News from the Chicago Rehab Network
30 years of Community Empowerment and Development without Displacement January 2010

In this issue

CRN 2010 Priorities

Upcoming Trainings and Workshops

Federal Updates: Wall Street Reform; Jobs for Main Street; HUD Budget

Third Quarter Housing Report

Foreclosure Report

CHA Issues RFQ for Lathrop Homes

Participate in the Metro Chicago CDC Census

CRN Americorps*VISTAs honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on National Day of Service

2010 Census Jobs are available

Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!


CRN 2010 Priorities

With the New Year upon us, Chicago Rehab Network has established a set of priorities that will drive our policy and advocacy work for 2010.

  • We will continue to monitor and impact the delivery of federal stimulus programs to advance the priorities of CDC's and community-based organizations. With several stimulus programs currently underway and more funds still coming through the pipeline, measuring the outcomes and determining opportunities for improvement are necessary to achieve greater impact and efficiency.
  • We will support communities by increasing knowledge and understanding of the foreclosure crisis and its impacts, as well as reporting on critical demographic and housing trends in Chicago and beyond. Knowing the scope of the foreclosure crisis and the existing and future demand for affordable housing are key in shaping policies that truly help those who need it most.
  • We will advance our communications by using the valuable input of our members and audience to improve our various communication vehicles, taking advantage of New Media outlets, and highlighting innovative research and approaches to the housing crisis. In the next few weeks we will need your support in assessing our communications activities. Critical to our work is our ability to push the message of affordability and inform you of key issues affecting your communities. We want to know how we are doing and where we can do better. Soon, you will receive a Communications Survey from CRN. You feedback is essential and greatly appreciated.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to the challenges of the New Year.

City of Chicago receives over $98 million in NSP2 grants.

On January 15th, HUD Secretary Shawn Donovan announced the much-anticipated NSP2 grant awards with the State of Illinois receiving more than $160 million of the almost $2 billion available funds disbursed nationally. We congratulate the City of Chicago which will use the new funds to build on its current work implementing the NSP1 program. As with NSP1, we will track the progress of NSP2 and advocate for transparency and integration of these new activities as part of the City's quarterly reporting process on the Five-Year Affordable Housing Plan.

  • Upcoming Trainings and Workshops
  • Beginning on February 26, the Chicago Rehab Network will host the 15th annual Community Development and Empowerment Series. This year's Series is presented by Harris Bank and will be offered over an eight-month period with one session per month. The Series provides an opportunity to get an in-depth view of affordable housing from community building and engagement to financial analysis to construction and property management. Call 312.663.3936 or visit www.chicagorehab.org/capacity/empowerment.htm for more information.

    Last week, CRN offered another session of the Understanding Foreclosure: Property Research workshop. Using both single family and multifamily examples, this training shows community developers the skills they need to find property, investigate its legal status and progress in foreclosure, and then even conduct a short feasibility study for its acquisition and rehab. Veteran trainers Teresa Prim and Erica Pascal conducted the foreclosure workshop and was generously supported by Chase Bank.

    Stay tuned for more information about upcoming workshops in our series of foreclosure trainings. If your organization is seeking training or technical assistance, please contact CRN at 312-663-3936. Learn more about CRN's Capacity Building programs.

    Photo: Participants go through practice worksheets at last week's Understanding Foreclosure workshop held at The Renaissance Collaborative.

  • Federal Updates: Wall Street Reform; Jobs for Main Street; HUD Budget
  • House passes bill to create Consumer Financial Protection Agency but Dodd considers dropping idea

    On December 11 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, moving forward on an important bill that would protect consumers from deceptive financial products.

    However, as the Senate returns back to session, a looming issue endangers the bill. Senator Chris Dodd, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee and who introduced a draft bill in November, is considering removing the provision to create an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) in order to reach bipartisan support. Sen. Dodd, instead, is pushing for a more robust consumer protection division within an existing federal agency like the Department of Treasury.

    The House version keeps the CFPA as an independent entity tasked to protect consumers from deceptive practices in the financial markets and ensure accountability and responsibility in the nation's financial system. However, amendments were introduced that weakens the agency including an amendment that preempts State authority over enforcing consumer protection. This means that States cannot enforce stronger consumer protection laws even if they have more teeth than federal law.

    CFPA is central to financial services reform. An independent regulatory body with one mission, to protect consumers from fraud and deceptive practices, signifies a call for greater oversight and accountability where existing regulators have failed. Mortgage fraud and lax financial regulations have been the main causes of the current financial crisis and ensuing economic recession.

    We urge you to tell your elected leaders that American consumers need accountability and responsibility in the financial sector and to ensure that another financial crisis does not happen again.


    Jobs for Main Street Act

    On December 16th, the House passed the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 (HR 2847) to create or save jobs with targeted investments for highways and transit, school renovation, hiring teachers, police, and firefighters, small business, job training and affordable housing. These investments will be funded by redirecting $75 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) savings from Wall Street to Main Street.

    The bill redirects $48.3 billion to help put people to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and cleaning our air and water. This includes $1 billion to capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate affordable rental homes and $65 million for project-based vouchers. The Public Housing Capital Fund will also receive $1 billion to put towards public housing.

    The bill will also provide $26.7 billion to stabilize public service jobs such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers. High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans' paychecks. The bill will provide assistance in the form of unemployment insurance, small business loans, child care tax credits, and much more.

    The Senate is expected to take up the bill when it reconvenes in January. Stay tuned for more information and be sure to let your elected officials know that you support affordable housing and the creation of the National Housing Trust Fund.

    HUD Budget Appropriations

    The HUD FY 2010 Spending Bill was signed into law by President Obama on December 16. The bill provides more than $46 billion for federal housing programs, an increase of 11 percent from FY 2009 budget. (See Housing and Community Budget Budget Chart)

    Also, new programs are being introduced next year including the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, designed as a successor to the HOPE VI program (see article below for more information); the Sustainable Communities Initiative, a joint initiative by HUD and the Department of Transportation promoting transit and housing; and the Energy Innovation Fund, a program to leverage private funds for energy efficient retrofits in FHA-insured housing, public and federally-assisted housing.

    Chicago CDCs on the Leading Edge of Creating Livable Communities (CRN E-Newsletter, September 2009)

    Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Act of 2009

    Building on HOPE VI, the 2010 Federal budget includes $250,000,000 for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. The grant program aims to transform areas of poverty with severely distressed housing and provide the potential for long term sustainability. Local governments, public housing agencies, CDCs, assisted housing owners, and for and nonprofit entities are all eligible. Grantees are required to transform housing, aid in economic self-sufficiency, and focus on accessibility and green projects.

    There are two key components to the initiative. First, all residents displaced by the transformation must be guaranteed first choice post- transformation housing and receive services to aid the transition. Second, 100% of units undergoing construction must be replaced, thus preventing a decline in units. Choice Neighborhoods grants are also eligible for construction and demolition, purchasing foreclosed homes, support services, educational opportunity, rent and work incentives, job training, endowments, community improvements and land banking as long as the housing transformation requirements also take place.

    More information:

    Enterprise Community Partners

  • Third Quarter Housing Report
  • The Department of Community Development released its report on its housing production through the Third Quarter 2009 in December.

    The Third Quarter report includes new updates on the city's progress under two federal programs aimed at addressing the foreclosure crisis: Making Home Affordable and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

    The Making Home Affordable program helps troubled owners by working with servicers to modify mortgages in to more affordable payments. The Department reports that its Fix Your Mortgage events have helped 15 percent of borrowers receive temporary modifications from their lenders.

    Earlier this year, the City received more than $55 million in federal grant money under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The program enlists the help of qualified local organizations and developers to acquire vacant and foreclosed properties and return them back to use. The Department reports acquisition of 11 units thus far and has committed more than $212,000 for acquisition through the third quarter. To date, the Department has acquired 94 units according to the most recent update in the Chicago NSP website, www.chicagonsp.org.

    CRN presented its analysis at the Third Quarter report hearing on December 14. CRN's recommendations include:

    • Include comprehensive reporting of Chicago Housing Authority activities and it's use of public resources in the Quarterly reports.
    • Pursue permanent loan modifications under the Making Home Affordable program. Permanent modifications ensure long-term affordability and decrease the risk of foreclosure.
    • Improve reporting on the progress of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Reporting for NSP in new in the Third Quarter but lacks critical information such as acquisition strategy, income targeting, and the organizations involved--knowledge that allows a robust accounting of the City's progress as stated in the NSP Plan.

    The full CRN analysis is available online at www.chicagorehab.org

  • Foreclosure Report
  • CRN's November foreclosure report, A Picture of Chicago Foreclosures, is now available for download.

    There were 1,143 filings in November for a total of nearly 18,400 filings since January, a 15 percent increase from all of 2008. It is important to note that the County's moratorium on accepting new defaults in July and August last year may have artificially lowered the rate of foreclosures for the subsequent months.

    Download this and other monthly reports on our website.

  • CHA Issues RFQ for Lathrop Homes
  • The CHA has issued a Request for Qualifications on Lathrop Homes. A Pre-Submittal Conference will be held at CHA Headquarters, 60 East Van Buren TOMORROW, Jan. 20, 2010 at 10:00 am.

    According to the Lathrop Working Group, a coalition of Lathrop resident leaders, there were several key provisions that were added that are aligned with their vision for their community. Among these include:

    • The RFQ is for the revitalization, not redevelopment, of Lathrop.
    • The RFQ identifies historic preservation as a priority of the revitalization, and a variety of changes to eliminate a bias against rehabilitation.
    • Instead of requiring a total of 1,200 units, the RFQ allows for a range of 800 to 1,200 units. As a result, potential development teams can vigorously pursue preservation of Lathrop's historic buildings and open spaces.
    • In lieu of projecting a profit, development teams can submit an Affordability Plan. This creates a fair playing field for non-profit development teams. It allows the winning team to focus on providing affordable housing rather than on generating revenue.
    • The RFQ moves away from the CHA's previous concept of a "mixed-income community" that is 1/3 market-rate by calling for all housing at Lathrop to be along a "continuum of affordability." It also encourages the use of land trusts as a tool to keep for-sale housing affordable for future home buyers.

    Despite these successes, the working group will continue discussions with CHA on these issues of concern:

    • The RFQ limits public housing to one-third of total units. The Lathrop Working Group believes that due to the scarcity of affordable units in the North Side, this percentage should be 50% public housing.
    • The RFQ asks the development team to include housing for families with incomes as high as 200% of the Area Median Income ($150,000 for a family of four). As such, the RFQ is not aligned with combining public housing with affordable rental and affordable homeownership.

    A copy of the RFQ is available on CRN's website and can be downloaded here.

  • Participate in the Metro Chicago CDC Census
  • The Chicago Rehab Network's CDC census has recorded over 4,000 units developed by CDCs. Make sure your organization is counted in this initiative to detail the scope and depth of CDC impact in the Metro Chicago area.

    The CDC Census is online and CRN staff will make this process simple for your organization. We are available to come to your organization to help you fill out your own page. If you have been invited to the Census and have not completed it, CRN will provide a staff member to assist you.

    If you would like to be counted among the achievements of Metro Chicago CDCs, email census@chicagorehab.org to be given a link to an individualized online census page for your organization to complete. Help us show the impact of the CDC movement in Chicago by being a part of this ongoing effort.

  • CRN Americorps*VISTAs honor Martin Luther King, Jr. on National Day of Service
  • CRN's Americorp*VISTAs, Jessica Friesen, Katie Brennan, and Adam Morgan, commemorated Dr. King's legacy with a "Day On" through community service and community building projects. Yesterday, they painted murals and interior walls at Wadsworth Elementary School in Woodlawn along with corps members of City Year Chicago.

  • 2010 Census Jobs are available
  • The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting temporary, part-time census takers for the 2010 Census. These short-term jobs offer good pay, flexible hours, paid training, and reimbursement for authorized work-related expenses, such as mileage incurred while conducting census work. Best of all, census takers work right in their own communities.

    Census taker jobs are excellent for people who want to work part-time, those who are between jobs, or just about anyone who wants to earn extra money while performing an important service for their community. Bilingual speakers are encouraged to apply.

    Call the Census Jobs Line: 1-866-861-2010 to learn where to apply and get tested or visit www.census2010.gov.

    Do you have an event or announcement you would like on Network NewsMakers? Please send them to pia@chicagorehab.org or call CRN at 312-663-3936.

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    Rachel Johnston rachel@chicagorehab.org
    Chicago Rehab Network http://www.chicagorehab.org

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