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

In this issue

State Weatherization Plan Released; Legislative Updates

CRN Celebrates Community Development Leaders

Making Home Affordable

President Obama signs AmeriCorps Bill into Law

CRN audio narrative project explores affordable housing issues

Congratulations to winners of the MacArthur Foundation Creative and Effective Institutions!

Upcoming Events


State Weatherization Plan Released; Legislative Updates

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was one of the many programs to gain funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Illinois' WAP program, operated through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) received an additional $242.5 million in funding. The draft 2010 year plan for Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) was released on April 17th followed by a public hearing on April 27th in Springfield.

The Chicago Rehab Network submitted comments to DCEO on suggested changes to the ILWAP program in light of the additional funding. Currently, ILWAP is targeted at single family residences. While multifamily units are eligible, owners of these buildings must provide half of the weatherization costs, an obstacle that often prevents weatherization meaning that residents continue to bear the cost of higher utilities. CRN's urges that weatherization be extended to multifamily units for a variety of reasons. First, the residents in these buildings would immediately benefit from lower utility costs, making their housing costs more affordable. Second, by investing in the building itself, these weatherization improvements are a way to preserve affordability for years to come. Finally, weatherization provides benefits by creating jobs for those doing the updates and also reduces green house gas emissions.

The comments included several recommendations which include:

  • Streamlining income eligibility/tenants test for WAP funding using existing requirements from other publicly assisted programs, dedicating no less than 10% of the ARRA weatherization funds to HUD and RD Preservation projects;
  • Eliminating the match requirement for nonprofit owners for eligible affordable rental property retrofits;
  • Providing outreach and education to overcome obstacles of using weatherization in large multifamily properties;
  • Enhancing the capacity of the existing weatherization network to facilitate the weatherization of rental housing occupied by low income families or seniors.

If you are interested in learning more about weatherization in your area, contact the provider in community listed in here.

State Housing Issues

CRN has reached out to State leadership regarding pressing concerns around affordable housing in Illinois. The new administration under Governor Pat Quinn provides renewed opportunities to enhance and improve affordable housing policies throughout the state.

Read CRN's letter to members of the Illinois State Senate outlining three issues of concern: the use of weatherization funds, the expansion of affordable housing stock through the Capital Budget, and the restoration of the Illinois Housing Trust Fund to its intended use.

Important City Legislation

Proposed at the April 22nd City Council meeting

  • An Ordinance outlining the implementation rules for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

    This ordinance will be heard at the next Committee on Housing and Real Estate hearing on May 5th at 10:00 am in Room 201-A in City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle.
  • A Resolution by Alderman Burke and Alderman Cochrane urges Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans to amend General Orders of Circuit Court of Cook County to provide for Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program.

    The resolution will be heard at the next Committee on Finance hearing on May 11th at 10:00 am in Council Chambers in City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle.

Passed at the April 22 City Council meeting

  • An Ordinance authorizing the appropriation and amendment to the year 2009 Budget to reflect funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
  • An Ordinance adopting a Memorandum of Understanding for Chicago 2016 Olympic bid.
  • An Ordinance requiring the Department of Community Development to make tax increment financing documentation publicly available in print or on the internet.

Federal Legislative Updates

Senate and House negotiators have reached agreement on a budget resolution for fiscal year 2010 that preserves the major priorities in President Obama's budget plan. The House and the Senate are voting on the resolution this week. The budget resolution sets the overall spending guidelines for the federal government. $1 billion has been included for the National Affordable Housing Trust fund.

  • CRN Celebrates Community Development Leaders
  • CRN honored 34 graduates of the 2007 and 2008 Community Development and Empowerment Series at its Celebration of Community Development Leaders event held on April 20th.

    The Community Development and Empowerment Series, in its 14th year, is a 16-day training series that delves into the process of affordable housing development, from Community Building to Tenant Services and Property and Asset Management.

    We are grateful for the support of our network of dedicated community leaders and recognize the importance of community groups working together to support community development, neighborhood stabilization and affordability throughout Chicago and beyond. We wish our graduates much success in their endeavors look forward to their ongoing impact on the community development field.

    One graduate who is using what she learned from the workshops and making an impact in her community is Ms. Angelia Smith. Ms. Smith leads the Ford Heights Community Service Organization whose mission is to "improve the quality of life for the underprivileged and to assist in times of crisis"-a befitting one given that many communities today are reeling from the effects of the economic recession.

    But Ford Heights is no stranger to economic crises. Ford Heights is a community located 25 miles south of downtown Chicago. Incorporated as East Chicago Heights in 1949, the Ford Motor Company established a stamping plant adjacent to the town in 1956 which offered jobs to the predominantly middle class African Africans in the community. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, the population in East Chicago Heights increased, peaking at more than 5,300 in 1980 according the U.S. Census. In 1987, the community was renamed Ford Heights after the Ford Motor Company stamping plant.

    Despite the boom in population and the presence of industry, the community experienced decline during that time. Unemployment was more than 50% in the 1980s and urban renewal destroyed much of the housing stock in Ford Heights. In 2000, unemployment was at 14%. The foreclosure crisis has hit the community hard as well taking with it the promise brought by a new subdivision, Beck's Corner, which broke ground two years ago. Many of the homes in the subdivision are now foreclosed, vacant and have been vandalized. The community also continues to be plagued with political upheaval and corruption.

    With these challenges ahead, the Ford Heights Community Service Organization, a minority 501c3 agency, continues to do what it has done since its establishment in 1968. Its core mission emphasizes emergency, supportive and educational services to individuals and families until they stabilize. Ms. Smith learned about CRN's Empowerment Series and signed up in 2006, completing the entire eight workshops in 2007.

    Since Ms. Smith's completion of the series, FHCSO was certified as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) in November 2008, a designation she states was due in part to the comprehensive training she received from CRN.

    Additionally, FHCSO is in the process of developing a management and project team for a proposed Senior Housing Development, its first housing development and an exciting opportunity to build new housing and bring much-needed economic activity in Ford Heights.

    "The Empowerment Series has been a tremendous benefit to me professionally," states Ms. Smith. "[The series] has provided me with the training needed to be successful in the implementation, development and completion of affordable housing. The CRN staff and instructors were knowledgeable and ready to assist at all times, in fact I have identified instructors from the series as potential members of our Project Development Team. I am grateful to have this meaningful development opportunity and wish to thank the entire CRN staff and instructors for providing me with the skills needed to offer affordable housing to individuals and families; housing they so richly deserve!"

    Working in a community once named the poorest suburb in America, Ford Heights Community Service Organization is working hard to rise up from decades of economic decline amid an already challenging environment. Through training and technical assistance, Chicago Rehab Network is committed to building capacity among community organizations like Ms. Smith's throughout Chicago, Cook County and the state.

    Registration is still open for some workshops. The brochure and registration form is available here.

    We thank the generous support of our event partners:

    Virmac Services, Inc.
    Chicago Community Loan Fund, Citi Foundation, Development Mortgage, Holsten Chicago, Landon, Bone, Baker Architects, The Private Bank, Local Initiatives Support Corp., National Equity Fund
    Brinshore Development LLC., POAH , Herbert H. Fisher Law Office, P.C., Hispanic Housing Development Corp., US Bank, Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.

  • President Obama signs AmeriCorps Bill into Law
  • President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act on April 21. The bill will significantly increase the number of people in the AmeriCorps national volunteer service program, from the current 75,000 to 250,000.

    In addition, the bill will create five new service corps: education, healthy futures, clean energy, veterans, and opportunity. Affordable housing is included as an activity under the new opportunity corps. The bill now includes language explicitly allowing volunteers to work on affordable housing by assisting in the construction, rehabilitation, or preservation of affordable housing units.

    Since 2005, the Chicago Rehab Network has hosted 18 AmeriCorps VISTAs, with seven currently placed with CRN or member organizations.

    The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is funded through 2014.

  • CRN audio narrative project explores affordable housing issues
  • These past few months the Chicago Rehab Network has seen the launch of an exciting new communications project that will give voice to important affordable housing issues throughout Chicago. Titled Talking to Walls, the project will capture the stories of people whose lives are intertwined with affordable housing and convey them in the form of a dynamic podcast hosted on the CRN's website (www.chicagorehab.org). With perspectives ranging from the staff of CDC's throughout Chicago neighborhoods, to city officials, for-profit developers and affordable housing tenants, Talking to Walls will focus on the work of CDC's, highlighting projects of the CRN's member organizations.

    In its first phase, Talking to Walls is already well underway. CRN VISTAs, Erin Potter and Jessica Friesen, have spent the last weeks interviewing LUCHA's Director of Building Development Todd Wolcott, Heartland Housing's Executive Director Andy Geer, and LCDC's Executive Director's Kim Jackson. These interviews will be part of episodes that feature affordable new construction and rehab projects underway throughout the city. Look for them on our website in the coming months! If you are interested in more information about the Talking to Walls project, please contact Jessica at jessica@chicagorehab.org or Erin at erin@chicagorehab.org.

  • Congratulations to winners of the MacArthur Foundation Creative and Effective Institutions!
  • We congratulate the accomplishments of CRN member, Center for Neighborhood Technology, CRN collaborator, the Chicago Community Loan Fund, and national partner, the National Housing Conference for wining the prestigious 2009 MacArthur Foundation Creative and Effective Institutions Award.

    The Chicago Rehab Network is a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur Creative and Effective Institutions Award.

    We are proud to be associated with these organizations and commend their dedication to community development and affordable housing.

  • Upcoming Events
  • Congratulations to Joy Aruguete of Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, Scott Bernstein of Center for Neighborhood Technology, Marca Bristo of Access Living, Thom Clark of Community Media Workshop, Rev. Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D. of the Community Renewal Society, and Raul Raymundo of The Resurrection Project who are among the 40 people being honored at the Business and Professional People for the Public Interest's 40th Anniversary Celebration on May 1st.

    LISC's New Communities Program is hosting an event, Chicago's Neighborhood Stabilization Program: Impacts and Implications, on Tuesday, May 5th from 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm at the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 969 E. 60th St., Chicago , IL. To RSVP or with questions, please contact cedochicago@gmail.com. Download the event flyer.

    The Claretian Associates 10th Ward Green Summit will be held on Saturday, May 9, 2009, 9:00 pm - 2:00 pm at 3201 East 91st Street, Chicago, IL 60617. This second annual event will offer local residents information on green, eco-friendly and healthy initiatives designed to enhance the community's quality of life and promote economic development.

    The Cook County Assessor's Office will hold an informational seminar on Property Taxes and Affordability on May 14 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm at Hotel Allegro, 171 West Randolph St. Chicago, IL. RSVP by May 4th to Max Eisenburger at meisenburger@cookcountyassessor.com or call 312-603-6858.

    Please join Woodstock Institute and the Illinois Community Investment Coalition (ICIC) for the ICIC Forum on Regional Reinvestment Priorities to be held on Tuesday May 12th from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois). RSVP to Beverly Berryhill at bhill@woodstockinst.org or 312-368-0310

    Greater Southwest Development Corporation will hold a FREE Networking Luncheon to kick off Business Development Month on Wednesday, May 13th at Palermo's Restaurant. Learn more about the upcoming seminars during the months of May and June. This will be a great opportunity to network with other retailers, see who is interested in starting a business but also get a flavor of the FREE seminars we will be rolling out in the weeks ahead.
    Where: Palermo's Restaurant: 3751 W 63rd Street
    Time: 11:30 am
    Registration: REQUIRED, Please register with d.fuentes@greatersouthwest.org
    Fee: FREE

    The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs will hold its Jurisprudence Awards Dinner at The Ritz Carlton. Anton R. Valukas, Chairman of Jenner & Block, will receive JCUA's Arthur Goldberg Social Justice Award. Visit JCUA's event page for more information.
    Date: Thursday, May 14, 2009
    Time: 5:30 PM
    Address:160 East Pearson Street Chicago, IL 60611

    The Community Renewal Society will hold the 35 Under 35 Leadership Awards Reception on May 16, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm at the Egan Urban Center, DePaul University (Downtown), 1 E. Jackson, Lower Level. Visit here for more information and to register for this event.

    The Resurrection Project invites everyone to Discover Pilsen: Bold Dreams and Big Dreams Community Showcase on Saturday, May 16, 2009, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm. Visit their website for more information.

    Save the date for Logan Square Neighborhood Association's 47th Annual Congress on Saturday, May 16, 2009, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm at Kelvyn Park High School, 4343 W Wrightwood, Chicago, IL. Visit www.lsna.net for more information.

    The 2009 Community Organizing Awards will be held on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 5:30 pm-7:30 pm at the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, 12 E. Erie, Chicago, IL. The event is hosted by The Chicago Community Trust, Wieboldt Foundation and the Woods Fund of Chicago. RSVP by May 19 to awards@wieboldt.org.

    The 15th Annual Deborah's Place Gala Celebration will be on Friday, May 29th at the International Ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago. More information and for how to purchase tickets available here .

  • 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 Initiatives Support Corporation and the Chicago Community Loan Fund
  • Rachel Johnston rachel@chicagorehab.org
    Chicago Rehab Network http://www.chicagorehab.org

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