News from the Chicago Rehab Network
35 years of Community Empowerment and Development without Displacement April 2012

In this issue

Mayor Emanuel's "Building a New Chicago" Infrastructure Trust

Stories from Applicants to Bickerdike and LSNA's Zapata Apartments

CRN's Top Ten List from the 2011 City Housing Hearing

Project Rebuild

CRN Winter Membership Meeting

WBEZ stories highlight the difficulties in revitalizing neighborhoods

CHA's Idea Forum for The Plan for Transformation, 2.0

Network Events

Foreclosure Task Force: REO to Rental

Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation Seeks Housing Development Director

Enterprise Community Partners Grant Opportunity for Sustainable and Green Affordable Housing Projects

Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!

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Mayor Emanuel's "Building a New Chicago" Infrastructure Trust

At yesterday's city council meeting, Mayor Emanuel's plan for a $7.2 billion infrastructure trust to revitalize Chicago was deferred and published in a surprising move after passing the finance committee at a vote of 11 to 7. CRN believes that this is a smart move for effective public policy and supports the administration and council for creating more time to consider the scope of the trust.

In his speech announcing the trust at the end of last month, Mayor Emanuel highlighted several key improvements including improving the Chicago riverfront, completing the Bloomingdale Trail, replacing 900 miles of sewer pipe and connecting McCormick place to downtown by building another CTA stop (among other CTA improvements). Mayor Emmanuel highlighted throughout that these infrastructure improvements would have a myriad of benefits, including job creation, a number which he put at 30,000 and that the funds would be achieved without stressing the existing tax base, meaning mostly revenue from private sources. You can watch the whole speech here or read the remarks here.

Here at the Chicago Rehab Network, we are pleased to hear echoes of our similarly titled Policy Platform released in May of last year in the Mayor's announcements. The Building Our Future Chicago platform and the accompanying toolkit lay out a solution-focused plan that centers on a development approach that engages the real estate market to build sustainable communities. Given the synchronicity, we thought it would be good to revisit the values outlined in the Platform.

In order to build our future Chicago, we stress the need for an intentional focus on 1) long-term value-added stewardship of household success through housing and community development 2) resident involvement and community-driven partnerships and 3) local training, hiring and resource circulation.

With that in mind, we continue to advocate that leadership is needed to repair the consequences of ignoring the centrality of affordability in our city -from revenue loss, household stress, overcrowding, increased school mobility, homelessness, to foreclosure, and abandonment-we must discontinue random and political discretionary land use policies. Our recommendations are based on long-standing results achieved by working to strengthen local markets through housing development, fueling improved quality of life for community residents. The field of community development and its attention to sustainable and place-based real estate applications is poised to offer its commitment and expertise, especially as we embark on a plan to build our future, new Chicago together.

For more information, you can read: CRN's Building Our Future Chicago Platform or The Ordinance Establishing the Infrastructure Trust or this Sun Times Editorial.

  • Stories from Applicants to Bickerdike and LSNA's Zapata Apartments
  • Waitlist Photo Collage

    Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation opened the waiting list and distributed applications for the Zapata Apartments, a series of four newly constructed buildings located in Logan Square with 61 units total. The list opened on Friday, April 13 and applications were distributed from 9AM-8PM on both Friday and Saturday.

    On Friday, morning when CRN staff visited the site, the line to receive an application was a block long. Staff and volunteers from Bickerdike as well as the Logan Square Neighborhood association were on hand to distribute information and answer questions to those in line. By the end of the weekend, over 1,339 applications had been distributed to individuals seeking affordable housing. CRN staffer Erin Potter reports.

    I spent the morning talking with people waiting in line, looking to get a sense of who was in line looking for a more affordable place to live. Naturally, everyone had a different story, but I was struck that the prevailing attitude was one of hope-that this apartment would be the opportunity they needed.

    Chamekie is looking forward to living in a place of her own after spending a few years taking care of her mother after an illness. She proudly identifies as a mother and found out about the waitlist through her sister-in-law, who lives in a Bickerdike apartment. She is standing in line with her two children, Khloe and Alesha, who both have bright eyes and strong smiles, like their mother. She tells me she's "just praying" and that she is excited about the opportunity to move back to the Northside because she loves the atmosphere and meeting people from all walks of life.

    Early in the line, I meet Connie, whose boss at Walgreens let her come in a bit late so she could start the wait list lottery process. She is a mother of three, recently separated from her husband, and is well-spoken as she talks about the difficulty of finding a place to live that is both good for her boys and within her means. She states that while she doesn't get paid a lot, it's steady and she likes the work and the community it provides. She is excited to talk to me about her boys, the music they play and about their schooling. An apartment in any of the Zapata properties would bring her younger two closer to school, closer to where her mother lives and closer to the North Avenue Armory, where her oldest son will be stationed next year as he serves in the National Guard.

    A bit further back in line, I chat with a man and a woman who are laughing good-naturedly. When I introduce myself, I'm greeted with a warm, "Tell me what's good, Erin" which just makes me smile. Veronica and Greg don't know each other; they just started talking in line, discussing the information about Zapata that they know and have read on the information distributed by volunteers and staff. Veronica studies social work at Harold Washington College and heard about the wait list from a colleague whereas Greg was simply passing by on his way downtown and inquired about the purpose of the line. Both of them share stories of tough times for work and income, Veronica looking for something within her field of study and Greg being frustrated with the income gap his two seasonal jobs always seem to leave him with. While she knows she can't get an apartment without an income, Veronica is positive and notes that "this is an opportunity to make things better. And you can't ever be too prepared."

    Just behind them are two confident young women, friends Tange and Quiana. Tange works as a daycare instructor and Quinoa works at a hotel as switchboard operator and both women have children they are raising as well. In a demonstration of the power of word of mouth, Tange found out about the wait list from Quiana, who heard about it from her cousin. Tange says, "She called me up, and said, I need a bigger place and I know you need a bigger place. Let's go see what it's about." Tange recounts how she, her son (14) and her daughter (5) live in a studio in a cooperative building. She is on a waiting list for a bigger place, but seems uncertain of her odds of getting a larger unit. Looking over the Zapata unit rents, she points to the three bedroom rent of $837.00 and then looks at her friend, "With what I make, I could actually afford that." As Tange is talking about this, Quiana mentions that she pays more than that for a two bedroom, by about forty bucks. When I ask if that makes a big difference, she laughs, it would make a huge difference.

    The number of people that came out continues to demonstrate the striking need for the work of local community development corporations--and that need is real, despite the opposition. After a six year struggle to bring more affordable housing to a neighborhood that needs it, it was truly rewarding to see Bickerdike and LSNA staff and volunteers assisting all of the working families that came out on Friday and Saturday morning to receive applications to fulfill a dream long out of reach.

  • CRN's Top Ten List from the 2011 City Housing Hearing
  • On March 7, 2012, the Committee on Housing and Real Estate held its 2011 Quarterly Report hearing on the progress of the current Five Year Affordable Housing Plan. Below is our "Top Ten List" from our analysis and the committee meeting.

    1. Lawrence Grisham was welcomed as the new Managing Deputy Commissioner.
    2. World Business Chicago calls on the city to "develop and deploy neighborhood assets to align with regional economic growth that nurtures neighborhoods" specifically in reference to the release of Emanuel's A Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs.
    3. This reinforces what we called for in our policy platform under "Deploy Expertise and Target Assets" where we stress the importance of harnessing local talent, knowledge experience and sound investments that have a multiplier effect locally.
    4. We testify that positive growth cannot be achieved without proper support to CDC and their expertise.
    5. As in the 3rd quarter, all four Multifamily awards are developments led by nonprofit CDCs. Of the total units, there are 98 units of family housing with three or more bedrooms.
    6. Downtown Density Bonus results in largest DHED "in lieu of " payment of $2.9 million. We called for a review to see if others payments are warranted because of rental development downtown.
    7. We called for a return to prioritizing rental housing as "one in four working families spends more than HALF of its income on housing " and affordability worsened significantly for working owners and renters between 2008 and 2010" (NHC)
    8. We reviewed the White House budget changes, including a 7.6% decrease from FY2012 HUD enacted budget with an increase for counseling, public housing operating, 202s and National Housing Trust fund is seeded at $1B.
    9. KEY FINDINGS of REPORT: Resource commitment for year end is $137 million short of total anticipated expenditure. 1. TIF allocation ($16mm ) only 49% of goal as are city land write downs and city fee waivers (@ 52%) 2. TBI (troubled building initiative) accounts for 1289 MF units served, representing 172% of the initial goal. second largest total for the year next to LIHTF 3. NSP at $169 million is a huge enterprise and to date has sold or leased 21 units - Chicago needs a retention strategy that keeps housing occupied.

    Download CRN's analysis of the Fourth Quarter Housing Progress Report.

  • Project Rebuild
  • Project Rebuild would be essentially "NSP4" and could bring over $340 million to Illinois' communities. CRN proposes that, if passed, Illinois conduct a thorough review of past performance on all NSP programs in order to identify the best program models for reaching maximum success with this new pool of funds.

    For more information, click here for Senator Durbin's press release on Project Rebuild.

  • CRN Winter Membership Meeting
  • WinterMemMeeting2012

    Once again, we wanted to thank all of our members who were able to come to the Membership Meeting on February 23rd. Special guest Managing Deputy Commissioner Lawrence Grisham joined us for an enlightening conversation and took questions from members. One of the items that he shared with us was about the most recent round of tax credit awards, where 42 applications were selected out of the 72 received. He said that these projects represent four to five years of work for the department. Of the applications selected, there are 22 multifamily projects, 11 senior and 9 supportive housing projects; 22 are located on the south side, 12 on the west side and 8 on the north side. Click here to see all the developments selected for tax credit awards.

  • WBEZ stories highlight the difficulties in revitalizing neighborhoods
  • In a three-part series, WBEZ's Ashley Gross tracks the $169 million that Chicago received through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the story that goes with it.

    Parts One and Two, released on Monday, discussed the city's initial trial-and-error experiments with targeting specific blocks with large concentrations of foreclosures and the difficult process of attempting to buy and then sell the newly rehabbed homes. Part One highlights how difficult that process has been while Part Two covers the strategy shit to mufti-family rental.

    CRN Executive Director Kevin Jackson is featured, welcoming the City's focus on affordable rental housing as a great strategy to re-balance the housing stock that quickly lost track of the reality of people's incomes in the housing boom. On the program, he notes that, "We did not have a match with the supply of housing being created and the incomes that actually existed in Chicago."

    Part Three was released on Wednesday, and showcases the work of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago in preventing owner-occupied foreclosures in the nine "micro-markets" by any means, including door-to-door services.

    The features are nice snapshots of the foreclosure crisis and do a good job distilling the complexity of the situation as well as the steps being taken by the City and the community development field to stabilize neighborhoods.

  • CHA's Idea Forum for The Plan for Transformation, 2.0
  • The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) has been the latest city service to launch an interactive website seeking community input and direction. The site is http://thecha.ideascale.com and the topic at hand is the Plan for Transformation, the CHA's plan to redevelop or rehabilitate every public housing property with an eye towards eliminating pockets of poverty while also seeking, "to build and strengthen communities by integrating public housing and its leaseholders into the larger social, economic and physical fabric of Chicago."

    The Plan is now in its twelfth year, and is continuing to evolve under new leadership, both within the CHA and the city at large. The drive to rethink the new plan has been dubbed "2.0" by new CHA CEO Charles Woodyard. Since much of the rehab and redevelopment work has begun, the CHA is now seeking input about "lessons learned as well as input to help shape the next phase of the plan." The website is the online presence of an outreach campaign that also included input sessions at UIC, IIT, South Shore Cultural Center and Lane Tech High School. These meetings occurred in February, and the website went live in March.

    The site has 270 users interacting with each other and commenting on nearly 80 user-submitted ideas. You can browse the site without a username, but to participate you must register which allows you to submit your own ideas, vote to "agree" or "disagree" with the ideas of others and also write comments.

    The site's most" popular" ideas (those that receive the most "I Agree" votes) are topic threads discussing the preservation of Lathrop Homes, zero tolerance policies for residents and criminal activity and creating stricter time limits on CHA leaseholders. The discussions range from well-thought out and civil idea exchanges to poorly written versions of personal philosophies but it all makes for interesting reading and gives a broad perspective lens to a Plan that has had a huge impact on the built city landscape.

    There is still time to lend your voice to some of the conversation, so head on over to the CHA's interactive site to pitch your next big idea for Chicago's neighborhoods.

  • Network Events
  • Borinquen Bella Wall Breaking Ceremony Friday, April 20th 10:00am - 12:00pm Corner of Washtenaw Ave. & Hirsch St. (1400 N. Wastenaw Ave.) LUCHA invites you to our wall breaking ceremony celebrating the rehabilitation of Borinquen Bella Apartments. Join us as we break walls and open paths to neighborhood redevelopment! Light breakfast and refreshments will be served. Please RSVP at www.borinquenbella.qrickets.com or call 773-276-5338

    CRN's Property Tax Brown Bag Thursday, April 26th at 12:00pm, CRN Office, 53 W Jacskon. CRN members are invited to discuss the impact of property taxes on your rental housing and hear from the Mandel Clinic about a possible abatement strategy. Please bring your last five years of expenses. RSVP to Rachel@chicagorehab.org

    CNT's first "Place Matters" Lecture Wednesday, May 2nd 5:15pm - 7:00pm Sidney Austin LLP, 1 S Dearborn St. CNT's Transportation and Community Development Director Maria Choca Urban will provide an overview of "Prospering in Place" and its findings and proposals. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Oak Park Mayor David pope will also speak to related issues. RSVP is required for attendance and should be directed to Kyle Smith at kyle@cnt.org or by calling 773.269.4036.

    Woodstock Institute's Annual Community Investment Reception Thursday, May 10th 4:00pm - 7:00pm Instituto Cervantes of Chicago, 31 W. Ohio Street Woodstock Institute and its board of directors are pleased to invite you to the 2012 Community Investment Awards Reception and screening of David Sington's documentary The Flaw, a documentary about how excessive income inequality in society leads to economic instability. The reception will also honor the accomplishments of community stakeholders that exemplify what it means to work locally with a national impact on financial security and community prosperity issues.

    Spring Into New Life Friday, May 18th 6:00pm - 9:00pm Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N Central Park Avenue Bethel New Life invites you to a festive evening to support their growing work to increase opportunity in the communities they serve. More information at: www.bethelnewlife.org or call Sara at (773) 473-7870 x 146.

    130th Anniversary Luncheon Tuesday, May 8th 11:30am-2:00pm Palmer House Hilton, Grand Ballroom, 17 E Monroe Street The Community Renewal Society happily invites you to their 130th Anniversary Luncheon, where they will honor the work of their retiring Executive Director, Rev. Calvin S. Morris, PhD and all that he has done for racial and economic justice, both in Chicago and around the country. Register at www.communityrenewalsociety.org/130thluncheon

  • Foreclosure Task Force: REO to Rental
  • The National Housing Conference's Foreclosure Task Force, steered by NHC, Enterprise, LISC and NeighborWorks, released their response letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency expressing concerns about neighborhood stabilization related to the newest plan to clear REO inventory held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Any organization interested in joining the task force or interested in signing onto the letter should contact Sarah Jawaid at sjawaid@nhc.org.

  • Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation Seeks Housing Development Director
  • Position Summary: The Housing Development Director plans, directs and controls the operations and supervision of the Housing Development department, including the Technical Assistance - Community (TACOM), Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS) and CHDO programs. In all instances the Housing Development Director must perform in accordance with and be committed to the Bickerdike mission. A complete job posting can be viewed at: http://www.bickerdike.org/docs/Position%20Descrip%20Housing%20%20Development%20Director%20ltrhd.pdf

  • Enterprise Community Partners Grant Opportunity for Sustainable and Green Affordable Housing Projects
  • Enterprise will make approximately 7 - 10 grants ranging from $10,000 - $50,000 to support sustainable affordable housing and community development projects that strive to improve the livability of communities and increase opportunities for low-income residents. You can view the RFP and overview of key concepts they are looking to support here:

    Responses to the RFP are due by 5:00 pm CST on Friday, May 11, 2012. Please follow guidelines and complete all information as requested. Questions can be directed to Andy Geer at ageer@enterprisecommunity.org

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