Preserving Affordability on Chicago’s North Side

In today’s Chicago Sun Times, Mark Brown takes note of an emerging victory for preserving affordable housing on Chicago’s north side. 

Last fall, it looked like three affordable senior properties with 111 units were about to be lost – and elderly residents displaced – when Presbyterian Homes announced plans to sell to market-rate developers. The Preservation Compact worked closely with a number of partners to convince the owner that an affordable proposal could work, and identified resources to preserve the affordable housing.

ONE Northside and Jane Addams Senior Caucus organized tenants and generated public support for preserving the housing. Key political support was provided by U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, Alderman Tom Tunney, Alderman James Cappelman, Alderman Debra Silverstein, State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Community Investment Corporation (CIC) and an array of preservation developers — Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation (CMHDC), Evergreen Real Estate Services, Mercy Housing, and Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) — explored financial approaches for preserving the housing in the three buildings. 

Eventually, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) stepped forward and decided that the most efficient way to preserve this housing was for CHA to buy the buildings directly and add them to their stock of public housing in areas of the city that are otherwise not affordable to low-income residents.

While the deal is not yet sealed — the purchase still needs to be approved by the CHA Board, and an outstanding lawsuit needs to be resolved — it appears to be headed toward a positive resolution. This experience demonstrates the impact that a multifaceted effort of community leaders, elected officials, for-profit and not-for-profit developers, and public agencies can have on preserving affordable housing where it is most needed in Chicago. Click here to read the Mark Brown column.