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Interjurisdictional housing efforts gain momentum in south and west suburban Cook County

Last fall, as part of the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative (HOPI), convened by the Chicago Community Trust, Federal Reserve Bank, and NHS, representatives from various communities took part in initial discussions about how communities in suburban Cook County could work together to address foreclosure challenges.  Janice Morrissy and Tammie Grossman, representing the villages of Riverdale and Oak Park, respectively, were among those encouraging interjurisdictional strategies in their hard-hit areas of Cook County.  As Regional HOPI was concluding, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which would provide funding to deal with foreclosed and vacant properties – suddenly making the talk of collaboration a very real possibility.

In the months since the September 2008 announcement of NSP, two interjurisdictional housing collaboratives – one in south suburban Cook County and one in west suburban Cook County – have been meeting regularly to develop joint applications for NSP funding.  “Our interjurisdictional effort has an initial goal of developing an efficient and targeted approach to using NSP funds,” said Riverdale’s Morrissy, “but the broader aim is to put a structure in place for our communities to work together on a variety of housing issues that do not necessarily stop at our municipal borders.”

The NSP application process is just getting underway.  The State of Illinois officially launched its program last week, and released its Request for Proposal (RFP) for NSP funding; Cook County will do the same shortly.  Interjurisdictional efforts were specifically highlighted in the state’s announcement of its RFP.  "Through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, HUD will try to support not just localized efforts, but regional and other innovative efforts, like we are seeing in Chicago and other places that are bringing municipalities together to attack the problem of foreclosed homes and their devastating impact on communities," said HUD deputy regional director Beverly Bishop.

As the south and western suburban interjurisdictional groups dive into this work, they face two major challenges.  First, they need to determine ways to work efficiently across borders on the many tasks required to deal successfully with foreclosed properties – from property acquisition, to maintenance and rehab, to creating financing mechanisms and finding good buyers or renters.  Second, they must decide as a group where to target these limited federal dollars to maximize the impact of the funding.  Success in this effort will position these areas to be competitive for future rounds of NSP funding.  

Recognizing both the challenge and promise of this type of interjurisdictional effort, the south suburban and west suburban housing collaboratives are each looking to hire a coordinator to guide their efforts.  Both clusters have just started the recruitment process and will be accepting applications until early April (links to each RFP can be found below).  Tammie Grossman, of Oak Park, summed it up well:  “Our hope is that by hiring a single coordinator, we will create efficiencies not only for ourselves, but also for the state, the county, and developers interested in advancing our goals.”

If you would like more information about MPC’s interjurisdictional housing efforts, please contact Dominic Tocci at dtocci@metroplanning.org or (312) 863-6046.

View the South Suburban Housing Collaborative’s RFP for the coordinator position.

View the Near West Housing Collaborative’s RFP for the coordinator position.

Learn about MPC’s latest efforts to support communities taking an interjurisdictional approach to solving their housing challenges.

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