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A Call for Action in Support of “A Place to Live” - Update by Polyana Wolf

Posted on April 13, 2010

Lakeside CDC and Northside P.O.W.E.R. have teamed up with local landlords, renters and affordable housing advocates to call for the establishment of a rental improvement fund (RIF) in the 49th Ward.

The 49th Ward RIF will improve the quality of life for all Rogers Park residents. This fund will go a long way toward addressing the current situation - namely that much of the available rental housing stock in Rogers Park is aged and in need of rehabilitation, while creating a dedicated source of future revenue for continued housing stabilization and improvement.

Rogers Park was the 4th hardest hit and West Rogers Park was the hardest hit among Chicago community areas in terms of foreclosure increases between 2008 and 2009.  Lakeside CDC and Northside P.O.W.E.R. are also advocates for Cook County’s Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. 

Both of these new solutions need public support.Plan to attend the community meeting.

Date: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Time: 3 to 4 p.m.
Location: Rogers Park Presbyterian Church
          7059 N. Greenview Ave.

This Sunday, stand up and be counted!
If you are one of the many people in Rogers Park who are concerned about the loss of affordable housing in our community, come and join with your neighbors in support of the 49th Ward Rental Improvement Fund. It is a comprehensive and innovative campaign to preserve hundreds of the rental apartments maintained by the small “mom and pop” landlords in our neighborhood. Organized by Northside P.O.W.E.R. and Lakeside CDC, the program will rally around the fund and stepping a county wide camapign to prevent mortgage forclosures and hold banks accountable.
The RIF will be a model of TIF reform.  TIFs, Tax Increment Financing is the best tool communities have to generate funds to address local concerns. They have been widely attacked for draining money from the budget, wasting tax dollars on unnecessary projects and woefully failing to address the most urgent and neglected need to preserve quality affordable housing in our neighborhoods. It’s a tool we have that hasn’t been used effectively and even been misused. It’s time for communities to define our own priorities and make this tool work to taxpayer’s advantage.
The reformed TIF would allow the community, if stable, to keep a projected average of 2.75% of it’s propety taxes to devote locally. The TIF that has everybody’s hair on fire was garnering upwards of 30% of it’s property taxes where the tax base was ten times the size of our community. Measures are needed to moderate the amount a TIF can hold back from general revenues without hindering communities with average growth from the ability to benefit from TIF financing at a sustainable level. This model is very affordable.
The 49th ward RIF will bring local control in a transparent process overseen by a community board and administered by a competent and credible entity located in the ward.
This will include outreach and assistance with the application process to make sure the funds are accesible to all of our landlords. It will include recapture aggreements to ensure that funds are used for stated purposes and that rents are maintained at the level of affordability outlined in the aggreements. The fund will have a “use it or lose it” provision to ensure that no funds are diverted from affordable housing into slush funds.
The grant amounts are directly tied to the level of affordability a landlord is willing to maintain for the apartments. This is the best value we can get for money invested in housing. Other programs have been criticized for the high price tag, the inflated cost of units that receive TIF funds and the high cost of subsidizing entire rents continuously for unaffordable apartments.
This RIF will preserve affordable apartments where we have the bulk of our affordable housing, with the mom and pop landlords that are invested in Rogers Park. It will provide the grants for repairs to the buildings, improving safety, bringing buildings up to code and lowering operating costs by “greening” the buildings with things like new roofs and windows and furnaces. As much as 63% of smaller rental properties are threatened by the credit crunch and lack of access to funds to make building improvements. Then, even if traditional financing can be secured from the banks, the landlord needs to raise rents to cover the costs of repairs and improvements and interest payments. 
With this program, investing money in building improvements for the units we already have, we can preserve hundreds of units, improve the quality of the units and maintain the level of affordability for all of us living here.
The best time you can spend standing up for affordable housing is the one hour we will converge to show our support for the 49th ward Rental Improvement Fund.  You need to be there Sunday, at the Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, on the corner or Greenleaf and Greenview fifteen minutes before three in the afternoon.  The hour long program will host elected representatives, leaders from community organizations, clergy and your neighbors in support of two initiatives titled A Place to Live.  We are also working on a county wide campaign to slow the wave of mortgage forclosures flooding our communities. The banks need to be held accountable for the bust, the bailout and to the families they want to put on the street. They are going to fund outreach and prevention of forclosures right here, right now.
Now we have to stand up, all of us and be counted. Landlords and renters together, residents and representatives, together, community organizations and congregations together and show our numbers. it’s not going to get done and get done quicky if we don’t show our collective will to do it. If you can’t be there Sunday because you are working to pay your bills, ask for that hour off in support of our community or send somebody in your place. If you are spending time with family and friends, bring your family and friends. We need every single person that signed our sheets to be there in the flesh and bring as many as you can with you.
It’s going to be the most powerful convergence of our community around our housing and something positive to come together for side by side and group by group.
See you Sunday!
A Place to Live, Sunday April 18th, 2010, 3pm - 4pm
Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, corner of Greenleaf and Greenview in Rogers park

For more information call Lakeside CDC at
1.773.381.5253
or Northside P.O.W.E.R. at
1.773.262.7872

 

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