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Housing Victories

Rehab Chicago rental housing through TIF

CCH managed Sweet Home Chicago, an affordable housing campaign that proposed Chicago’s TIF Purchase Rehab Ordinance. Now, tax-increment financing (TIF) funds can be made available to redevelop apartment buildings for lower-wage households, improving the city’s stock of rental housing.

In February 2014, after months of advocacy by Sweet Home Chicago, the city adopted a 5-Year Housing Plan that commits $35 million by 2019 toward rental housing redevelopment via TIF Purchase Rehab. Two buildings have been completed, restoring 41 apartments, and a 56-unit building is undergoing rehab for spring 2016 completion. To date, $1 million each has been dedicated in four TIF districts (Chicago/Central Park, Division/Homan, Humboldt Park, and Ogden/Pulaski).

In designated TIF districts, developers of multi-unit rental housing can apply for 30% to 50% of purchase/rehab costs of they rent 30% to 50% of units to households that earn no more than half of Area Median Income ($37,700 for a family of four).  Sweet Home Chicago works with city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development, Community Investment Corporation, and aldermen to select TIF districts with reserve funds that can be designated for rental redevelopment.

The Sweet Home coalition drafted several key amendments to the TIF Building ordinance, enacted by the City Council in mid-2012. That includes allowing a TIF subsidy of more than half the project costs if the redevelopment offers supportive housing and/or housing for extremely low-income households.

Campaign partners were Action NOW, Bickerdike Redevelopment, CCH, Community Renewal Society, Communities United, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), Organization of the NorthEast (ONE Northside), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois/Indiana, and Southwest Organizing Project. Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) was lead sponsor of the ordinance.

Cook County Land Bank

Sweet Home Chicago also advocated on the design of a Cook County Land Bank, pushing the bank to restore housing among 55,000 vacant and foreclosed properties. Since 2013, CCH Policy Director Julie Dworkin serves on the land bank Board of Directors.

Chicago For All SRO housing ordinance

In 2014, CCH was a partner in the Chicago For All coalition, led by ONE Northside. We proposed and negotiated a city ordinance to stop the rapid loss of  single-room occupancy (SRO) housing. Enacted in November 2014, the ordinance seeks to stem the loss of SRO buildings converted to high-end rental housing, mostly on the North Side. More than 2,200 SRO units were lost in three years and another 6,000 units are at-risk – losses that would impact at least that many low-wage people. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown has reported extensively on the human impact of recent SRO closures, touting Chicago For All’s efforts to save “a precious last chance affordable housing option for the poor.”

Affordable Requirements Ordinance

CCH also worked in a six-group coalition that persuaded the Chicago City Council in March 2015 to strengthen its Affordable Requirements Ordinance. The regulations govern what housing developers must do to provide affordable housing on projects that require a zoning change, a planned development designation, use of city land or a city subsidy. Though not in effect for 18 months, it increased the requirements and in-lieu of fees charged to developers that fail to set aside the required number of affordable housing units for low wage households. Mayor Emanuel’s administration predicted the tougher ordinance would generate 1,200 housing units and $90 million in fees, half of which is to be paid to the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund’s rent subsidy program.

Keep Chicago Renting

CCH also partnered with Keep Chicago Renting, led by Albany Park Neighborhood Council (now Communities United). We worked two years to pass a 2013 city ordinance that allows tenants to pay rent and stay housed after a lender has foreclosed on a building owner. Lenders that move to evict rent-paying tenants are required to pay each household $10,600 for relocation costs.

Affordable Housing in the Illinois capital budget

For two years, the CCH housing campaign focused on funding more affordable housing in Illinois. CCH worked with several allies for a capital budget that — for the first time in Illinois — includes money for housing. This was achieved in July 2009, when Gov. Quinn signed a $31 billion capital budget that included $134 million for housing.

CCH mobilized extensive organizing and advocacy: Homeless leaders on the CCH Speakers Bureau held 14 in-district meetings with key legislators, participated in two rallies with a governor, and advocated at seven Springfield lobby days. CCH leaders spoke about the capital budget at 69 venues, mobilizing 3,020 constituent letters and organizing community core teams at schools, churches, and synagogues.

Family Homelessness Prevention Program

In 1999, CCH successfully advocated the creation of an Illinois program to help families experiencing a short-term crisis that might make them homeless. In 14 years, since 2000, this cost-effective “homeless prevention” program helped more than 105,000 households. In 2006, our campaign It Takes a Home to Raise a Child convinced state officials to increase prevention funding from $5 million to $11 million – increasing the number of families helped to 12,000 per year. Two years later, state officials cut funding to $4 million, using federal stimulus grants to offset the state cuts through 2011. For more information, visit the IDHS Homeless Prevention Program.

Rental Housing Support Program

In 2005, Illinois created a Rental Housing Support Program, designed and advocated by our housing campaign, It Takes a Home to Raise a Child. Rent support provides long-term affordable housing for families earning less than $20,000 a year. Rental subsidies are funded by a $10 surcharge on real estate recordings, creating a program that helps 2,400 Illinois families, including those helped through the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund. For more information, visit the IHDA Rental Housing Support Program.