The conference featured four concurrent panel sessions on the following topics:
Preservation strategies in strong markets. Since the market crash, the focus on preserving government-assisted properties has shifted from market risk and opt-outs to deteriorating conditions. As some markets are now growing stronger, this session will assess the effectiveness of existing tools to preserve this housing, and explore whether new or modified tools will be needed.
Kate Walz, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law (Moderator)
Dan Burke, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Cindy Holler, Mercy Housing Lakefront
Anthony Simpkins, Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development
Expanding energy retrofits. Throughout Cook County, modest investments in energy retrofits are keeping rental units affordable by significantly improving energy efficiency and lowering operating costs. In the past 5 years, more than 10,000 units have been retrofitted through the Energy Savers program. This is a remarkable achievement, but it represents a small percentage of the multifamily rental units in Cook County. This session will explore potential incentives and strategies which could be used to get more owners to participate in this program.
John Brauc, CheckMate Realty & Development
Anne Evens, CNT Energy
Sandeep Sood, Nautilus Investments
Jim Wheaton, Community Investment Corporation
Recovering lost rentals in 1-4 unit properties. In many areas hardest hit by foreclosures, small rental properties (1 to 4 units) comprise a substantial portion of the distressed housing stock. Many communities would prefer owner-occupants in these buildings, but owner-occupant demand in tough neighborhoods is limited. Meanwhile, many of these buildings are vacant and deteriorating. With better financing tools, neighborhood and professional investors could help rehab and get this stock into productive use. This session will present tools and strategies to address these challenges.
Nick Brunick, Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen (Moderator)
Allison Milld Clements, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus
Ed Jacob, NHS Chicago
Thurman “Tony” Smith, PNC Bank
Community development to preserve rental housing. The majority of existing affordable housing units are located in the region’s low-income and moderate-income communities. Prior to the recent economic downturn, many of these neighborhoods were stable and showing improvement. Today, these same neighborhoods are suffering grave setbacks due to the recession and the foreclosure crisis. Demand in these neighborhoods is limited, and some existing residents are moving away. Unless these communities are re-stabilized, empty buildings will continue to deteriorate, affordable housing units will be lost, and it will be too costly to replace them. In these weak markets, what are the challenges to neighborhood stabilization and to the preservation of affordable housing? What are the opportunities?
Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago (Moderator)
Bill Eager, Preservation of Affordable Housing
Wesley Walker, Network of Woodlawn
John Groene, NHS Chicago
Chet Jackson, West Humboldt Park Development Council