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

In this issue

LCDC 25th Anniversary Celebration! Save the Date!

20 Years Later: Still 'Home Sweet Home' for Logan Square Women

Add a Little "Green" to Your Next Construction Project!

Save the Date!

Eleazar Vazquez of The Resurrection Project Talks Mission, New Student Housing Project 'La Casa,' and What Lies Ahead for Pilsen

Despite Rental Challenges, HUD Assistance falls "Flat"

Cook County Moves Forward in Creating Nation's Largest Land Bank

CRN Kicks off the 2012 Community Development and Empowerment Series

City's Quarterly Report on Housing Production

Logan Square Neighborhood Association: 50 Years and the Heroes that Made it Possible

The New Generation of LSNA Heroes

Chicago: One Big Foreclosure Crisis Without a Solution

Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!

Follow us on Facebook!


LCDC 25th Anniversary Celebration! Save the Date!

Take Action! Sign the Proposal to Fund the National Housing Trust Fund!

Congress returns from recess on September 10, so August is a crucial month to support the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) through reform of the mortgage interest deduction (MID).

Under the proposal, the number of homeowners who get a tax break from paying mortgage interest would be expanded from 42.8 million to 60.1 million. In addition, homeowners with incomes above $150,000 who currently claim the MID (only 14 percent of homeowners with mortgages) will see an average tax increase of 2.5 percent or less.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, if Congress cannot reach a balanced budget solution, there will potentially be a "loss of 185,000 vouchers and 145,000 people who will remain homeless instead of housed in FY13."

To sign the proposal and be a part of the change we need in housing, go here. For more information about the proposal, visit National Low Income Housing Coalition's website at nlihc.org

Creative. Inspiring. Value-based. Empowering. --- All words which describe the continuing legacy of community development over the last 40 years. The efforts you'll read about below exemplify place-based solutions that work. Enjoy, Kevin

  • 20 Years Later: Still 'Home Sweet Home' for Logan Square Women
  • LSNA women

    Grandmother, mother, and daughter sit before me. 20 years ago, through a program that is no longer funded, they were able to buy a home together. We are gathered in the living room of that same home this afternoon.

    Easily over 50 dolls cram the room as we talk. Barbies never opened, Hispanic dolls with silky black hair, yarn women with red and pink mouths. These dolls belong to Ursula Del Valle and she has collected them and cared for them much in the same way that she has cared for her family.

    "I never thought it was going to happen in my life," Ursula says when asked what it has been like to share a home with her daughter and granddaughter.

    "We are in a family, you know. We share for everything. I feel safety. And if something happened to them, I be here for them. And if something happened to us, they be here for me and my husband."

    With hair just as curly as it was in a picture taken after the family first moved into their two-flat, Bianca De La Rosa talks about what it was like growing up in her Logan Square home.

    As a little girl, Bianca said she would sometimes take care of her younger cousin. And, for the two of them, the space between the two-flat became a gateway to another world.

    "We used to use those stairs as kind of like a portal to the adventure land. So we would hide in the stairs and then we would hide under the table. We wouldn't be able to do that in an apartment that was one level."

    Bianca, now 22, is a student in the Grow Your Own Teacher program, a program that she discovered through the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, where her mother has worked for 24 years. Bianca says her dream is to one day have a home of her own.

    "Hopefully one with two bathrooms," she says laughing. "And water that's not connected because every time we use the water here it's like, a battle."

    She pauses, looking more serious.

    "I think it's a shame that a lot of people are not going to achieve that dream," she says. "They settle for apartments, condos, stuff like that. The whole idea of the nuclear family is changing a little, but I think deep down everybody wants some place to call their own."

    The two-flat the family lives in today was bought through a Logan Square Neighborhood Association initiative that received funding through the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The Trust Fund loaned them money to cover the down payment and closing costs of their home at zero percent interest.

    Rosita De La Rosa, now 53, says she was in disbelief when she became a homeowner at just 33.

    "I thought to become a homeowner, you had to be born rich or you had to wait until you were 50 to become a homeowner, and that's not always true."

    The women have kept their home these 20 years. They celebrated birthdays and Christmas Eve and were able to host their extended family at Thanksgivings. They fixed kitchens and remodeled the garage. But, Rosita says, there are still so many in Chicago whose homes have been foreclosed upon, and whose dream of homeownership was not realized as hers was.

    "I can't help but think about these issues," she says. "It's in my nature, my blood. It affects my neighbors, people I know. A close friend of mine recently lost his two flat. Just to hear that broke my heart."

    "Because I know what it took for him to get that," she says.

    Color photos by Brent Lewis

    Click here to watch a photo slideshow of Ursula, Rosita and Bianca.

  • Add a Little "Green" to Your Next Construction Project!
  • Green Building Construction Guys Working

    Have a "green" project to tackle? Need help maintaining a green building that already exists? The Michael Barlow Center at St. Leonard's Ministries has the right labor force for you. Since 2005, the Center has trained and empowered previously incarcerated men with the social and labor skills necessary to succeed in society.

    Students at the Center learn the basics of green building construction and maintenance, including energy efficient approaches to deconstruction, framing, plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation strategies, and basic safety techniques.

    The Michael Barlow Center is looking for both employment opportunities or internship experiences for its recent graduates. If your business is interested in either of these, please contact Lynne Cunningham, the Center's director, at 312.226.6270, extension 11. Or visit the Center's website at slministries.org/mbc-about/.

  • Save the Date!
  • The Preservation Compact will be collaborating with HUD and the Chicago Rehab Network to host a cooperative forum on September 27 for co-op stakeholders.

    Be sure to keep checking our website for more updates as the date approaches!

  • Eleazar Vazquez of The Resurrection Project Talks Mission, New Student Housing Project 'La Casa,' and What Lies Ahead for Pilsen
  • Eleazar Photo (TRP)

    Why were you guys originally founded? What was the need in the neighborhood at that time? -At that time, there were a lot of problems in the neighborhood. People were moving out, there was disinvestment. Lot of vacant lots that were full of garbage, lot of drug dealing going on in the neighborhood. So it was formed really to address a lot of those issues. It was the churches that got together to do that.

    Through The Resurrection Project, what kind of progress has been made in the neighborhood? -In terms of what we were able to do, there were over a hundred new homes that we built and that's led to other investment in the neighborhood.

    Mission and Vision. The same as it was in the 90s? -The Mission's been the same. There has been more investment in the community, but there's still a lot of households with low income. There are still gangs in the neighborhood. Not as active as it used to be, but they're still there. As much as other things have improved, there's still a need for a lot of the same things within the community. I don't think we're done with Pilsen or any of the other neighborhoods that we work in.

    Where did the inspiration for La Casa come from? - We've been finding that students have trouble at home. A lot of parents don't want their kids to go away to college, but studying at home becomes difficult. So this is kind of an alternative to being away on campus. They're away in an environment where they can study, they can focus on their education, but at the same time, are close enough to home.

    What's next? What are some projects looking ahead? -We have an NSP2 (Neighborhood Stabilization) program in Back of the Yards. So we're expanding our work there. We're taking foreclosed homes, rehabbing them, and about half of them are going to be sold and the other half will be rented. So we'll have about 45 apartments for rent and about 15 single family and two unit homes for sale.

    How has a partnership with CRN benefited TRP? -Getting our staff educated and further developing their skills. And just as collaboration. Being able to do more than we could on our own in terms of advocating for the different needs in community development.

    TRP Movie Still

    Take a tour of La Casa with Eleazar Vazquez! Click here to watch the video!

  • Despite Rental Challenges, HUD Assistance falls "Flat"
  • Renters' Tax Credit

    Did you know that nearly 3/4's of all severely cost-burdened renters are extremely low-income? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently proposed a tax credit that would level the playing field for renters. At a forum on August 2, Barbara Sard, vice president of housing policy at CBPP, said that a significant portion of federal housing spending benefits higher income households--those making $100,000 or more.

    Gerald Hunter, the president and executive director of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, said he was impressed with the proposal's flexibility, but worried about the cost of implementing the Credit.

    "Probably the biggest challenge that I see is focusing on the administrative part of the issue," he said. "The proposal doesn't really spell out a way to cover administrative fees."

    Will Fischer, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the administrative costs should not be an issue for larger rentals. It's the smaller rentals he's more concerned about.

    "Kind of a challenge in this is finding a way to reach smaller landlords who may have less willingness to deal with the administrative burdens of dealing with the credit," Fischer said. "[They] are also going to be less likely to have income tax liability that they can consistently claim a credit against."

    A PDF of the report for the proposal can be found here.

  • Cook County Moves Forward in Creating Nation's Largest Land Bank
  • Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Bridget Gainer resolved to sponsor an advisory committee as the first move to establishing a Cook County Land Bank.

    According the the most recent census data, 199,778 housing units are empty, emphasizing the effect of the foreclosure crisis.

    Gainer says that it's crucial to utilize resources in order to provide for a flourishing future in these housing developments.

    The next move is for Preckwinkle to appoint stakeholders and industry experts to the aforementioned Advisory Board within 60 days of July 24, when the information was released. Click here to read the full proposal by 10th District Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer.

  • CRN Kicks off the 2012 Community Development and Empowerment Series
  • Eleazar Vazquez shows the Community Building workshop attendees what The Resurrection Project has in store for undergrad college students. This is a model of what one of the dorms will look like in their brand new student housing development, La Casa.

    There's still time to join the Empowerment Series! Visit CRN's website here or call 312.663.3936 to get more information on being a part of this amazing training.

    The Community Building group stands outside of La Casa--a housing development that will serve as a place for college students to study and, for many, live away from home for the first time.

    Join the Empowerment Series! Visit CRN's website here or call 312.663.3936 to get more information on being a part of this amazing training.

    Pat Abrams of the Renaissance Collaborative takes the group to the rooftop garden of a new senior living facility in Bronzeville. Here, residents can enjoy the garden among their peers.

    Hop on the Empowerment Series band wagon! Visit CRN's website here or call 312.663.3936 to get more information on being a part of this amazing training.

  • City's Quarterly Report on Housing Production
  • A meeting will be held on September 13 at 10 a.m. in the Chicago City Hall chambers regarding affordable housing.

    The 2012 Second Quarter Progress Report, spanning from April to June, has been released by the City of Chicago. This report covers the Department of Housing and Economic Development's progress on the stated goals in the City's Affordable Housing Plan, which covers 2009-2013.

    The meeting will elaborate on what is still being done to keep affordable housing alive.

  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association: 50 Years and the Heroes that Made it Possible
  • Reverend Frank Showers came to Chicago to study at the Lutheran School of Theology in Hyde Park. He came to Logan Square in 1980 to serve as pastor of St. Luke's Church. At first, most of his church membership was made up of white families who had moved to the suburbs but were still coming to worship in the neighborhood. "I was doing funerals for those people out in the suburbs," he says. He soon learned that his church was also really involved in church-based organizing (mainly around housing issues) being led by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

    He recalls the horrible conditions of the Logan Vista apartments and how church groups really tried to make the landlord accountable for improving the living conditions of the tenants through the courts system.

    "Through the church-based community organizing out of LSNA we organized them to go to the Chicago Housing Authority because the owner had sold it to the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation. We were able to bring them all together and it was a really a neat description of church-based organizing with a lot of pastors and churches involved."

    (To read more of this hero story, visit LSNA's website here.)

    Interviewee Deborah McCoy gave some information about the work she does in the community, and what she does on her free time. She has been connected with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association for more than 30 years. She also helps the community in a lot of different ways. On her free time she loves to take pictures and also likes to cook. Lastly she loves to travel. Deborah McCoy has helped the community, and she is one of the many heroes in our community.

    First, she helps the community in a lot of different ways. She has raised money for the neighborhood for the youth and drug prevention program and to help young kids in the community. She was successful with building programs for young children. She also has worked with different types of people in the community to fight for justice, so that there would be no discrimination in the community. She has also fought to be able to build houses for people with low incomes because she said everyone should be able to have a good home. She has also knocked on a lot of people's doors to help her fight for stuff for the community. One of the ways she has helped the community is the work she's done with LSNA.

    To read more of this hero story, visit LSNA's website here.

  • The New Generation of LSNA Heroes
  • Several of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association hero profiles were produced by the high school students from Kelvyn Park High School pictured here. They may not have 50 years experience, but their portraits of those who came before them makes these students young heroes in waiting. Here is an introduction to these young community leaders:

    Maurice Colter: This past school year Maurice has really shown his commitment and passion for social justice, working with LSNA and leading workshops for teachers on improving discipline policies, and student and teacher relationships. Maurice would like to be a physical therapist and says that "sleep" is his favorite pastime.

    Gerardo Molina: "I learned that there are people who actually care about the community," says Gerardo reflecting on the project. This past year he was also a part of the Metro Communities Project where KPHS students along with students from Evanston Township and New Trier met over the school year to explore issues around education equity.

    Angela Casas: Angela says that the Community Heroes Project informed her about all that is happening around the neighborhood and all the people who work for justice. She is an amazing peace leader at Kelvyn Park HS, leading peace circles, involved in the school's peer jury, and facilitating workshops on conflict resolution and stopping the school to prison pipeline through improved discipline policies.

    Roxy Maya: "I need to make things happen. I am more about action," says Roxy. She has big plans for her future. "With support of the Obama Administration's new policy regarding Dream Students, I plan to study to be a doctor and then return to Mexico to build a clinic for low-income people who do not have money to pay for their treatments and medicine."

    Kareli Rea: Reflecting on the project, Kareli says, "there's a lot of people out there making changes in our community, and I didn't know about them. Even though they are not famous, their stories are important."

    (Photo graphic by Ardit Dizdari)

  • Chicago: One Big Foreclosure Crisis Without a Solution
  • Community organizations demanded a one-year moratorium on foreclosures and evictions at Cook County on August 9, according to The Chicago Reporter.

    New data from the Woodstock Institute indicates that--from the first half of 2011 to the first half of 2012--completed foreclosure auctions more than doubled in the six county region of Chicago. Neighborhoods hurt hardest in the city of Chicago include South Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, West Ridge, and Austin.

    Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who attended the meeting, said she came to listen to the organizations' requests, but would not commit outright to the moratorium, the Reporter stated in an August 14 article.

    (Click here for an interactive graphic that shows foreclosure rates per neighborhood over the last four years)

  • Keep up with housing and community development news with CRN!
  • Keep informed of housing events and news by subscribing to our news feed.

  • Follow us on Facebook!
  • Keep up to speed with CRN news and updates on Facebook.

  • 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

    Kevin Jackson kevin@chicagorehab.org
    Chicago Rehab Network http://www.chicagorehab.org