Optimism in Five-Year Housing Plan

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development worked with the city and third-party organizations to create three initiatives that will be a part of a larger five-year housing plan.

The first-quarter report mentioned almost $45 million helped support over 3,700 units which “represents 45 percent of the 2014 unit goal and 17 percent of the 2014 resource allocation goal.” This means the city’s resources and money were well spent in the first quarter in multiple housing and lot developments, as well as the development locations.

According to the report, the expected goal is to commit about $210 million to support more than 5,600 units of affordable rental housing. Programs to create and preserve affordable rental units will be funded by the city, such as TIF funds and tax credits, but some sources will come from loans and grants by rehabilitation lenders and non-profit investment firms.

There were three key initiatives prioritized in the five-year housing plan that were important to this first quarter. Two of the initiatives were not city-funded.

“The first is our Large Lot Program,” Managing Deputy Commissioner Lawrence Grisham said. “On March 20, we launched the program in Englewood and Woodlawn, where organizations and homeowners can get lots for a dollar each.”

The application period closed on April 21 with a total of 412 applications for 549 lots.

“The qualified applicants had to own property on the same lot, be up-to-date on property taxes, and have no financial obligations to the city,” Grisham said.

Grisham also mentioned that a resident must own and sustain his or her lot for at least five years.

According to the Chicago Reporter, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program federally funded most rehab areas in 2009, about a year after the housing market crashed. The city collected about $169 million in the last six years, and $140 million went to demolishing and rehabbing homes.

Grisham said that foreclosures and demolitions would not be considered like they were in the previous Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and the lots owned by families or organizations would not be repossessed by the city.

But these initiatives still need a way to buy lots and land without huge losses to communities. The following two initiatives express “a need for greater resources for one- to four-unit buildings.” These buildings will comprise of almost half of all rental units in Chicago.

The Small Apartment Building Rental Redevelopment program is a $26 million loan pool with contributions from 11 private lending institutions and administered by the Community Investment Corporation. This loan pool will provide “financing to rehab and reserved clusters of vacant one- to four-unit buildings as affordable rental housing.”

“Mayor Emanuel and Attorney General Lisa Madigan were on hand to kick off this program in Chicago [and was announced on April 15],” Grisham said.

The loan pool will provide 10-year financing for projects with a minimum of nine units. This pool will focus on areas of “lower to moderate income, where foreclosure is the highest.”

The report also mentioned for the final initiative that the Chicago Community Development Financial Institution collaboration demonstration project would secure a $5 million grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. This collaboration project consists of the Community Investment Corporation, who has partnered with the Chicago Community Loan Fund and the Neighborhood Lending Services.

“As we mentioned in the plan, we cannot do this alone,” Grisham said. “Neither one of those efforts include city funds, but by all of us working together, we help bring these resources to our community.”