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

In this issue

Economic Recovery and Legislative Updates

City of Chicago releases FY 2010 budget

First Quarter 2009 Housing Production Report Hearing Next Week

Chicago Housing Authority begins Ickes demolition; Camera Initiative

An affordable housing ally in McHenry County

Federal Update: Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act of 2009

TARP Update

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America expands AmeriCorps

Participate in the first Chicago Metro CDC Census

Empowerment Series

Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!

Network NewsMakers


Economic Recovery and Legislative Updates

Department of Community Development releases RFPs for Foreclosure prevention and outreach programs under the Recovery Act

DCD is soliciting proposals to use $5.4 million for foreclosure prevention and mitigation initiatives under ARRA. The initiatives cover foreclosure counseling, foreclosure prevention outreach, and to expand the Troubled Buildings Initiative to include acquisition and deconversion of distressed condominiums into rental housing.

More details can be found in the
City's recovery site.

Aldermen respond to Daley's Olympics financial guarantee

Last month, Alderman Flores of the 1st Ward introduced an ordinance which would cap the City of Chicago's maximum financial liability at $500 million should Chicago host the 2016 Olympics Games. This comes after an unexpected move by Mayor Daley, who, while making the pitch for Chicago's bid in Lausanne, Switzerland last month, announced that he pledged to sign the International Olympic Committee's full financial guarantee contract. The surprise overseas contradicts the long held stance by the Mayor that taxpayers will not carry any financial burden past the $500 million guarantee agreement adopted by the City Council in 2007. So far, twelve aldermen have signed on to the proposed ordinance and the issue has been referred to the Committee on Finance. No date has been set for the next Finance committee meeting and the full Council will meet again on September 9.

Vacant buildings ordinance amendment

The Committee on Housing and Real Estate heard a proposed amendment to the vacant property ordinance last week which would expand the definition of "owner" to include property managers and financial institutions initiating foreclosure. The proposed ordinance was not able to pass through committee due to time and the meeting recessed until another meeting can be scheduled in September.

Governor Quinn signs State budget

State legislators also passed a long-awaited budget for the 2010 fiscal year on July 16th. However, the $26 billion budget comes with potentially devastating cuts and thousands of layoffs. On Friday, July 31st, Governor Quinn released more details on his plan to balance the budget. It includes $1 billion in cuts in the form of 2,600 layoffs and 12 furlough days for state employees, and cuts in Medicaid and grants. Education and prisons will bear the most impact with a proposed 1,000 layoffs in the Department of Corrections and a 50 percent cut in funds for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission which provides college scholarships to Illinois students.

Even with these cuts, the state still faces a nearly $4 billion backlog in unpaid bills and would have to borrows $3.4 billion in order to make pension payments. Governor Quinn and many others contend that the only way to address unmet needs in the budget is to raise the income tax.

Also, for the first time, affordable housing received a $130 million allocation in the Illinois capital bill under the Illinois Jobs Now! plan. The bill, signed on July 13th, is a culmination of years of efforts from housing advocates who worked tirelessly to secure this commitment for affordable housing to be included in the state's capital construction plan. The funds, $30 million of which are targeted for veterans and the disabled, will be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

More Information:

Illinois Recovery site ranks last according to report

A Washington D.C. based group, Good Jobs First, released a report on the effectiveness and transparency of state recovery websites. Illinois, in their report, ranks at the bottom of the list.

Read more

Recovery Websites:

Attend community meetings on Chicago's Olympics Bid

Chicago 2016 is hosting several Community meetings throughout Chicago to inform residents of the Olympic Bid. This is an opportunity for resident to voice concerns and participate in the Olympics discussion.

The full community meetings calendar can be found at Chicago2016.org.

Next meeting:
August 10, 2009, 6:00 pm
Woodson Regional Library
9525 S. Halsted

  • City of Chicago releases FY 2010 budget
  • With a projected $520 million shortfall in corporate fund revenue in FY 2010, the city's financial outlook is grim. The Office of Budget and Management released the estimated $6.2 billion preliminary budget on July 30th with a $3.3 billion corporate fund.

    The shortfall is due primarily to the decreasing revenues from real estate transactions as the recession continues to inflict significant impact on the city's resources. Last year, the city council agreed to lease the city's parking meters to a private entity creating much-needed revenue to plug a deficit and for a "rainy day" fund. (See the Chicago's Inspector General's analysis of the parking meter deal)

    Most of the rainy day fund-$270 million-will be used to plug the 2009 shortfall and the remaining $51 million will be used towards the 2010 deficit.

    In the preliminary 2010 budget, the Department of Community Development is estimated to receive just under$30 million from the corporate fund, about $3.5 million less than the estimated year-end expenses for 2009. The Department also has additional grants of $170.3 million, which includes the $55 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and another $80.4 million in Recovery Act funds. The Recovery Act funds are from the following three programs:$39.1 million from the Tax Credit Assistance Program, $22.5 million from the Tax Credit Exchange Program, and $18.8 million from the Workforce Investment Act.

    The total preliminary budget for the Department of Community Development, including corporate funds, grants, and Recovery Act funds is approximately $281 million.

    Stay tuned a more detailed analysis of the preliminary budget from CRN. In the meantime mark your calendars for the upcoming Public Hearings on the City budget:

    Registration will begin at 6:00 pm and the hearings start at 7:00 pm

    • August 25, 2009 - South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive
    • August 26, 2009 - Central West Regional Center, 2102 West Ogden Blvd.
    • August 27, 2009 - Laughlin Falconer, 3020 North Lamon Ave.
    Download the 2010 Preliminary Budget

  • First Quarter 2009 Housing Production Report Hearing Next Week
  • The Aldermanic Committee on Housing and Real Estate will hold a meeting on Tuesday, August 11 at 10am to hear progress on the city's affordable housing production (Download the City's report). This is a public meeting in which anyone can attend or present testimony.

    The Chicago Rehab Network will be presenting its analysis of DCD's production at the hearing which will be held in City Hall Council Chambers, 121 N. LaSalle, 2nd Floor.

    Download CRN's 1st Quarter Analysis

  • Chicago Housing Authority begins Ickes demolition; Camera Initiative
  • The Chicago Housing Authority has begun demolition of six buildings in the Harold Ickes Homes complex. The demolition will cost over $3 million and will be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. CRN first raised the issue back in March on whether CHA is making best use of public dollars intended to jumpstart the economy.

    CHA touts the demolition as a "beginning of renewal" for the area although CHA has provided little detail as to what its plans are for the site. Since the inception of the Plan for Transformation, CHA's plan for Ickes Home has not been consistent. Only last year did CHA change its plan for Ickes to "undetermined" after years slated for rehabilitation. There are 79 families still left in the remaining three Ickes buildings according to CHA and the future of their homes is uncertain. CHA has pledged to convene a working group to determine the next steps for Ickes Homes.

    Security cameras authorized

    In July, the CHA approved the installation of 3,000 security cameras throughout CHA's developments. The contract for the $23 million initiative, paid for through stimulus dollars, was awarded to Siemens technologies. The move has drawn criticism on whether cameras are an effective crime-deterrent and CHA has not provided details on the locations of the cameras. The CHA states that 30 Section 3 jobs will be created from the camera initiative.

    Plan for Transformation is 70 percent complete; CHA is looking for former residents

    Former CHA residents now have less than 90 days to satisfy their right to return to public housing, as the CHA reports that it has completed nearly 70 percent of its redevelopment of public housing under the Plan.

    Under the Relocation Rights Contract, residents who lived in CHA units on October 1, 1999 have the right to return to a new mixed-income unit, a rehabbed unit, or to the private rental market through Housing Choice Vouchers. According to the CHA, about 3,200 former CHA residents who are eligible have not been located. Just over half of eligible residents have exercised their right to return.

    Eligible former residents are urged to contact CHA or the Central Advisory Council of CHA residents before the 90 days lapse, after which the public housing waiting list can be opened. A public notice along with the names of residents is published in the CHA website.

  • An affordable housing ally in McHenry County
  • Mary Lu Seidel started her housing career of 20 plus years in an attorney's office. The attorney represented the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). After a working for LISC and ACORN in Chicago, she realized that she could make an impact in her own community 50 miles away in McHenry County and decided to take a position at the Corporation for Affordable Homes for McHenry County (CAHMCO) and resumed her role as an advocate for affordable housing.

    CAHMCO is the organization that, in partnership with the McHenry County Planning and Development Committee, has received an additional $3,085,695 in emergency grant funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). These funds will be used to alleviate the still-growing foreclosure problem in the county by purchasing and rehabbing foreclosed homes that can then be resold or used as rental for county residents left struggling by the current economy.

    There is much work to be done in a very short time frame--NSP funds must be committed in 18 months. CAHMCO has issued requests for proposals from various fields to assist in this endeavor--developers, lenders, appraisers, and construction specialist to name a few. The work will require a concerted effort with Ms. Seidel leading the initiative.

    Ms. Seidel's years of community leadership, the redevelopment work she did in Chicago as well as CAHMCO's reputation in the community have her feeling positive about the NSP funding. "It just fits perfectly into our mission of what would work best for this county. It is single family, higher volume single family rehab for eventual or immediate ownership," she remarked.

    Working on affordable housing in the largely suburban northern county appears to have its own set of challenges apart from related work in the city. "The problems of affordable housing in McHenry County are enhanced because NIMBY-ism is even greater here." She mentions municipal ordinances preventing more than two unrelated people from living in the same house and zoning restrictions concerning lot sizes, square footage and material requirements, "It's expected to improve the aesthetics of the community, but, if you have a minimum requirement of 2,500 sq ft with a wood exterior on a 3 quarter acre lot. How do you make that affordable?"

    Ms. Seidel says that McHenry County, like many communities, have been deeply affected by the recession. A vibrant county with good jobs and high median incomes, Ms. Seidel feels that the affluence often creates more opposition to the notion of housing for people who are less well-off. "That's probably our single biggest challenge." But the new-found openness of her community to discuss affordable housing options is what she calls a "possible silver lining in this very dark cloud of our economy."

    CAHMCO hosted a housing forum in February, and Ms. Seidel believes there was high turn out because "people are finally seeing it. Neighborhoods and communities understand that they too are at risk. There's just more compassion."

    It is part of the message CAHMCO looks to communicate in all of their work. Ms. Seidel's response to the too-common refrain of "But we don't want poor people in our community!" is quite simple: "They already are [here]. They're just living badly." And that message is really beginning to hit home with a lot of people.

  • Federal Update: Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act of 2009
  • The Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, Rep. Barney Frank, is drafting a bill that will help tackle the issue of housing preservation. He released a discussion draft of the bill on June 23, 2009 titled the "Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act of 2009." While this extensive draft discusses many pertinent issues concerning housing and tenant rights, its driving theme is the importance of preserving affordable housing in this country. Some of the draft's main points are

    • Giving HUD the authority to convert rent supplement assistance into project based section 8 assistance;
    • Providing funds for the rehabilitation of affordable housing complexes;
    • Ensuring standards for dilapidated or deteriorating projects; and
    • Establishing an online preservation database.

    While this bill has not yet been brought to the House floor for official debate or consideration, the Committee on Financial Services has already held a hearing on it. As committee members debated the merits and particulars of the bill, they also heard testimony from several groups. The National Low Income Housing Coalition gave testimony in favor of the bill, particularly the formation of the preservation database. "With shared and well understood data, HUD can more quickly reach an understanding of preservation issues and work on solutions," said the NLIHC delegate, Vincent O'Donnell, on behalf of the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association, said "the proposed bill would permit conversion of RAP and Rent Supplement contracts to project-based section 8 assistance, saving thousands of units of affordable housing." Secretary Donovan of HUD also spoke in favor of the bill, "The bill tackles a detailed list of actions that could be taken. This legislation provides us with the foundation to move forward in a comprehensive and strategic manner."

  • TARP Update
  • Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, Herbert Allison, recently presented an update of the Department of Treasury's efforts to stabilize the nation's financial system. The full transcript of his testimony can be found at the Treasury website.

  • Edward M. Kennedy Serve America expands AmeriCorps
  • More money, more recognition-it sounds too good to be true, and it almost is. Yet, that is exactly what the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America act aims to do; more money and more recognition for nonprofits. Effective as of October 1st, the Act seeks to address the nation's "greatest needs" through volunteerism. Integral to this plan is the strengthening of nonprofits. The Act makes $5.7 Billion dollars available over the next six years (pending Congressional approval). Money relevant to CDCs comes in three forms; provided, of course, that the organization wins the tough grant competition for them. The Volunteer Generation Fund will provide nonprofits with money to recruit and use a "generation of volunteers". Nonprofit Capacity Building grants assist in the growth of small and medium nonprofits. Last, the Social Innovation Fund provides seed money to expand nonprofits' successes and experiment with new social projects. All of these funds fall under the overarching and rapidly expanding Americorps program. To check eligibility and get more information go to nationalservice.gov.

  • Participate in the first Chicago Metro CDC Census
  • The CDC Census has debuted, and both Chicago metro CDCs and CRN staff are working hard to complete it. Once completed, the Census will provide an information base to show the economic boost CDCs bring to local communities. Making your organization part of this data will be crucial to demonstrating the need for increased funding to Chicago-area CDCs. Though all organizations or busy with the work of helping their communities, the groups that have completed the survey with the help of CRN staff have found it to be a fast and instructive process.

    Don't hesitate to contact CRN to schedule time for staff to help you be counted in this census of our world-moving work.

  • Empowerment Series
  • The 14th annual Community Development and Empowerment series has come to a close having trained over 60 practitioners in the basics of affordable housing development. Special congratulations goes to Beverly Truman of TruSource, Luster Lockhart of BL Block, Emily Sipfle of CRN, Max Eisenburger of the Cook County Assessor's Office, Teresa Hollingbird-Jackson of Aseret Development, Norman Baldwin of Lawndale Business and Local Development, and Alejandro Guzman of ENLACE Chicago for earning their certificate by completing each class in the eight-session series.

    The Series continues to grow in diversity of subject matter and participants, bringing in expert guest speakers on everything from NSP to energy efficiency programs, and touring developments on the West and North sides to get an up-close look at affordable development. The next series, to begin in the spring of 2010, promises to be filled again with up-to-date information to empower communities through affordable development. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to be notified of the dates for the next Empowerment Series.

    We would like to thank all the 2009 participants and especially thank the Northern Trust for generously providing their terrific facilities for the second year in a row.

    Photo: Previous graduates of the Empowerment Series are honored at CRN's April 2009 graduation event.

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  • Network NewsMakers
  • Wanda White-Gills, activist and tireless advocate for communities, passed away on June 25th after a battle with cancer. Wanda was Executive Director at Teamwork Englewood and served as Deputy Commissioner for Economic Development under Mayors Washington, Sawyer, and Daley. Her energy and passion will not be forgotten.

    Best wishes to Erika Poethig who was recently appointed by President Obama as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R). Prior to her appointment, she was a remarkable leader in affordable housing as the associate director for housing in the Human and Community Development program at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Erika also served as assistant commissioner at the City of Chicago's Department of Housing. Congratulations to Erika and we commend her dedication to community development and affordable housing.

    Cook County Commissioner Robert Maldonado has been appointed as the new Alderman of the 26th Ward replacing Billy Ocasio who is now a senior adviser to Governor Pat Quinn.

    The Metropolitan Tenant's Organizations is hosting a forum, The State of Renters in the City of Chicago, on September 15th from 8:00 am - 11:00 am at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 S. LaSalle Street. RSVP by September 11 by calling 773.292.4980 x 222 or emailing clarissa@tenants-rights.org.

    Also, please save the date for the Lathrop Homes Reunion 2009, "Lathrop Lives" on Saturday October 17, 2009 at 6:00 pm.

    Photo: Wanda White-Gills led a workshop at CRN's Southside Preservation Summit in 2006 urging tenants take action to preserve affordable housing.

  • 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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