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Cook County rewards communities with more than $12M for taking collaborative approach to foreclosure recovery

Communities in south and west Cook County are working across borders to maximize investments and leverage additional state, federal resources

(Chicago) … The Cook County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday awarded a total of $12,068,039 in foreclosure recovery funding to two groups of communities in south and west Cook County, recognizing that these municipalities will make the most of these investments as a result of their trailblazing efforts to work across municipal borders on comprehensive, sustainable redevelopment plans.

"The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is designed to revitalize some of our poorest areas – so that towns and villages get needed resources to stabilize neighborhoods that have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis," said Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. "The housing crisis knows no boundaries, and we designed our approach to reflect this reality. In suburban Cook County, we are committed to help neighboring communities collaborate so that  all of us – Cook County's Planning Department, our suburban communities, the nonprofit groups that are working with our municipalities and HUD itself – can leverage limited dollars in partnership across borders and get assistance where it's needed most."

The South Suburban Housing Collaborative – which consists of the communities of Blue Island, Calumet City, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Dolton, East Hazel Crest, Ford Heights, Glenwood, Harvey, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Lansing, Lynwood, Matteson, Midlothian, Oak Forest, Olympia Fields, Park Forest, Phoenix, Posen, Richton Park, Riverdale, Robbins, Sauk Village, South Chicago Heights, South Holland, Steger, and Thornton – received $9,000,950.  This initial funding will support projects in 11 communities.

The West Cook County Housing Collaborative – which consists of Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview, Forest Park, Maywood, and Oak Park – received $3,067,089.

The funding is a portion of the $28,156,321 the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded to Cook County through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, created by HUD to assist communities that have been or are likely to be affected by foreclosed and abandoned properties. The majority of this $12,068,039 will help stabilize both regions by allowing for the acquisition and rehab of more than 100 homes and the demolition of additional blighted properties. The County directed $125,689 of the total awards to the south and west Cook collaboratives, plus an additional $75,000 to agencies that provide pre-purchase homeownership counseling for new homebuyers.

The South Suburban Housing Collaborative, spearheaded by the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, is working to leverage additional funding from local, state and federal agencies and programs to support its comprehensive redevelopment plan, which would create or preserve some 474 energy-efficient homes along the Calumet River as well as existing and proposed south suburban transit lines; and demolish and/or land bank for future development an additional 200 sites.

The overall redevelopment plan of the West Cook County Housing Collaborative, led by IFF, would acquire, rehabilitate and sell 100 foreclosed single-family units; rehabilitate and rent 32 multi-family units; and rehabilitate and rent 12 vacant multi-family units. The communities plan to target redevelopment near large employers and transportation options.

"Foreclosures occur within municipal borders, but their impacts on housing and labor markets do not,” said Beth Dever, housing director, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. “Through these partnerships, the south and west collaboratives are more efficiently addressing an issue that affects all of them and the entire metropolitan Chicago region. They’re also saving money by pooling resources – particularly important at a time when budget constraints are affecting everyone.”

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) have been providing technical assistance to support the collaborative efforts in south and west Cook County.

“The amount of foreclosure recovery funding available to these communities pales in comparison with the scale of the problem. Collaborating allows these communities to achieve economies of scale through bulk acquisition of foreclosed properties and create a ‘one-stop shopping’ approach for developers, banks, employers and families seeking housing,” said Robin Snyderman, MPC vice president of housing and community development. “Perhaps most importantly, they’re working together to leverage additional funding to do truly sustainable, energy-efficient redevelopment near transit and jobs, all of which will only add to the affordability of those homes in the long run.”

Snyderman added that the Obama administration has held up these collaborative efforts as excellent models for sustainable redevelopment in America’s inner suburbs. When top White House Cabinet officials visited Chicago in September, MPC provided them with the paper Advancing Livability Principles: Federal Investment Reform Lessons from the Chicago Experience, which cited this collaborative work.

The collaboratives’ groundbreaking approach has earned the support of a wide range of nonprofit organizations, foundations, and companies across the region. In addition to the technical assistance provided by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and MPC, the collaboratives have received funding from The Chicago Community Trust, Grand Victoria Foundation, and The Field Foundation of Illinois.  Additional partners of the South Suburban Housing Collaborative include the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association; Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation, which is helping the group with real estate acquisition, disposition, and compliance issues; DLA Piper, which is providing pro-bono legal assistance; Diversity, Inc., which is coordinating housing counseling, outreach to potential homebuyers and tenants, and fair housing compliance; and Spanish Coalition for Housing, Regional Fair Housing Center, South Suburban Housing Center, and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which are providing housing counseling. The West Cook County Housing Collaborative is working with the Oak Park Regional Housing Center and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago to identify and prepare qualified homebuyers and renters. 

For more information, contact Mandy Burrell Booth, MPC assistant communications director, at 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org.

Additional resources:

To learn more about the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, visit http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/communitydevelopment/programs/neighborhoodspg/.

Contact Ed Paesel, Executive Director, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, at 708-922-4670 or paesel@ssmma.org. Learn more about the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association at www.ssmma.org.

Contact Janice Morrissy, Director of Housing Initiatives, South Suburban Housing Collaborative, at 708-922-4672 or janice.morrissy@ssmma.org.

Contact Liz Reyes, Senior Project Manager, IFF, for information on the West Cook County Housing Collaborative, at 312-596-5106 or lreyes@iff.org

Contact Beth Dever, Housing Director, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, at 312-201-4507 or beth.dever@mayorscaucus.org

Contact Robin Snyderman, Vice President of Housing and Community Development, Metropolitan Planning Council, at 312-863-6007 or rsnyderman@metroplanning.org

To learn more about the benefits of community collaboration, visit www.metroplanning.org/ij.

Read a case study of the South Suburban Housing Collaborative produced by the Brookings Institution. 

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