News from the Chicago Rehab Network
30 years of Community Empowerment and Development without Displacement March 2009

In this issue

Special Hearing on Olympic Community Benefits Ordinance for Olympic Village

Recovery Act Passed; Housing Advocates prepare for stimulus dollars

City and State Neighborhood Stabilization Programs Officially Begin

CRN Celebrates Community Development Leaders

The Community Development and Empowerment Series Workshops Starts on April 2nd!

Bethel New Life celebrates expansion of A.I. Industries with New Markets Tax Credits

State Legislative Updates

Help for Homeowners in Foreclosure

Cook County Assessor launches initiative to mitigate foreclosure impacts

CRN Analysis of DOH 4th Quarter Report

CRN HOUSING 2016 Forum Available on Chicago Amplified

April Recess is Near! Schedule a Meeting with Your Representative

Network NewsMakers and Upcoming Events


Special Hearing on Olympic Community Benefits Ordinance for Olympic Village

The City Council's Committee on Finance addressed the topic of community benefits and the 2016 Olympics last Friday, March 27, in a special hearing of the Committee on Finance. A community legacy ordinance from Alderman Toni Preckwinkle was deferred from the prior week's Finance meeting to allow for the newly expanded advisory committees to the 2016 Olympics to complete their work and offer recommendations.

At the meeting, a new ordinance in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) incorporating the recommendations of the Outreach Advisory Councils was presented and passed unanimously by the finance committee. This now goes to the City Council and to the IOC.

We appreciate and commend the dedication of the advisory committees' sincere efforts to building a full legacy agenda that embraces meaningful social impacts. In particular, we recognize the risk-taking and tireless leadership of KOCO ( Kenwood Oakland Community Organization), CEO and Alderman Preckwinkle in advancing the community benefits agreement concept. The MOU in terms of affordable housing lacks specificity - even the inclusion of the laudable 30% affordable housing in the Olympic Village is more a goal-based target with funding contingencies rather than a firm commitment with specific income targets required of the developer. This points to the underlying tension with the Village--balancing what a private developer desires in terms of risk and what the community needs in terms of housing opportunities for the less well off. In other words, who are we building for?

Importantly, the affordable housing committee trained its intent beyond the Olympic Village proper and embraced a community wide housing vision that would start with the principle of no displacement. The advisory committee offers workable solutions to this concern by recommending among other things expanded use of the Chicago Community Land Trust and circuit breakers. For the concept of the Land Trust to work it needs to be employed immediately; otherwise, a speculative market will undermine the best of intentions and will be further exacerbated if the Olympics are announced and nothing has preceded the announcement. As we first documented last Spring the increase in rents will rapidly displace residents ( see Olympics and Chicago Neighborhoods). That is the challenge to the city's 2016 Bid: Implementing the MOU needs to begin now with accountability and regular progress reports to the public.

For our part, we will continue at CRN to put forth ideas, forums and technical assistance to foster, as has been our mission for thirty years, community empowerment and development without displacement.

City Closer to State Financial Guarantee for Olympics

In Springfield, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 2016 [Full text] paving the way for a $250 million guarantee from the State to help support the City of Chicago's preparation for the Games if it wins the bid. The Bill also creates the Chicago Olympic Public Safety Command (COPSC) to engage in security and public safety if Chicago is selected as the host city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and other provisions to help move the bill forward. In the process of passing the bill, a Housing Affordability Impact Note was filled by IHDA. [Track Bill status].

The bill also establishes a monitoring body to oversee diversity in hiring and contracting opportunities. This oversight committee will have 23 members: the Governor, President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and the Minority Leader of the House will each get 2 appointees; five will be appointed by the Mayor; five from the Outreach Advisory Council; and one representative from each of the three agencies hosting an Olympic event: Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, The Chicago Park District, and UIC.

TIF Sunshine Amendment, Stimulus Projects Hearings Deferred

The votes on two important city issues were postponed after each proposal sparked several hours of deliberation from City Aldermen.

The TIF Sunshine Amendment was heard at the joint meeting of the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development and Committee on Finance.

The ordinance, sponsored by Alderman Waguespack and Alderman Flores, aims to make TIF Redevelopment Agreements more accessible to the public by expanding reporting online. The newly-formed Department of Community Development will be in charge of keeping and disseminating the records.

The move for TIF reform was prompted by the recent debacle concerning the Republic Windows and Doors Company. Located in Goose Island, Republic abruptly closed its doors in December 2008 giving only three days notice to its workers and sparking a labor dispute that made national news. The company received $9.6 million in TIF subsidies in a 1996 agreement. At issue was whether the company fulfilled the requirements stated under the agreement such as job creation and other community benefits. But since the agreement had expired in 2006, the city had little standing to hold the company accountable.

The ordinance proposed by both aldermen is a step toward increasing oversight and accountability in TIF Agreements. TIF is a major source of local funding for affordable housing as well. In addition to direct TIF assistance, housing developments receiving any TIF money must comply with an affordability requirement to set-aside 20% of the units for affordable housing. These requirements, along with others such as job training and job creation, serve as a way to provide benefits to the community in exchange for public investment.

Alderman Laurino, chair of the Economic Development committee postponed the vote in order to allow for sufficient review of the issues raised at the meeting. A contentious point in particular was the cost and capacity of the Department of Community Development to uphold these new reporting requirements and whether these costs are considered TIF-eligible expenses.

No date has been set for the follow up hearing but the ordinance's sponsors, Aldermen Flores and Waguespack, hope to have the ordinance passed next month.

The City of Chicago Stimulus Projects were debated at the joint meeting of the Committee on Budget and Finance on March 19th. With hundreds of millions of dollars coming to the city, many communities hard-hit by the recession are hoping these new resources are able to make a significant impact towards economic recovery. But the city's aldermen expressed disappointment at last month's regular City Council meeting over what appears to be a less than forthcoming selection process for the projects that will be receiving stimulus money--with a resounding 43-7 vote in support of a resolution by Alderman Pat Dowell to release a city project list.

Before the resolution was heard in the Committee, however, the city released its stimulus project list and the public got a first look at what city plans to do and the communities that will benefit. At the Committee on Budget meeting held on March 19th, some aldermen expressed concerns that dollars meant for economic recovery aren't going to communities who need it most and do not address the critical infrastructure needs of the city.

Alderman Carrie Austin, Chair of the Committee on Budget, suspended the rest of the meeting, held the vote and public comments until a follow up meeting can be scheduled.

  • Recovery Act Passed; Housing Advocates prepare for stimulus dollars
  • On February 17th, President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in to law, setting the stage for the infusion of $787 billion in stimulus monies to states and municipalities in an unprecedented effort jumpstart an ailing economy. Billions of dollars are making its way to Illinois and with it comes the opportunity to create and preserve hundreds of affordable housing. According HUD, Illinois will receive nearly $540 million for housing programs including formula and competitive grants and the City of Chicago will receive approximately $250 million for housing. (CRN ARRA matrix )

    In addition, ARRA authorized a second Neighborhood Stabilization Program which, unlike the first NSP passed in July 2008, will be administered competitively. The State is expected to receive an estimated $88 million in NSP funding sometime this year.

    The recovery package also promotes energy efficiency retrofits, green technology and investments. The package includes a new program that will fund energy retrofits and investment in green technology in federally-assisted housing. This program will be administered by HUD's Office of Affordable Housing Preservation. Details of funding have not yet been released.

    Stimulus Program Links

    CHA will receive largest sum of stimulus money

    A generous portion of the recovery funds will go to the Chicago Housing Authority who will receive nearly $144 million of the Public Housing Capital Fund. The fund's main objective is to address the capital needs backlog, rehabilitation, improvements, and energy retrofits in public housing. However, the CHA sought approval to demolish six buildings with nearly 600 units in the Harold Ickes Homes with stimulus money. The demolition of buildings in the Ickes Homes conflicts with CHA planning documents which indicate that Ickes Homes would be rehabbed.

    CRN raises the issue that the stimulus dollars are best used to preserve affordability especially during this economic crisis. Demolition of public housing without a replacement plan in place provides no public benefit and little economic stimulus.

  • City and State Neighborhood Stabilization Programs Officially Begin
  • The City of Chicago and Mercy Portfolio Services released the Request for Qualifications for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Responses will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning on April 13, 2009.

    Download the RFQ

    For more information, visit the City of Chicago NSP website.

    The Illinois Department of Human Services and Illinois Housing Development Authority also has launched the State Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Applications are due May 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm. For more information, visit the Request for Proposal/Application website

  • CRN Celebrates Community Development Leaders
  • Join us for a reception honoring graduates of the 2007 and 2008 Community Development and Empowerment Series!

    When: April 20, 6:00pm to 9:00pm
    Where: Gibson's, 1028 North Rush Street
    RSVP to CRN 312-663-3936

    Cost: $25 (Pay online or at the door)

    Download the Invitation

    Underwritten by:
    Virmac Services Inc.

    Sponsors (in formation):
    Citi Foundation
    Chicago Community Loan Fund
    Holsten Development Corporation
    Landon Bone Baker Architects
    The Private Bank
    National Equity Fund
    Local Initiatives Support Corporation

    Supporters (in formation):
    Brinshore Development
    Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.

    For sponsorship opportunities, please contact CRN at 312-663-3936.

  • The Community Development and Empowerment Series Workshops Starts on April 2nd!
  • Register Now for CRN's Empowerment Series workshops. The series, in its 14th year, exposes participants to the entire process of affordable housing development and management. Participants who complete the entire eight workshop series will receive a certificate.

    Contact Andy Neilsen at [email protected] to register.

    More information

    PHOTO: Students learn about project and construction management during a site visit to a development under construction in South Chicago.

  • Bethel New Life celebrates expansion of A.I. Industries with New Markets Tax Credits
  • In 2007, Bethel was approached by Jane Addams Resource Center to assist in renovating an industrial building in West Garfield Park for use as a manufacturing incubator and teaching facility. Bethel financed the $780,000 rehab with New Market Tax Credits and today the building holds four business, including A.I. Industries which Bethel was pleased to provide a $200,000 loan for the expansion of their garment manufacturing business.

    Bethel New Life is able to support projects for organizations like JARC with a $4 million dollar allocation of New Market Tax Credits it received in 2004. With this allocation, Bethel has assisted several projects that benefit the West Garfield Park community including the $1.3 million to help develop the 23,000 square foot Bethel Center on Lake and Pulaski. Anchored at a major transit stop, the LEED Gold-certified Center houses employment services and child development facilities as well as a technology community center and six commercial storefronts.

    Bethel also used approximately $1 million dollars, leveraging an additional $2.2 million, to build 337 units of affordable housing in West Garfield Park.

    Bethel credits its investment partners, Park National, Midwest Bank, and Private Bank for their generous support even during these challenging economic times. New Market Tax Credits is a key tool in the recovery of our communities. Bethel New Life plans to apply to become a Participating Entity under the City's Neighborhood Stabilization Program and use the remaining allocation to directly address the foreclosure crisis by using the funds to acquire REO homes.

  • State Legislative Updates
  • Thus far, the Illinois General Assembly has put forth a plethora of housing related bills covering several main themes: foreclosure prevention and counseling and green housing.

    In response to the foreclosure crisis in recent years, a range of legislators filed bills to curtail foreclosures and provide additional counseling to prevent further foreclosures. House Bill 3863 [Full text], sponsored by Rep. Will Burns, is moving quickly. The Bill enhances foreclosure protection to renters. In 2008, nearly one-third of foreclosure filings in Chicago were on 2-6 unit buildings. The Bill would guarantee a Notice of Foreclosure to tenants and clarify eviction procedures. (More information about HB 3863 and how to take action in Housing Matters.)

    House Bill 3806 [Full text], sponsored by Rep. Marlow Colvin, would create a deferment period lasting for one year after the passage of the bill. During this time, homeowners who were being foreclosed upon could pay a deferment fee to their lender in order to stay in their homes and have additional time to renegotiate the terms of their loan. The deferment period would apply to those who are victims of sub-prime or negative amortization loans and whose family income is less than $250,000.

    Green building and energy efficiency is another priority this legislative session. Rep. Julie Hamos introduced HB 3987 [Full text] which amends the Energy Efficiency Commercial Buildings Act to include residential homes in the existing energy efficiency requirements. The bill outlines energy efficiency guidelines that local units of government may adopt. The bill does not require local government units to adopt the guidelines but does specify that if any guidelines are adopted they must be the ones outlined in the bill.

    Housing also has a place within the budget process. On Wednesday, March 18th, Governor Quinn presented his budget proposal to the General Assembly. Governor Quinn's budget includes $25 million to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to be used as grants and loans to build and rehab affordability housing. The budget reflects additional funding that will be coming through IHDA and other departments as a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The complete operating budget and capital budget are each available online.

    The Illinois House Democrats are holding a series of Capital Budget hearings. Upcoming hearings in the Chicago area is as follows:

    • 4/8/2009 - Simeon Career Academy Auditorium
      8147 S. Vincennes Ave. Chicago, IL 10 a.m.
    • 4/16/2009 - Austin Town Hall Auditorium
      5610 W. Lake St. Chicago, IL 10 a.m.
    • 4/16/2009 - Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Olson Auditorium
      836 W. Wellington Ave. Chicago, IL 6 p.m.

    Both houses of the General Assembly will be home during the legislative Spring Break from April 6th through 17th. This is a great opportunity to try to meet with your Senator or Representative to discuss specific bills or issues in your district. To learn more about meeting with your legislator and lobbying check out CRN's lobbying tool kit for more information.

  • Help for Homeowners in Foreclosure
  • The Department of Treasury has set up a website with a self-assessment tool to determine eligibility in the Making Home Affordable program. Visit http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov

  • Cook County Assessor launches initiative to mitigate foreclosure impacts
  • The foreclosure crisis continues to have detrimental impacts on property values throughout Cook County. Assessor James Houlihan is addressing this issue by launching a new initiative to assess the effects of foreclosures on property values with the goal of developing new strategies to improve the assessment process and mitigate the impact of the crisis on property values.

    The initiative will be a partnership between the Assessor's Office, data consulting firm RW Ventures, and University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy professor Christopher Berry. The MacArthur Foundation is supporting the project under its foreclosure prevention initiative.

    More Information

  • CCAO Press Release
  • In the News

  • ABC Local news
  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • CRN Analysis of DOH 4th Quarter Report
  • CRN presented its analysis of the 4th Quarter 2008 Department of Housing Quarterly Report at the Committee on Housing and Real Estate meeting on March 17th. The report marks the final quarter of the city's third Five Year Plan for Affordable Housing, Build, Preserve, and Lead.

    CRN extends our heartfelt thank you to our community-to each and all of you, the community developers, activists and service providers, to the leaders in government and the financial and philanthropic sectors-who have participated in the success of Build, Preserve, and Lead. Through our collaborations and advocacy for affordable housing we have quite a number of accomplishments to build upon such as the Downtown Density Bonus, the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, the Illinois Preservation Act and City Preservation Ordinance, the Rental Subsidy, and the Chicago Community Land Trust. These are the resources and policies that lay the foundation to value affordability and create community.

    At the hearing, Alderman Shiller recommended that the the Department produce even more detailed quarterly reports in light of the current housing market. Because aldermen use these quarterly reports it is beneficial to expand the reports to clarify what has been preserved and what are the pipeline projects since the still unstable market can impact project plans over the course of construction. The merger of Planning activities with the new Department of Community Development also provides an opportunity to enhance the quarterly reports.

    We begin the next Five Year Plan during the country's most challenging housing environment in recent memory. CRN calls on the Department not to lose sight of the real goal to create and preserve affordable housing for the most vulnerable residents of Chicago.

    Download the Full CRN Analysis Here

  • CRN HOUSING 2016 Forum Available on Chicago Amplified
  • Chicago Amp_logo

    Listen to the full transcript of CRN's Housing 2016 Forum held on January 12 at Chicago Amplified.

  • April Recess is Near! Schedule a Meeting with Your Representative
  • During the first two weeks of April, April 6-17th, most members of Congress and the Illinois General Assembly will return back to their home state and districts and visit with constituents. As April recess quickly approaches, begin to schedule meetings with your Representatives and Senators now.

    As a housing advocate, you should lobby your delegation--the experience and information you can provide on the housing situation in your Member's district is very valuable to him or her. In addition, this meeting allows an opportunity for your Representative to become familiar with your organization and the work you do.

    More information

    Key Committees

  • Network NewsMakers and Upcoming Events
    • Chicago Community Land Trust annual meeting will be on April 2nd from 5-7 at Northern Trust (50 S. LaSalle B6 Assembly room). RSVP to [email protected]. CRN Board members, Patricia Abrams and Guacolda Reyes, were also recently reappointed to the Community Land Trust Board of Directors.
    • The Woodstock Institute will hold its 24th Annual Community Reinvestment Reception and release of the Community Lending Fact Book on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 S. LaSalle, 3rd Floor. RSVP will be required for building access. Please bring government ID. Contact (312) 368-0310 to RSVP.
    • The City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services will hold a second workshop on the federal stimulus. The workshop will focus on Road Work, Street resurfacing and Demolition Construction Contracting Opportunities
      When: Saturday, April 4, 2009 9:00 a.m. -11:30 at Central West Satellite Center, 2102 West Ogden, Chicago, IL Download Registration Information
    • Congratulations to Angela Hurlock and Claretian Associates for receiving the NHS Neighborhood leadership award!

  • Help Build The Network!
  • The Chicago Rehab Network is the oldest and largest coalition of non-profit community developers and practitioners in the Midwest.

    CRN works to provide a foundation for new strategies for effective policy, communications, training and technical assistance to support the development and preservation of affordable housing across Chicago.

    You can support our work by spreading the word about CRN or by making a donation.

    Click Here to Support CRN

  • This publication is generously supported by the Local Support Initiatives Corporation and the Chicago Community Loan Fund
  • Rachel Johnston [email protected]
    Chicago Rehab Network http://www.chicagorehab.org

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