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Housing Victories

Chicago rehabs rental housing through TIF

CCH is managing partner of Sweet Home Chicago, an affordable housing campaign led by nine community groups and one union. Sweet Home Chicago drafted a key amendment to the TIF Vacant Building Rehab Ordinance, proposed by the retiring Daley Administration. We recommended that the 2011 ordinance include the availability of tax-increment financing (TIF) funds to redevelop vacant apartment buildings so that renter households could be helped.

The amendment lets developers of multi-unit rental housing apply for surplus TIF funds for 30% to 50% of purchase/rehab costs. To meet these requirements, developers must rent 30% to 50% of units to households that earn no more than half of Area Median Income (AMI), or $37,700 for a family of four.  Sweet Home Chicago works with city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHED) and aldermen to select TIF districts with reserve funds that can be designated for rental redevelopment. The first funding became available in 2012 through the Ogden/Pulaski TIF district.

The Sweet Home coalition also helped draft several key amendments to the TIF Building ordinance, enacted by the City Council on July 25, 2012. To avoid tenant displacement, the ordinance no longer requires that a building be vacant. The amended ordinance allows developers to bundle several smaller buildings (two- to four-flats) into a larger development that can be rehabbed for rental housing. Much of the vacant, foreclosed housing stock in Chicago are smaller buildings. This amendment makes the ordinance as flexible as possible for developers to create rental housing with larger and smaller properties.

The new ordinance also allows the housing commissioner’s office, at its discretion and in consultation with local aldermen, to fund projects with a TIF subsidy that is greater than 50% of project cost. Criteria for consideration of the higher subsidy include developments that include supportive housing and/or housing for extremely low-income households.

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 10 years, this cost-effective “homeless prevention” program has helped more than 95,000 households. In 2006, It Takes a Home convinced state officials to increase prevention funding from $5 million to $11 million — increasing the number of families helped to 12,000 per year. But state officials cut its share of this funding by $10 million two years ago, using federal stimulus grants — expiring in late 2011 — to offset state funding.

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 the CCH housing campaign. The program 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 now helps 2,400 families throughout Illinois.

For more information, visit the IHDA Rental Housing Support Program.