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

In this issue

Federal Legislative Updates

Preliminary Budget Released; Chicago Faces Over $600 Million Deficit

CRN Membership Meeting Focuses on Sustainability, Property Taxes

Ill-Maintained Lots Ordinance

City Approves $98 million City Financing to Redevelop Former U.S. Steel Site

Governor Quinn signs Donation Tax Credit Extension

Cook County Property Tax Break is Extended

Cook County Foreclosure Mediation

2010 Empowerment Series Workshops

Remembering Tony Austin

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Federal Legislative Updates

Thank you for your calls to your Representatives to oppose significant cuts to funding for critical HUD programs. On July 29, the House passed H.R. 5850, which would provide $46.6 billion for HUD programs, without the damaging amendments. This represents more than $1 billion more than the President's budget request.

The next step is for the Senate to bring forward its FY11 T-HUD bill which passed the Appropriations Committee on July 22. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, the bill will not be completed before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

For a summary of HUD's budget, see: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FY11-Budget-Chart.pdf

Preservation and Tenant Protection Act

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee passed the Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Act [H.R. 4868], a bill that provides protections to at-risk affordable rental housing.

CRN along with housing advocates throughout the country have contributed to the bill over the years, offering recommendations and proposals as a member of the National Preservation Working Group. In the next few months, advocates will be working on another version of the bill to introduce to the Senate.

For more details about the bill, visit the National Housing Trust http://www.nhtinc.org/committee_approves_preservation_legislation.php

Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010

Any more movement on H.R. 5297, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010, will likely happen in the Fall. The bill, which includes $1.065 billion in initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and the extension of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) 9% exchange program, was not able to pass the Senate before the August recess.

Please continue to call your Senators and let them know that affordable housing is needed in your community. Let them know that a $1 billion investment in the NHTF at $100,000 per unit of housing will create 15,100 construction jobs and 3,800 jobs in ongoing operations. The NHTF also supports local economies as low income families can afford to spend more money on goods and services when they are not spending half or more of their income on housing.

Wall Street Reform and Community Reinvestment Act Public Hearings

We commend last month's passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protections Act (H.R. 4173), the most significant overhaul of the financial system in decades. The bill includes a provision to create a separate Consumer Financial Protection Bureau among other financial reforms, but the act also includes important housing provisions such as the extension of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) through the end of 2014 and authorized $1 billion for the neighborhood Stabilization Program.

In the next few months the administration will be selecting a CFPB leadership and staff who will then begin work on establishing new rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the bill. These regulations will be subject to public comment and the input of community and housing advocates will be crucial.

CRA Hearings

A public hearing on the Community Reinvestment Act will take place on August 12th at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) are joint hosts of a series of public hearings to gather public input on how these agencies are evaluating the performance of financial institutions under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

The hearing is an important and timely opportunity not only to build support for CRA modernization but also to let regulators know about the importance of accountability among financial institutions and enforcement of the law, especially in light of the passage of the financial reform bill.

While the registration deadline to present testimony has passed, the Federal Reserve will be accepting written testimony until August 31st. You may submit written testimony online

  • Preliminary Budget Released; Chicago Faces Over $600 Million Deficit
  • The City is projecting a $654 million shortfall in corporate fund revenue in FY 2011, $120 million more than the deficit reported for FY 2010 and the highest yet. The Office of Budget and Management released the estimated $6.3 billion preliminary budget on July 30th with an estimated $3.3 billion in corporate fund expenses.

    According to the Office of Management and Budget, the Corporate Fund has lost $1.15 billion in economically-sensitive tax revenues since the peak in 2007. To help cover the FY 2010 and the FY 2009 budget deficits, the City advanced funds from long-term and mid-term reserves generated from the sale of the city's Parking Meters. The preliminary budget does not include any further drawdowns from reserve funds from the city's privatization deals including the Skyway.

    Because of the precarious budget situation, Budget Director Eugene Munin has stated publicly that tapping into Tax Increment Financing surplus funds is a possibility. Munin estimates the surplus to be $700 million. If a surplus is declared, the revenue would be redistributed to other agencies that were originally entitled to the tax revenues, like the Chicago Public Schools. The City would be slated to receive 20 percent of unallocated TIF revenues, or an estimated $140 million.

    In the preliminary 2011 budget, the Department of Community Development is estimated to receive $29.1 million from the corporate fund, about $2.6 million more than the estimated year-end expenses for 2010. The Department also has additional grants of $87.5 million left in Recovery grants that will carry over from 2010, which includes part of the $98 million awarded to the City in the second round of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

    Stay tuned for 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

    • Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
    • Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive
    • Thursday, August 26, 2010 at North-Grand High School, 4338 W. Wabansia Ave.

    Download the 2011 Preliminary Budget

  • CRN Membership Meeting Focuses on Sustainability, Property Taxes
  • Members of the Chicago Rehab Network gathered at The Resurrection Project's Casa Morelos in July to convene CRN's quarterly membership meeting. We are grateful for our speakers, Anne Evens of Center for Neighborhood Technology; Mike Stone and Gwen Thomas from the Cook County Assessor's Office; and Senator Kwame Raoul, who spoke to our members about energy efficiency, the Urban Weatherization Program, and property tax incentives for multifamily housing.

    What is the status of Class 9?
    The issue of property taxes and the state of the Class 9 and S programs generated much discussion at the membership meeting. Since the mid-1990s, CRN, affordable housing advocates and the Cook County Assessor's Office have been working to eliminate the bias against multifamily properties out of the property tax assessment system. At that time, all multifamily buildings with seven units or more were classified as Class 3 and assessed at twice the level of residential properties. This system was especially burdensome and unfair for affordable housing providers who are classified in the same way but provide much lower rent, and thus earn less rental income than its market-rate counterparts.

    To alleviate this disparity, the Class 9 and Class S programs were introduced and were able to assist in the reduction of tax bills for many affordable apartment owners. But since then, several reforms have been instituted at the Assessor's Office including the phased reduction of Class 3 assessments. Beginning in the year 2011, there will be no difference in the level of assessment between single family and all multifamily buildings and therefore, there may no longer be any meaningful benefits to the Class 9 and Class S incentives.

    According to Deputy Assessor Michael Stone, Class 9 and Class S will not disappear because benefits still exist. For instance, Class 9 buildings are not expected to have same rents and maintain income as Class 3 buildings. However, the Assessor's Office is interested gaining input on ways to improve these incentives for affordable housing providers given the upcoming changes in store.

    The membership meeting provided fertile ground for further discussion of these property tax issues. In the end, Michael Stone concluded that multifamily owners should "apply and appeal" in order to better ease the property tax burden on affordable housing owners. He reassured that Class 9 and Class S are still viable programs but reform is needed. Any input from affordable housing practitioners are welcome. To facilitate a gathering of this information, CRN is planning to hold a separate event dedicated to property tax discussions. Please stay tuned for more information.

  • Ill-Maintained Lots Ordinance
  • The City Council passed a new ordinance that increases the fines imposed on poorly maintained vacant lots. The fines will reach up to $1,500 for the worst violations and triple the fines if the city does the clean-up.

    The ordinance is especially significant as foreclosures increase the prevalence of abandoned and vacant properties, creating blight and nuisance in many communities. The issue over maintenance and ownership of vacant lots were discussed by aldermen last month after an ordinance that would facilitate a quick demolition of bank-owned properties was passed. The city currently has 15,000 vacant parcels.

  • City Approves $98 million City Financing to Redevelop Former U.S. Steel Site
  • The approval of $98 million public financing signifies the first step in the long-awaited redevelopment of the former U.S. Steel site in South Chicago. The project seeks to transform nearly 500 acres of land into a large-scale retail and residential community over the next few decades.

    As the last developable lakefront land in Chicago, the stakes are high for the City but the development will most immediately impact those who live and work in the community of South Chicago. The past, present and future of South Chicago is explored in CRN's most recent Talking To Walls video production, "A New Day." [Watch it here].

  • Governor Quinn signs Donation Tax Credit Extension
  • This week, Governor Quinn signed a bill to extend the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit-or as it is more commonly known, the Donations Tax Credit-through 2016.

    Chicago Rehab Network was instrumental in establishing the tax credit as a key tool for neighborhood development. The Donations Tax Credit has been a valuable resource to finance the creation and preservation of affordable rental housing throughout the State by leveraging private investment. The program provides a 50 percent state income tax credit for donations to non-profit affordable housing sponsors.

  • Cook County Property Tax Break is Extended
  • Also this week, the Governor signed a bill to extend the Expanded Homeownership Exemption which puts a 7 percent cap on property assessments, providing property tax relief for homeowners by slowing the impact of higher assessments. Both programs would have expired this year. For more information on the 7 percent exemption, visit the Cook County Assessor Office website.

  • Cook County Foreclosure Mediation
  • The Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program provides free assistance to Cook County homeowners in foreclosure. The program helps homeowners resolve their mortgage foreclosure cases in the most timely and respectful manner possible.

    Find out more: Cook County Foreclosure Mediation Fact Sheet

  • 2010 Empowerment Series Workshops
  • Register now for CRN's final workshop of the 2010 Empowerment Series, property/Asset management and tenant Services on September 16-17. Download a registration form here.

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

    For more information about the Series, and other training and technical assistance opportunities, visit our Capacity Building page or contact Gené Moreno at gene@chicagorehab.org.

  • Remembering Tony Austin
  • Remembering Tony Austin

    We were saddened to hear last week that our friend and colleague, Tony Austin, was killed in a car accident near his home in Maryland.

    Many of us knew Tony while he lived in Chicago and worked at Interfaith Organizing Project, Bethel New Life, at the Chicago Rehab Network, and in DC at the Center for Community Change and Neighborworks. His strong commitment to bettering low income communities and building the capacity of community-based organizations was only surpassed by his radiating love of life and his love for his wife Rosemary and children - Adam, Angie, Ashley, and Amber. Proud to hail from Oberlin, Ohio, Tony was a role model and unwavering advocate for eliminating barriers to opportunities for families and communities. His positive spirit, good humor, and collaborative nature taught all of us about balancing work, family, and faith as a central tenet of a fulfilled life.

    Family and friends are celebrating his life today August 6th at 6pm at Reid Temple A.M.E. Church in Glenn Dale, Maryland.

  • Network NewsMakers
  • Bickerdike's Rosa Park Apartments profiled as a testament to positive impact of stimulus program. Read more...

    Chase Bank has opened a new Homeownership Assistance Center in Jefferson Park. Anyone seeking assistance with a Chase, WaMu, or EMC mortgage can visit the facility and talk face to face with a loan counselor. Visit any of the Centers below:

    Chase Homeownership Center - North
    5813 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Floor
    Hours: M-Th: 10am -7pm; Fri: 9am-6pm; Sat: 9am-1pm

    Chase Homeownership Center - South
    4730 West 79th Street, Chicago
    Hours: M-Th: 10am -7pm; Fri: 9am-6pm; Sat: 9am-1pm

    Chase Homeownership Center - West
    1836 North Broadway Street, Chicago
    Hours: M-F: 9am -6pm; Sat: 9am-1pm

    Upcoming Events:

    • The LEED Council is holding a series of trainings on Computer Skills and Microsoft Office beginning September 7, 2010. Contact Angelic Phillips, Client Services Coordinator at 773-929-5552 ext. 228 or angelic@leedcouncil.org. Walk-ins ARE NOT accepted so please reserve your space.
    • The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will host an Urban Weatherization Initiative Information Session on August 11, 2010, 9:00 am-11:00 am at St. Paul Church of God in Christ, 4526 S. Wabash. Please RSVP to Elder Kevin Anthony Ford at kford4526@sbcglobal.net or 773-538-5120
    • The Latin United Community Housing Association is hosting a Homebuyers Education Workshop on Saturday, August 14, 2010 from 10:00am - 2:00 pm at the Humboldt Park Residence - SRO, 1152 N. Christiana. To register contact 773-276-5338 x230 or 229

  • Let us know what matters to you!
  • We 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 in providing you with information and where we can do better.

    Help us by completing a Stakeholder Communications Survey from CRN. Your feedback is essential and will help shape our communication priorities and understanding of what housing issues matter to you.

    To complete the survey please go to the link below https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CRNCommunications.

    If you need a hard copy or assistance, please contact us at 312-663-3936.

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  • The Chicago Rehab Network is the oldest and largest coalition of non-profit community developers and practitioners in the Midwest.

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    Chicago Rehab Network http://www.chicagorehab.org

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