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

In this issue

Economic Recovery and Legislative Updates

Chicago CDCs on the Leading Edge of Creating Livable Communities

City housing production update

Preserving Lathrop Homes

Neighborhood Stabilization - State Awards

Illinois Recovery website improved

Policy Reports

CRN in the News

Participate in the first Chicago Metro CDC Census

Chicago Rents Right Expo

Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!

Network NewsMakers and Upcoming Events


Economic Recovery and Legislative Updates

City of Chicago opens applications for Tax Credit Assistance Program

The City of Chicago Department of Community Development has begun receiving applications for funding under the Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) and Tax Credit Exchange Program (TCEP or "Section 1602") (View press release). The funds were authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to help fill the financing gaps in Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects impacted by the credit crunch.

At this time, the City is only accepting applications for projects that have already been selected for an allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Department of Community Development (DCD) or the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The due date is on September 30, 2009 at 4:30 pm. More details can be found by visiting www.cityofchicago.org/recovery or by contacting William Eager, Deputy Commissioner of Development Finance, at (312) 744-9475, or Tracy Sanchez at (312) 744-0892.

Olympics guarantee passed, 49-0

On September 9th, the City Council unanimously voted to back the 2016 Olympic Bid, approving an ordinance that would pledge unlimited financial support for the Olympics with taxpayer dollars. The ordinance also establishes an oversight process through a joint committee of the Budget and Government operations and the Finance Committee. If the City of Chicago is selected as the 2016 host, the current Bid Committee will be reorganized as the Olympic Organizing Committee, which will be tasked to provide quarterly reports on Olympic activities. These will include financial reports, forecasts, MBE/WBE contracting, and construction activities.

The Operating Committee must also report on status updates on compliance with the goals and principles set forth in the Memorandum of Understanding, including housing provisions in the Memorandum of Understanding. (Read CRN's letter to Aldermen calling for accounting of housing goals in the MOU) goals)

City of Chicago Preliminary Budget Hearings

With a projected $520 million shortfall in corporate fund revenue in FY 2010, the city's financial outlook is grim. In this time of economic crisis, CRN calls for the prioritization of affordable multifamily housing, safeguarding funding for the Department of Community Development, and improving in transparency and accountability. (Read CRN Budget Testimony)

In the next few weeks, the City will release its full budget proposal. In October, the full City Council will conduct budget hearings with all city departments. Stay tuned for more information and upcoming dates.

State of Illinois unemployment at 10%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released unemployment numbers for August 2009. Illinois is among 14 states with unemployment rates at least 10%. During the same time last year, Illinois' unemployment was 6.7 percent.

Illinois also lost almost 310,000 jobs since last year, the fourth highest among all states. Since last month, Illinois experienced 19,200 in job losses.

Recovery Websites:

  • Chicago CDCs on the Leading Edge of Creating Livable Communities
  • Members of President Obama's cabinet and other federal agencies made a local stop yesterday to tour West Garfield Park and Bethel New Life's developments including the Bethel Commercial Center as the first destination on their "livable communities listening tour."

    Designed by Farr & Associates, Bethel Commercial Center is a certified LEED Gold building, incorporating sustainable strategies in energy use, lighting, water and materials, as well as employing green design features and access to public transportation via the Green line "L" and major bus routes. It houses six retail spaces, including a Community Savings Center, the Bethel Family Economic Success program, a child development center, a community technology center, the State of Illinois Attorney General's Office, a Subway Sandwich franchise and a coffee shop.

    The "Partnership on Sustainable Communities" tour is intended to highlight an interagency partnership centered on creating walkable communities with transit access that provide a mix of housing options co-located with businesses and services. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson, and the Director of the White House Office of Urban Development Adolfo Carrion and Shelley Poticha, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Housing and Communities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development were all in attendance. The visiting group was met by Mayor Daley, State Representative LaShawn Ford, Alderman Ed Smith, Woodstock Institute President Dory Rand, LISC Program Director Joel Bookman , Scott Bernstein of Center for Neighborhood Technology, and Bethel New Life president and CEO, Steven McCullough who is also a CRN Executive Board member

    In his opening remarks, Daley noted that the tour is a part of the Obama administration's desire to increase the strength and ability of the individual departments by realizing the power of collaboration to combat social issues in all of their complexity. This was a statement later echoed by Adolfo Carrion as he expounded on the tour by explaining that, "The livability initiative, the inter-agency partnership was essentially to amplify the work, the creativity and the innovation that was already taking place and was simply not supported by the federal programs or the federal agencies, as the federal agencies have historically been operating in what is popularly known as 'silos.'" A problem, he asserts, that the Office of Urban Development was created to counter, acting as "center of gravity" for the work of these related agencies, so that "we can align transportation investments with housing investments with environmental improvements with job production with training of workers and all the other things that constitute community."

    Members of the visiting group consistently discussed the unique features of Bethel Commercial Center as well as the strengths of the organizations that helped to make it happen, such as Bethel New Life and the Chicago Rehab Network. Ray LaHood, who served as Illinois' 18th District Representative before being appointed to President Obama's cabinet, emphasized the importance that the current administration places on listening to local communities for what is working, "We came here to highlight what you're community is already doing! To use it as a model for what other communities should be doing." Lisa Jackson stressed that in addition to fulfilling several of the goals of their partnership, the Bethel Commercial Center is also LEED Gold Certified, which she cites as a strong example of "smart growth implementation-making investments in communities so they are better able to sustain themselves over time."

    In reiterating and adding to the statements of her colleagues, Shelley Poticha requested, "Help us understand how you did this wonderful project. How can we help you get to the next level? And what do we need to do to make it easier for communities like this to thrive and be built all over the country? You, represent the leading edge, in many ways, of what we are trying to accomplish nationally with this sustainable communities initiative."

    Photo: Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood addresses the crowd at Bethel New Life, the first stop along the Partnership on Sustainable Communities tour.

  • City housing production update
  • The Department of Community Development has released its progress reports on it housing production for the first and second quarter of 2009. (Read CRN's analyses of the first and second quarter reports)

    During both hearings, aldermen expressed concern about foreclosures and the impact of the recession on pipeline developments receiving city subsidy. Programs that rely on the private investment such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the Downtown Density Bonus have been especially hit hard by the economic slump. In the second quarter, the Department reports that seven DDB developments have been cancelled, representing more than $4.5 million in lost anticipated revenue. The Tax Credit Assistance Program and Tax Credit Exchange Program, created under the Recovery Act to help fill in financing gaps in shovel-ready developments affected by the credit crunch. To date, the Department has yet to distribute any of these funds although the State has already received its $95 million allocation.

    The Department also reports that foreclosure efforts funded by the Recovery Act funds are underway. Among the new foreclosure efforts is the expansion of the Troubled Buildings Initiative to include deconversion of distressed condominiums. The Department expects to receive $2.5 million of CDBG finds for this effort and an additional $2.9 million for foreclosure mitigation, outreach, and prevention programs.

  • Preserving Lathrop Homes
  • Current and former residents of Lathrop Homes and advocates for preservation spoke at the Chicago Housing Authority's monthly Board meeting on Tuesday, September 15th, calling attention to the ten years of uncertainty that has placed residents of this "island of affordability" in limbo.

    Since the launch of the Plan for Transformation, Lathrop's future has been summed up as "To Be Determined." Liala Beukema, who served for 17 years as pastor of Church of the Good News, which emerged from the Lathrop community. Beukema states that the "TBD" status has placed a burden on many residents. "We've lost so many good people because of the instability that this TBD status has rendered. We believe that a redevelopment plan that focuses on preservation of the current building and utilizing the skills of the people who are there could bring our ideas and dreams and our hopes to completion a lot quicker."

    In July 2008, a Chicago Tribune report found that 9 years into the Plan, only 30 percent of the redevelopment goals of the Plan has been finished. In March 2009, CHA, however, announced that the Plan is 70 percent complete.

    Still, CHA officials have yet to provide concrete plans for Lathrop. The Lathrop Leadership Team, a coalition of residents and leaders, has envisioned plans for their community which includes maintaining 100 percent affordability for low- to moderate income families, preservation of the buildings, which have been designated as eligible under the National Register of Historic Places, educational and job training opportunities, and accessible transportation programs such as a partnership with Center for Neighborhood Technology's I-GO Car sharing program.

    In the beginning of this year, CHA recognized the enormous need for family rental housing and created the Property Investment Initiative which would acquire foreclosed homes with large number bedrooms and convert them to rental housing. CHA has also partnered with the City of Chicago in its application to the second Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant where it seeks to use NSP2 dollars to expand the Initiative and create 200 affordable rental units. It makes sense that preserving Lathrop should be a part of CHA's strategy increase affordable rental housing for low and moderate income families especially in an area that has become too expensive for most Chicago residents.

  • Neighborhood Stabilization - State Awards
  • Illinois Housing Development Authority and the Illinois Department of Human Services announced grant winners of the statewide Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

    We congratulate CRN members, Genesis Housing Development Corporation and Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, two of the 18 organizations throughout the state that were awarded NSP dollars. Genesis is targeting its foreclosure efforts in the Chatham community and Hispanic Housing will focus on the Belmont Cragin community.

    More information

  • Illinois Recovery website improved
  • Good Jobs First, a DC-based watchdog group, released a report in July 2009 titled "Show Us the Stimulus: An Evaluation of State Government Recovery Act Websites." This report evaluates the websites created by state governments to highlight their role in the implementation of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).According to their evaluation, the State of Illinois was ranked last with a score of zero out of 100.

    Since the release, changes have been made but these improvements have only raised the website's quality to acceptable. Illinois still needs to make great strides to improve their transparency and accountability. The Illinois Recovery website improved by adding interactive maps and charts, providing county allocations, and listing all the programs that received funding from the ARRA. There is still room for considerable improvement. The website does not include a comparison of allocations with economic need, data on job creation, or the status of the projects being funded by the ARRA.

    Image: The Illinois Recovery website recently added new maps and graphs to show where stimulus dollars have been spent.

  • Policy Reports
  • Renters in Chicago

    On September 15th, Metropolitan Tenants Organization held an event co-sponsored by CRN among many others at which a new report, The State of Renters in Chicago, was presented. The forum included an overview of the report's findings and a panel discussion. Panelists included Sheila Crowley of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Deputy Commissioner Ellen Sahli of the Department of Community Development, and Janet Smith of UIC's Voorhees Center.

    The report uses Census data and information gathered from the 150,000 phone calls received by the MTO Hotline, a citywide service for tenants' rights. The report's findings call for a comprehensive national housing policy beginning with a convening of a national housing summit to address the housing needs of the country. The recommendations also call for a renewed commitment to affordable housing demonstrated by increased funding and production of affordable rental housing and the protection of renters in foreclosure.

    The full report can be found at MTO's website, http://www.tenants-rights.org/

    Rental vacancies increase but affordability still out of reach

    The DePaul University Institute for Housing Studies also released a report on the impact of the housing slump on the rental market. It finds that the weak economy and increased joblessness are contributing to the high vacancies in rental housing. The report indicates that the unemployment and the slow economy have lowered incomes and have caused many families to "double up" or move in with another family resulting in a stagnant rental market and higher vacancies. The study also shows that with unemployment affecting blue collar workers more, low and moderate income neighborhoods are disparately impacted by vacancies which add blight to communities. Further contributing to the instability of the local economy is the rediction of operating income among multifamily owners.

    The full report can be downloaded at http://ihs.depaul.edu/ihs/

    A Picture of Chicago Foreclosures, First Quarter 2009

    A report on foreclosure activity in Chicago from January-March 2009 is now available. Download the report here.

  • CRN in the News
  • CRN Executive Director, Kevin Jackson, was recently on Chicago Public Radio's Eight Forty Eight program with Deputy Commissioner of the City's Department of Community Development, Ellen Sahli to field questions and comments about the foreclosure crisis. The segment was part of the launch of Chicago Public Radio series, Facing the Foreclosure Crisis.

    Most recently, the series profiled the work of The Resurrection Project. TRP provides financial and homebuyer counseling to the Little Village and Pilsen communities and holds workshops in English and Spanish for struggling homeowners.

    CRN Board member and Executive Director of Claretian Associates, Angela Hurlock, was also profiled as part of Chicago Matters: Beyond Burnham programming, which is highlighting "local visionaries" who are contributing to the future of the Chicago region. Claretian Associates is a leader in creating affordable green housing.

  • 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 are 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 your world-moving work.

  • Chicago Rents Right Expo
  • The 6th Annual Chicago Rents Right Rental Housing Expo will be held on September 26 from 9:00 am to 3;00 pm at Fosco Park, 1312 South Racine, Chicago, IL

    Learn what you need to know about affordable rental housing in Chicago. The event is free. For more information call 311 or visit www.cityofchicago.org/dcd

  • Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!
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  • Network NewsMakers and Upcoming Events
  • The Renaissance Collaborative is celebrating Bronzeville at its 10th Annual Gala on September 24 at The Renaissance Collaborative Ballroom, 3763 South Wabash, Chicago, IL. Contact Tiffany Sledge at 773-924-9270 ext 25 or tsledge@trcwabash.org for more information.

    Citizen Action Illinois will host its 2009 Annual Dinner honoring Governor Pat Quinn on September 25 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, 720 South Michigan Avenue. RSVP to Hannah at 312-427-2114 or hannah@citizenaction-il.org

    Brighton Park Neighborhood Council is co-sponsoring a community meeting with representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank to discuss the foreclosure crisis on October 1st at 5:30 pm at Shields Elementary School Auditorium, 4250 S. Rockwell, Chicago. Tickets may be obtained by contacting 312-676-2826.

    Genesis Housing Development Corporation is holding its 13th Annual Friends of Genesis Celebration and Fundraiser, Healing Hands. The event will be held on October 8th at 1043 East 43rd Street, Chicago, IL. For more information call 773-285-1685.

    Please save the date for the Lathrop Homes Reunion 2009, "Lathrop Lives" on Saturday October 17, 2009 at 6:00 pm. For more information, visit the Logan Square Neighborhood Association website.

    Register for the Housing Action Illinois 2009 Convention., The Blue (and Green) Prints of Affordable Housing: Mapping Our Way Through A Changing Landscape. The event will be held at The Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago on October 22. Visit http://www.housingactionil.org/ for more information.

    The Chicago Community Loan Fund is holding its Fourth Annual Building for Sustainability Workshop on October 19-20 at the Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 North Sacramento Boulevard. For more information, visit CCLF's website or email workshop@cclfchicago.org.

    Hispanic Housing recently acquired the Squire Village apartments in Elgin, IL for affordable housing preservation. Hispanic Housing has proposed $1.6 million for rehabilitation of the 181 townhome units for families. For more information, visit www.hhdc.org

    CRN Members, please mark your calendars for a membership meeting on October 15th. More details are forthcoming.

  • 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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