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Sweet Home Chicago

CCH is managing partner of Sweet Home Chicago, an affordable housing campaign led by nine community organizations and a labor union. The Sweet Home Chicago Coalition proposed and drafted key amendments to 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 dedicates $35 million ($7 million a year) toward rental housing redevelopment via TIF Purchase Rehab.

Sweet Home Chicago is made up of Action NOW, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Bickerdike Redevelopment, CCH, Community Renewal Society, 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 (SWOP).

Sweet Home Chicago also works with the Cook County Board on development of the new Cook County Land Bank, seeking to restore some of the 55,000 vacant and foreclosed properties countywide. Our coalition advocates for the restoration of housing. Since 2013, CCH Policy Director Julie Dworkin serves on the land bank’s Board of Directors.

In 2014, CCH is among several Sweet Home Chicago partners working in the new Chicago For All coalition, led by ONE Northside. We are fighting to stop the rapid loss of low-cost single-room occupancy (SRO) housing in Chicago. In May 2014, we secured a six-month moratorium on SRO conversions pending a new ordinance to stem the losses and create alternatives. More than 2,200 low-cost SROs have been lost in three years, with 6,000 units in 60 buildings deemed at risk for high-end redevelopment.

Also in 2014, several Sweet Home Chicago partners, including CCH, are working to enact tougher amendments to Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). Currently, developers that get TIF funding or zoning changes must pay a $100,000 fee per unit if they fail to set aside 10% – 20% of affordable units for low-wage households. CCH Associate Policy Director Eithne McMenamin and representatives from ONE Northside and Bickerdike were named in July to a city task force that will recommend ways to add 1,000 new housing units within five years.

CCH also joined several Sweet Home partners in 2013 to enact Keep Chicago Renting. Led by Albany Park Neighborhood Council, we worked two years to pass a city ordinance that allows tenants to pay rent and stay housed after a lender has foreclosed on a building owner. Effective in September 2013, lenders that move to evict rent-paying tenants are required to pay each household $10,600 for relocation costs.

More about Sweet Home Chicago’s TIF Purchase Rehab Ordinance:

In designated TIF districts, developers of multi-unit rental housing can apply for TIF funds covering 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 Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development (DHED) on the designation of TIF districts. In 2013, the first $1 million in funding was awarded to restore 35 apartments in two buildings located in the Ogden/Pulaski TIF district. Three more districts, all for $1 million, were designated by spring 2014.

In July 2012, the Chicago City Council OK’d key amendments to the TIF Building ordinance that the Sweet Home Coalition helped write. To avoid tenant displacement, the ordinance no longer requires a building be vacant. The amended ordinance also 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.

Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) was lead sponsor of the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance.

For more information, contact Associate Policy Director Eithne McMenamin at (312) 641-4140 or