Time to Renew Five-Year Affordable Housing Plan
By Kevin Jackson
The Chicago Rehab Network has long maintained that
the city housing department's quarterly reports are
exemplary and a best practice to promote
transparency in government. Looking at what a major
city agency is doing every four months-through its
reports to the city council's Committee on Housing
and Real Estate allows elected officials and the
public to see how programs are working, allows for
changes when things aren't working and gives
housing advocates vital information. The city has
developed meaningful policies and resources
because of this openness and the discourse that
Where did this tool come from? The Department of
Housing's quarterly reports came out of the first
decisions around the Five-Year Affordable Housing
Plan back in 1993-and this function has grown more
successful with each subsequent plan. As the
Department of Housing begins preparing for the next
Five-Year Affordable Housing Plan, housing
stakeholders have again been invited to serve on an
advisory group. The group will recommend priorities
for the new plan that will be submitted to the city
This new planning opportunity is going to take the
same thoughtful and diligent approach as in years
past. The Chicago Rehab Network will contribute to
the success of this process. We will present our
analysis of the city's performance. We will participate
and comment on the key issues based on
interactions with and concerns expressed by
practitioners, community leaders and others
concerned about housing in our city.
We've already begun to hear that the economic
downturn will likely result in fewer resources for
affordable housing. We will argue a stronger
response is required in these times. The next 5-Year
Plan will lay the framework for our commitment to
align our affordable housing with future events and
possibilities, like the 2016 Olympics.
We will present new recommendations for how to
best serve Chicagoans who need housing the most
and encourage strategies that emerged
out of the "Build, Preserve and Lead" plan (2003 -
2008). Through the past we've seen intervention and
innovation in the areas of preservation and new
housing developments. We have a new notification
law that supports preservation, new Affordable
Housing Land Trusts, and a menu of inclusionary
housing opportunities through the Affordable
Requirements Ordinance (ARO) and the downtown
We will continue to call for careful tracking of the ARO,
given that the ordinance is new and will require new
coordination with some city departments. The
ordinance, however, is another example of where we
should be moving with increased participation across
departments and enhanced reporting.
Outside of the Five-Year planning efforts, we should
pay attention to property taxes as they have always
been a key element in maintaining strong
neighborhoods. A committee chosen by the mayor
has been assigned to examine and make
recommendations about property taxes- we trust the
committee will also have high level of transparency
and solicit input from practitioners.
Our experience and the history of the Five-Year Plan
shows participation by independent non-profits, like
the Chicago Rehab Network, increases the likelihood
of better decision making because of greater
awareness of problems and opportunities.
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: Public Hearings Galore - Mergers and Plans
These three hearings upcoming are sponsored by
institutions which all impact your community. Don't
underestimate the value of sharing your voice and
experience in working to improve the neighborhood
where you work and live.
The Federal Reserve Board will hold an April 22
hearing on Bank of America plans to acquire
Countrywide Financial Corp. The hearing will
8:30 a.m. CDT at the Federal Reserve Bank of
Chicago, 230 South LaSalle St.
Anyone wishing to testify at the public meeting to
be held in Chicago must submit a written request to
Alicia Williams, Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank
of Chicago, 230 South La Salle St., Chicago, IL 60604,
or fax to 312-913-2626, no later than 5 p.m. CDT on
April 8, 2008.
The City has announced 3 public hearings as part
the Housing Planning Process.
Monday, April 14, 6:00 p.m.
North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Rd., Building C,
Wednesday, April 23, 6:00 p.m.
Washington Park Refectory, 5531 S. Russell Dr.
Tuesday, May 6, 6:00 p.m.
Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake St.
CHA Residents' Forum - Tuesday, April 8th
The CHA will host a resident forum to discuss recent
policy issues, as well as the proposed Amended and
Restated Moving To Work (MTW) Agreement, on
Tuesday, April 8, 2008, at the South Shore Cultural
Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive. There will be a
morning session (10 a.m. to noon), and an evening
session (5 to 7 p.m.). Both sessions will cover the
|Update on Federal Preservation Policy
In fiscal year 2009, the Bush administration proposes
to spend $7 billion to renew all Project-based rental
contracts and to provide a $400 million advance
appropriation to bridge renewal funding into 2010.
This is $1.2 billion more than the Administration
proposed last year and represents another step
toward restoring full funding. This change is due
entirely to advocacy by the housing community.
The fiscal year 2009 budget process will be a long
one. The affordable housing community must
highlight and to continue to use the need for
affordable rentals and the preservation of existing
stock as polarizing issues-especially with ever
growing demands for affordable rental housing.
According to HUD's FY'09 budget justifications, the
department estimates 43,000 fewer Project-based
Section 8 affordable apartments will be funded. This
would be double the number of Project-based Section
8 units lost to affordable market stock annually in
recent years. Since 2001, approximately 10,000
Project-based Section 8 units have been lost
nationally on a yearly basis.
The Chicago Rehab Network has sent letters to the
full Illinois congressional delegation highlighting the
need for lawmakers to adopt emergency
supplemental appropriations to fully fund Section 8
contracts for the current fiscal year. Your participation
is key to keeping the pressure on and building
awareness within our delegation about the negative
impact that loss of rental units would have on their
We applaud all 24 senators, including Sen. Dick
Durbin and Sen. Barack Obama, for their bi-partisan
efforts to preserve affordable housing. Sen. Durbin
and Sen. Obama joined Senator Dodd in urging the
Senate budget committee to include a $2.8 billion
advance appropriation for Section 8 contracts in the
pending budget resolution.
A comprehensive Preservation Bill will be in the
pipeline for introduction by Congressman Barney
Frank, chair of the House financial services
committee. Mr. Frank (D-Mass.) has said that the
adoption of an omnibus affordable housing
preservation bill is among his top priorities for the
coming year. The bill will include many policy and
regulatory fixes proposed through the National
Preservation Working Group of which we are a
Congress will also consider legislation to improve
and modernize the Low Income Housing Tax Credit
program. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has
introduced S. 2666, the "Affordable Housing
Investment Act of 2008." The bill would make a
number of improvements to the LIHTC program that
would substantially benefit preservation, including
repealing the 10-year rule for acquisition credits.
Here are few additional developments from Capitol
- The Illinois Housing Development Agency and
Neighborhood Housing Services of Illinois will receive
$2.4 million in federal funding towards foreclosure
counseling, according to Sen. Dick Durbin's office
- Ilinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky is seeking co-
sponsors for H.R. 4202, "The Inclusive Home Design
Act," legislation to make homes accessible, or
inclusive, for people with disabilities. H.R. 4202 would
mean that all homes built with federal dollars
accessible, and the number of homes available for
people with disabilities would be greatly
Action Now Fundraiser
On Friday, April 18, 2008, Action Now will be holding
its first fundraiser reception in downtown Chicago at
the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, 301 East North Water
Street. The gathering is from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Please stop by after work to share a toast, grab a bite
before the trip home, and welcome Action Now to the
world. Contact Madeline Talbott for more information.
Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance
The Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA) is
hosting an event on April 29. The topic is "Fair
Housing: Forty Years Later." Barbara Knox of HUD is
one of the panel members. There will be a screening
of a documentary film on the Chicago Freedom
Movement, and CAFHA will release its report on the
state of fair housing in the six-county metro Chicago
region. The program will be held on April 29 from 9
a.m. to 12 p.m. at Access Living at 115 W. Chicago
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation is seeking to fill a position in the Program
on Human and Community Development for a
program officer with training and experience in
housing policy, research, and the development of
communications strategies necessary to enhance the
policy impact of funded activities.
||Learn more about the Program Officer position
|Foreclosure Remedies from DC
Somehow Congress and the Bush administration
keep missing the point. The problems associated
with the sub prime meltdown and the foreclosure
crisis aren't going to just go away. It's going to take
some hard decisions and something
more than hope the that market corrects itself.
That means going beyond fixes for the financial
industry side of the housing debacle and honestly
dealing with a very simple fact: People are losing their
homes and need help - as do the communities which
will suffer from the abandoned and vacant home.
The recent legislation proposed by the Senate has
some good elements, like provisions that would
make it possible for communities to purchase
housing to keep neighborhoods from suffering with
enduring huge numbers of abandoned properties in
their neighborhoods - as well as keep the homes out
of the speculative market.
The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 would offer
$100 million to pay for counseling and give states the
ability to use $10 billion for tax free bonds to try to
combat the problem. It does
offer help to deal with properties already in
foreclosure and put aside $4 billion that local
governments could use to buy REO properties, which
is a good idea.
The bill doesn't offer bankruptcy reform. A
provision of Senator Durbin's was included in S.2636
but may not be included in final bill. Durbin's provision
would have allowed modification of primary residence
mortgages in court as mortgages on other types of
homes can be revised in court. . Other elements of
the bill, however, are open for exploitation by
speculators, like a $7,000 tax credit for people who
purchase foreclosed properties.
What's needed is a multi-year plan to deal with the
crisis and builds in provisions to curb abuses that
ushered in the crisis. A major feature should be
support for ending predatory lending, like Sen.
Christopher Dodd's anti-predatory lending bill that
would ban high broker fees, bad loan products,
unwarranted prepayment penalties, fraudulent
servicing and other abusive practices.
Stay tuned for our CRN advocacy alerts. As
negotiations move forward, we'll need to voice our
Chicago experience to the Illinois delegation and
|Foundations Create Fund to Help Chicago Neighborhoods Benefit from 2016 Olympics
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
The Chicago Community Trust, the McCormick
Tribune Foundation, and the Polk Bros. Foundation
today announced that they are establishing a multi-
million dollar fund to support the city's Olympic bid
and ensure it provides lasting benefits to Chicago's
neighborhoods and residents.
The 2016 Olympics Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods
will make grants to help neighborhoods affected by
the Olympics participate and benefit from planning for
this global event. Funding likely will support city and
community planning, education, employment and
training services, affordable housing, research, and
business, commercial, and retail development in the
communities where Olympic venues will be located.
These include Washington Park, Englewood, Grand
Boulevard, Kenwood, Woodlawn, and Douglas Park
on the South Side and East Garfield Park, Near West,
Pilsen, Little Village, and North Lawndale on the West
|Learning About Building Community
The first group to participate in the this years'
Development and Empowerment workshop series
spent time at Bethel New Life in Austin. Led
by instructor and Bethel New Life staffer
Richard Townsell, the 25-member group toured
Bethel's Beth Anne campus March 14, then took a
chartered bus to see Bethel's off-site housing
developments, child care facilities, and financial
service projects in Austin and West Garfield Park.
Community Building was the first of the Series and
included discussions of what it takes beyond brick
and mortar to build a neighborhood. The next seven
workshops will cover issues from proforma
development to construction management to property
management. While most workshops are full, strong
demand exists to offer this Series again soon. Let us
know if you are interested.
|'Housing Policy' letter in Chicago Tribune
John Bartlett, executive director of the Metropolitan
Tenants Organization, recently had a letter published
in the Chicago Tribune. Titled "Housing Policy," the
letter highlighted the importance of housing, its impact
on families and communities and made some
recommendations for what needs to done in the
middle of economic bad times and the sub-prime
||Read John Bartlett's Letter to the Editor on Housing
|Housing Action Illinois 2008 Annual Convention
On May 1 and 2nd in Naperville, Housing Action Illinois
will hold their 2008 Annual Convention. This is a great
event to hear about housing policy updates and to
connect with other practitioners.
||See Conference Information
|CRN's Analysis of Housing Production in 2007
The Chicago Rehab Network's analysis of the
Department of Housing's 4th Quarterly report for
2007 is available. Last year was a difficult one in
housing with increased foreclosures and mortgage
defaults, the collapse of the subprime lending
industry, rising consumer and gas prices all
contributing to a precarious housing market and
somber economic picture. Where should we be going
from here? Our analysis outlines challenges and
opportunities that we need to face as the housing
markets tightens and the city enters the final year of
the Department of Housing's third Five-Year Plan.
Take a look.
||Read 4th Quarter 2007 Analysis