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South suburban employers gather for Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative convening

This post also appeared in the South Suburban News.

The story was featured in Chicago Magazine's Deal Estate and in the Southtown Star.

See photos of this event on MPC's flickr page.

More than 60 south suburban employers and local officials gathered today for a Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative convening in Olympia Fields, to discuss ways local employers can contribute to stable homeownership and redevelopment in the south suburbs.

Since 2007, MPC has partnered with the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative to engage employers across metropolitan Chicago in collaborating with local communities to develop housing solutions for local workers. “Charter One knows how valuable homeownership is to families and communities, and we are proud to support this important initiative in conjunction with our own homeownership program that has provided assistance to Chicago-area employees since 2004,” said Scott C. Swanson, president, Charter One, Illinois. Swanson added that Charter One’s employer-assisted housing program has helped 24 employees in the south suburbs and 196 employees across the regions purchase homes.

At today’s event, Swanson, the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative, MPC and our partners celebrated another success: CVS Caremark, the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States, took the opportunity to announce the expansion of its employee homeownership program, Prescriptions for Homeownership, to the south suburbs.

“Now is the time, as we can see some positive signs of recovery, to expand on the good work already happening in the south suburbs,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett, applauding CVS and Charter One’s commitment to workforce housing.

That “good work” also includes the South Suburban Housing and Economic Development Collaborative, a cooperative effort among some 21 towns to target approximately $9 million in foreclosure recovery funding provided through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. South Cook County suburbs experienced more foreclosure filings in 2008 and 2009 than any other sub-region in the six-county metropolitan Chicago area. Through the Collaborative and NSP funding, as well as additional funding provided by the public and private sources, the group is working to “create housing that makes a difference, that’s tied to jobs and transit,” according to Janice Morrissy, who manages the Collaborative.

At the event, the group discussed ways employers can get involved. One idea, modeled by CVS Caremark, is for employers to invest in employer-assisted housing programs tailored to support housing redevelopment taking place in the south suburbs. By helping their workers afford homes near work and/or near transit, employers not only can win the loyalty of their workers and improve company morale, but also support local housing market recovery and economic development in the south suburbs. In addition, by partnering with local housing experts Diversity, Inc., and Spanish Coalition for Housing to provide homeownership counseling to potential homebuyers, these employers can help prepare their employees to be stable homeowners in the communities they serve.

MarySue Barrett thanked the employers for coming out and asked them to consider taking her “one-plus-one” challenge: to think of one partnership they could develop that would make a difference. “Half the battle is getting the right people together to work on solutions,” she said.

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For 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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