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Sweet Home Chicago

CCH is managing partner of Sweet Home Chicago, an affordable housing campaign led by 10 community organizations and one labor union. The Sweet Home Chicago Coalition drafted a key amendment to the city’s 2011 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 $7 million a year toward rental housing redevelopment via the TIF Purchase Rehab.

In 2014, the 11 members of Sweet Home Chicago are Action NOW, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, CCH, Community Renewal Society/Protestants for the Common Good, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), Logan Square Neighborhood Association, 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 the development of a Cook County land bank that would restore vacant and foreclosed properties countywide. Two representatives from Sweet Home, CCH Policy Director Julie Dworkin and SWOP Executive Director Jeff Bartow worked on the land bank advisory committee during fall 2012. Julie now serves on the Land Bank Board of Directors.

CCH also joined several Sweet Home partners to enact Keep Chicago Renting. Led by the 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 September 2013, lenders that move to evict rent-paying tenants are required to pay each household $10,600 for relocation costs.

More about the TIF Vacant Building 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. Four 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