Chicago Rehab Network to Host Mayoral Candidates Forum

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Community Development and Affordable Housing Key Issues

With about a month to go to Election Day, the race for the next Chicago mayor is heating up. Although their campaign platforms and war chests are as diverse as the candidates, a critical, common issue of concern among voters as they contemplate their picks for the February 24 election is the lack of quality, affordable housing in the City of Chicago.

In fact, given that Chicago is listed among the top cities nationwide with the highest property foreclosure rates and shortages of affordable housing, many residents say the city is evolving into two cities – one for the rich and one for the poor – and a candidate’s lack of a solid neighborhood agenda could cost them votes at the polls.

Mayoral hopefuls will have the opportunity to share their agendas for neighborhood development at the annual membership meeting of the Chicago Rehab Network (CRN) – a coalition of community-based advocates and non-profit developers. The CRN Mayoral Forum will be held on the Westside of Chicago on Thursday, January 29, at First Baptist Congregational Church, 1613 W. Washington, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. It is one of the only forums focusing solely on affordable housing and community development policies.

The honorable Jesús “Chuy” García, honorable Bob Fioretti and Dr. Willie Wilson are confirmed to participate. Incumbent Rahm Emanuel has been invited. The event is a special one-hour component of CRN's annual membership meeting and is convened to inform Chicago's community development/affordable housing leaders of the candidates’ visions and strategies for neighborhood development that will result in balanced growth for all Chicagoans.

“Going forward and looking to 2015, growing and protecting resources for the preservation and development of affordable housing will be of paramount importance,” says CRN Executive Director Kevin Jackson. “Affordable housing is the foundation for equitable growth across the city. As we come together this year to share in the core activities of democratic and civic life, it will be important for anyone representing Chicagoans to be attuned to these housing realities, to care about strengthening neighborhoods, and to lead with strategies for housing for all Chicagoans regardless of income or race.”

According to the Chicago Rehab Network 2013 Affordable Housing Fact Book, 1 out of 4 Chicagoans were cost burdened in the year 1990. That means households that pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. By 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the number of cost-burdened households doubled to 2 out of 4.

Chicago is one of the cities with the highest foreclosure rates nationwide, with 100,000 properties in foreclosure from 2009 to 2012 alone, according to CRN’s 2013 Housing Toolkit. To date, there is no broad effort to re-use vacant homes that is proportional to the enormity of the crisis. Foreclosed and vacant homes not only hurt families, but also wreak havoc on entire communities. Facts like these dramatize the need to create housing stability.

CRN Empowerment Series Training
The mayoral candidates forum is just one of many programs offered by CRN. Continuing its legacy of award-winning training, its Empowerment Series is now open for registration. Instruction is led by some of the most experienced practitioners in the field and covers the fundamentals of housing development and management in a community development context. Students develop or enhance their technical understanding of how to put together and nurture place-based housing strategies.

Classes held during 2014 covered such areas as community building, financing, and proforma development and analysis. Topics and dates for 2015 are: Multifamily Housing Development – February 10 and 11; Project Construction & Management – March 11 and 12; and Property & Asset Management – April 7 and 8. Workshops mostly will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at CRN’s offices at 140 S. Dearborn, Suite 1420, while others will take place in the field. Lunch will be served. Applicants can find more detailed information about each workshop as well as register online at http://www.chicagorehab.org or call 312.663.3936. The Empowerment Series is a driving force behind CRN Legacy 35, the organization’s first-ever campaign to raise $1 million to continue its renowned advocacy, programming and training initiatives.

About the Chicago Rehab Network – For over 35 years, CRN has worked to train, coordinate and empower community-based organizations engaged in developing affordable housing across Chicago and the region. CRN is well known for leading a coalition of over 270 Chicago community development organizations during its Affordable Housing and Community Jobs Campaign, which resulted in the establishment of the first City of Chicago Five-Year Affordable Housing Plan in 1993. CRN’s robust advocacy efforts also have resulted in numerous affordable housing policies and resources, including the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, the Tax Reactivation Program, State of Illinois Housing Trust Fund, various property tax reforms, and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit. For this and more, the Rehab Network received the MacArthur Foundation’s Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, also known as the “genius award” for organizations.

In addition to advocacy and training, CRN provides industry-wide thought leadership through regular policy updates, best practice case studies, and demographic and economic analysis related to housing needs and markets. The Chicago Rehab Network also consults on research issues, community engagement, and organizational and real estate development. For Facebook link, click here. For LinkedIn, click here.

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Adorn Mitchell
AB Mitchell Associates
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