Owners of multifamily properties in the Northwest Cook County recently found a pleasant surprise in their mailboxes: Rather than a dreaded code enforcement notice, tax bill, or any other citation or invoice, they received an unprecedented invitation to discuss the long-term sustainability of their properties with municipal leaders on Nov. 17.
Those who accepted the invitation – about 70 municipal leaders and owners/managers of multifamily buildings, representing more than 4,000 apartments and condominiums – learned about the regional movement to preserve multifamily properties. They also received a copy of the new Multifamily Resource Guide, a list of public and private sector resources for energy assistance, financing, preservation, tenant relations, and more.
Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder and Rolling Meadows Mayor Ken Nelson set the tone for a frank discussion in their invitation, which they extended to northwest suburban multifamily property owners on behalf of Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, MPC, Preservation Compact, and others. They wrote, “We are committed to working to ensure that [your] properties continue to be stable and vibrant community assets for residents and the surrounding neighborhood. Needless to say, we recognize that today’s economy places additional challenges on the shoulders of owners, municipal leaders, and residents.”
Though the economy is picking up, the recession affected both the supply of and demand for housing in metropolitan Chicago. At the event, Allison Clark of the MacArthur Foundation addressed both economic and social trends that have informed the Preservation Compact, a regional strategy to address the loss of affordable rental housing in Cook County. Roberto Requejo of The Chicago Community Trust focused on foreclosure data that sparked the creation of the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative in 2008, the regional response to the foreclosure crisis. Both public and private sector attendees were empowered by the “we’re listening” message from these philanthropic leaders.
The agenda also featured a panel of speakers who discussed resources available to help multifamily property owners maintain stable, vibrant properties. They highlighted several keystone initiatives of the Preservation Compact, as well as the new Suburban Cook County Multifamily Preservation Initiative, a new financing program that encourages the rehabilitation of quality rental homes by creating a “one-stop financing shop” for experienced multifamily owners and developers.
The Multifamily Resource Guide – produced by municipal leaders, Preservation Compact, Chicagoland Apartment Association, and partners including MPC – was well-received by attendees on Nov. 17. In an exit survey, participants underscored the need for a follow-up forum dedicated solely to condominium trends, which anecdotally confirms recent Woodstock Institute data showing concerning spikes in foreclosures among northwest suburban condominiums. Nearly all the respondents checked “energy efficiency” as an area where they’d like follow-up support, and most also checked “mortgage lending,” “financing to reduce rehab, operating costs,” and “property management training.” Many checked “condo owner or association assistance,” and “foreclosure mitigation,” and several also expressed interest in bilingual/bicultural tenant resources.
While there’s more work to be done, the event further validated the expanding regional focus on interjurisdictional solutions, which bring towns together to develop efficient solutions to shared challenges. “My peers and I find it very inefficient to create or even recreate new wheels as we explore how to work with private sector owners and managers to promote the stability and affordability of their apartment buildings and condominiums,” confirmed Arlington Heights Housing Planner Nora Boyer. “I think that local owners appreciate the proposed consistency from town to town. We had similar feedback from area employers, a few years back, when we presenting a unified voice to them as well. We’re all energized by the possibilities of working together.”
We would like to thank Wintrust Financial & it’s member banks Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A. and Village Bank & Trust for sponsoring the convening of multifamily property owners and municipal leaders in the northwest suburbs of Cook County