordable housing. Hosted by National City Bank, Bob Kunze will be the instructor on the technical aspects of accessing these important dollars. This training will not touch on policy issues of TIF. Space is very limited - call CRN at 312-663-3936, for more information.

  • Job Opportunities
  • Mercy Housing Lakefront is seeking a new Associate Director, Housing Development for its Chicago-based real estate development team. The ideal candidate will have at least five years for-profit or nonprofit real estate development experience and be adept at project feasibility assessment and identifying new development opportunities. Interested candidates should forward their resumes to Mary Vasys at [email protected]. You may also request a copy of the full job description.

    http://www.chicagorehab.org http://www.chicagorehab.org

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