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

In this issue

Federal Legislative Updates

City Housing Production Progress in 4th Quarter 2009.

Residents Voice Concerns at Public Hearings on Foreclosure Efforts

New CRN Reports

Other Reports

Cook County Mediation Program and Funding Opportunity


2010 Community Development and Empowerment Series

Network NewsMakers

Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!


Federal Legislative Updates

Housing Preservation Bill Introduced in Congress

House Committee on Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank formally introduced a comprehensive Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act of 2010.

CRN along with housing advocates throughout the country have significantly contributed to the bill in the past few years, offering recommendations and proposals as part of the National Preservation Working Group. While the successful passage of this bill at its current state is unclear, some of the provisions may be included in the HUD Appropriations bill instead. Major provisions include:

  • New Project-Based Section 8 contracts to replace Mod Rehab, Rent Supplement, and Rental Assistance Program contracts.
  • Gives HUD the Right of First Refusal for assisted properties before a sale to the private market in order to ensure preservation and maintain affordability.
  • Authorizes the transfer of rental assistance vouchers from physically obsolete or economically infeasible properties to more viable properties.
  • Provides various grants and loans to rehabilitate assisted properties for preservation, and grant funding for tenant outreach and training.

We commend the leadership of Chairman Frank for his leadership and commitment to the preservation of critical affordable housing stock throughout the country. We will keep you updated on the bills status and progress in the coming months.

The Center for Housing Policy and the National Housing Trust will present an overview of the Preservation bill on Tuesday, April 20th at CHP's Live at the Forum event.
Learn more about the event.

Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010

The Recovery Act authorized State housing agencies and other tax credit allocation agencies like the City of Chicago to exchange a portion of their Low Income Housing Tax Credit annual allocation (9 percent credit) for an up-front payment. A previous bill, H.R. 4213, has received support from the House and Senate to extend this program through 2010.

This bill [H.R. 4849] includes a provision to monetize tax credits financed through tax-exempt bonds (4 percent credit). This would give owners of tax-exempt bond-financed buildings, placed in service after date of enactment and prior to December 31, 2010, the ability to choose to receive a direct payment instead of the tax credits. The payment would equal to $0.85 to dollar value of the tax credit.

Financial Reform Legislation

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's draft financial system reform was swiftly approved by a 13-10 committee vote. The House version of the bill, H.R. 4173, was approved in December.

The bill called the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, attempts to create a better monitoring system to avoid another economic crisis and address "too big to fail" financial institutions. The highlight of the bill is the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to oversee and regulate various financial products and industries including mortgages, auto loans, pay day loans, credit rating agencies, to protect consumers from unfair and predatory practices.

Dodd's bill will house this agency at the Federal Reserve while the House version creates an independent Agency, which advocates argue is necessary in order to truly protect consumers especially since current regulators failed to protect many homeowners from predatory lending.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. For more information, click here

  • City Housing Production Progress in 4th Quarter 2009.
  • The Department of Community Development presented its progress on the City's affordable housing production at a public hearing on April 8th. Representatives from Action Now, West Side Housing Coalition, and Lakeside Community Development Corporation Corporation were also on hand to present their concerns and opportunities regarding the City's housing progress.

    CRN's analysis of 4th Quarter housing production can be downloaded here.

    The 4th Quarter report represents the completion of the first year of the fourth Five Year Affordable Housing Plan, Accepting the Challenge. Key recommendations from CRN's analysis include the following:

    • Report the pipeline of projects slated to receive Tax Credit gap assistance and the Department's selection process. Multifamily projects approved this quarter received assistance through the Recovery Act's Tax Credit Assistance and Exchange programs.
    • Improve reporting on the progress of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Acquisition strategies, low-income targeting, developers and lenders involved in each acquisition, and the pipeline of requests and denials should be included.
    Highlights from the Department's report include:
    • Commitment of over $48 million to assist over 1,600 multifamily units, $25 million for 346 homeownership units, and $4.6 million to preserve and improve 521 units. This represents 84 percent of unit goals and 77 percent of dollar commitment goals
    • Launch of new Homebuyer Assistance Program
    • Details on the City's NSP program implementation and progress. At the hearing, the Department reports that, as of April 1, 2010: >
      • Over 1,300 units have been identified for acquisition
      • Over 1,000 REOs assessed
      • Made offers on over 700 units
      • Acquired 218 units in 69 properties
      • Committed $29 million or 53% of NSP1

    The Department of Community Development's quarterly reports have been a long-standing tool to promote transparency and accountability in city government. CRN has been there since the beginning when organizations rallied around the creation of the first Five Year Affordable Housing Plan in 1993 and a quarterly reporting system. It has grown significantly since then and meaningful policies and resources have been enacted because of this open and public process.

  • Residents Voice Concerns at Public Hearings on Foreclosure Efforts
  • Chicago residents and aldermen were able to voice their concerns, ask questions, and recommendations regarding the City of Chicago foreclosure efforts at two public hearings last month: a public hearing on March 11th hosted by Chairman Ray Suarez and the Committee on Housing and Real Estate; and a joint hearing with the City Housing Committee and State Senator Iris Martinez on March 15th to hear the foreclosure efforts of several financial institutions.

    NSP Hearing

    Many of who testified raised concerns over the long delay in NSP activities coming to their communities and clarity on how the money-$153 million altogether-will make its way to the most devastated areas. Alderman Dixon of the 24th Ward, which covers the North Lawndale community, expressed dismay over the targeting of the funds arguing that the number of properties that have been acquired under NSP thus far in North Lawndale is disproportionately less in relation to the scope of the foreclosure and abandonment problem in the community. Alderman Lyle of the 6th Ward also noted that there has not been any NSP activity in the ward despite its designation as an area of greatest need.

    New HUD Rules aim to increase NSP impact, protect tenants

    HUD's announcement last week of new changes to NSP definitions of "foreclosed" and "abandoned" may expand the pool of eligible properties and addresses the issues raised by residents regarding targeting more properties. More importantly, the new definitions mean that NSP can be used on homes that are still occupied. The new terms expands the definition of "foreclosed" to include the following conditions:

    • At least 60 days delinquent on its mortgage OR the owner is 90 days or more delinquent on tax payments OR
    • Under state or local law, foreclosure proceedings have been initiated or completed; OR
    • Foreclosure proceedings have been completed and the title has been transferred to a servicer or intermediary that is not an NSP grantee, subrecepient, developer, or end user.

    The definition of "abandoned" has also been expanded to include homes where no mortgage or tax payments have been made by the property owner for at least 90 days, or is it has been determined that the property is uninhabitable and no corrective action has been done within 90 days of owner notification.

    NSP to be reported at quarterly hearings

    Alderman Ray Suarez, Chair of the Housing and Real Estate Committee, reassured the public that progress of NSP will be reported at the Department's quarterly housing reports and hearings. (See above CRN's Report on 4th Quarter 2009 hearing held on April 8th.) These are public hearings held four times a year and in which anyone can present testimony.

    Financial institutions face City, State and residents at Public Hearing

    At the March 15th joint hearing, financial institutions were called to answer questions from City and State officials as well as community residents on their foreclosure efforts. Those who testified included housing counselors and residents facing foreclosures, who also got the chance to speak directly to the very lenders and servicers with whom they are having the most difficulty.

    Several recommendations were raised at the public hearing including overhauling the loss mitigation process. Housing counselors, like Kristen Komara of The Resurrection Project recommended designating a qualified contact person who will be the main point of contact for housing counselors and establishing a monthly check-in system via phone calls to provide updates on the status of each case.

  • New CRN Reports
  • CRN's foreclosure reports, A Picture of Chicago Foreclosures, tracks foreclosure activity throughout Chicago. Download the latest Report: February 2010

    Aslo available is a Community Snapshot featuring areas around the Woodlawn, Washington Park, Chatham, South Deering, and South Shore communities.

    Download these and past reports by visiting http://www.chicagorehab.org/Foreclosurereports.aspx

  • Other Reports
  • The DePaul University Institute for Housing Studies has released a new working paper on the state of the multifamily housing market in Cook County. The study, Multifamily Housing Market and Value-at-Risk Implications for Multifamily Lending, shows significant price declines during the past three years, a sharp increase in the rate of foreclosures in 2009, and an increasing risk for future rental property mortgage defaults in Cook County.DePaul University Institute of Housing Studies

    Download the full report by visiting http://ihs.depaul.edu

    The Center for Housing Policy has released the 2009 Paycheck to Paycheck data, an interactive online database comparing wages and cost of housing in metropolitan areas throughout the United States.

    In Chicago, the data shows a steep increase in rental housing costs, while median home prices show a significant decline. To see how Chicago's wages and housing costs compare, see our 4th Quarter 2009 Housing Report or visit the Paycheck to Paycheck website.

  • Cook County Mediation Program and Funding Opportunity
  • In November, Cook County Commissioners approved a $3.5 million allocation to fund the Cook COunty Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program to assist homeowners who have received a foreclosure summons from the Court.

    Under the program, all residential foreclosures filed on or after April 12, 2010 must file a revised mortgage foreclosure summons, that will include notification about the new mortgage foreclosure mediation program. After filing, a conference between the lender and homeowner will be scheduled in order to determine if there are workable solutions before a foreclosure suit. The Mediation Program gives all troubled homeowners access to counseling and possible legal representation and face time with the lender.

    Funding opportunity

    Because the program would require a large scale effort to bring HUD certified counselors and outreach to eligible homeowners, the Chicago Community Trust is seeking proposals from nonprofit organizations interested in providing community-based, face-to-face outreach to homeowners eligible for the Cook County Foreclosure Mediation Program. Applicants must be a qualified 501(c)(3), as defined by the Internal Revenue Service Code, or have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that will serve as the fiscal agent for the grant, and must serve residents of Cook County, Illinois.

    Applications are due by 5:00 pm (Central), Friday, April 30, 2010.

    Learn more about this opportunity and apply for funding.

  • Weatherization
  • The Department of Energy has issued new guidance on the weatherization program for multi-unit buildings:

    • Notice 10-15 streamlines the application procedures for multifamily owners.
    • Notice 10-15A relates to accrual of benefits of weatherization for low-income tenants of rental housing where the tenants do not pay directly for energy costs.

    If you have not yet applied for weatherization, contact your Illinois housing weatherization provider. Find providers in your area.

  • 2010 Community Development and Empowerment Series
  • A few spots are still available for upcoming Empowerment Series workshops:

    • Sources of Development Financing, May 20-21
    • Single Family Housing Development, June 17-18
    • Multifamily Housing Development, July 15-16
    • Project and Construction Management, August 12-13
    • Property/Asset Management/Tenant Services, September 16-17
    Contact Gené Moreno at gene@chicagorehab.org to register or for more information. Visit http://www.chicagorehab.org/capacity/empowerment.htm to learn more about the Series.

    Please let us know of your interest in other training or technical assistance needs.

    The 2010 Community Development and Empowerment Series is presented by Harris Bank.

  • Network NewsMakers
  • Congratulations to Angela Hurlock, executive director of Claretian Associates and CRN Board member, for winning Chicago Magazine's 2010 Green Awards. We commend her work in furthering sustainable and green affordable housing in South Chicago.

    Bethel New Life is celebrating 30 years with an anniversary gala on April 22, 2010. Visit www.bethelnewlife.org for more information on these events.

    Access Living is celebrating 30 years as Chicago's disability rights organization with an anniversary gala on June 7th, 2010. Visit Access Living for more information.

    Deborah's Place is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2010. Their anniversary celebration will be held on June 17th, 2010. Visit their website for more information.

    The Resurrection Project is accepting applications for Casa Maravilla Senior Housing. Visit The Resurrection Project to learn more.

    Photo via Chicago Magazine: Angela Hurlock, executive director of Claretian Associates and CRN Board member.

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