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Illinois Building Blocks program to fight foreclosures and vacancies in targeted communities

Collaborative approach will more effectively address foreclosure and vacant home crises, while saving taxpayer money and strengthening communities

(Chicago) … The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) commends Gov. Patrick Quinn and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), in partnership with Cook County, for the new Illinois Building Blocks pilot program. Focusing on six communities within the south and west portions of our region that are strategically tackling the most distressed housing markets in Illinois, this program packages a variety of new and existing resources, including the state’s Hardest Hit program and a new revolving loan pool. The result is a comprehensive and replicable strategy, led by the State of Illinois, to assist both individual households and policymakers in preventing foreclosures, as well as rehabbing vacant and abandoned buildings and providing assistance for the buyers of vacant homes.

For more than two years, MPC, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning have assisted several clusters of neighboring communities in metropolitan Chicago – including the West Cook County Housing Collaborative, of which Maywood and Berwyn are members, and the Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative, of which Park Forest, Riverdale and South Holland are members – as they work together to achieve the greatest local impact with limited foreclosure recovery funding. With leadership and support from the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and IFF, respectively, the communities in the South and West Cook collaboratives are undertaking a subregional redevelopment strategy focused on homes near transit and job corridors.

“The Illinois Building Blocks pilot program is investing in neighboring communities within established Housing Collaboratives to align housing, land-use and transportation policies. This represents tremendous progress on key priorities we were pleased to see championed in the state’s 2012 Comprehensive Housing Plan and by so many of MPC’s closest partners,” said MPC Vice President of Community Development Robin Snyderman. “This collaborative approach ensures that communities are more effectively addressing issues such as the foreclosure and vacant buildings crises, which are massive in scale and cut across community borders. With the Illinois Building Blocks pilot program, Gov. Quinn, IHDA and Cook County are recognizing that this collaborative approach is saving taxpayers money, making regionally significant investments, and attracting private investment – and that these communities and their residents should be rewarded with additional support,” Snyderman said.

Together, the Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative and West Cook County Housing Collaborative have attracted approximately $30 million in competitive housing resources since establishing their multi-town efforts in 2009. In addition to federal and county dollars, this includes State CDBG Disaster Recovery (“IKE”) resources for redevelopment, through the Ill. Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, as well as IHDA support for Homes for a Changing Region, a technical assistance initiative that helps these Housing Collaboratives and individual communities plan for the types of housing they will need to serve their current and future residents.

To learn more, contact MPC Vice President of Community Development Robin Snyderman at 312.863.6007 or rsnyderman@metroplanning.org. Additional resources:

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Since 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been dedicated to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, MPC serves communities and residents by developing, promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth.

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