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New funding for housing on South, West sides

by Meg White

New funding for housing on South, West sides

Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announce a new housing initiative.

Citing housing insecurities caused and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today that 40 banks have committed to lending $330 million toward the acquisition and renovation of 7,000 affordable housing units on Chicago’s South and West sides over the next five years.

The participating banks are all either existing or newly-signed-on partners of the Community Investment Corporation, which is certified by the federal government as a Community Development Financial Institution. At a press conference announcing the new initiative, Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said CIC helps build local wealth because they work with landlords and borrowers who might not have strong ties with financial institutions.

“They lend in areas where others may not lend,” she said. “They get unsubsidized, but still affordable, units for families who need them, because we the city cannot reach the need with public dollars alone.”

Lightfoot emphasized the outsized role that the local property management sector can have in revitalizing the city during tough financial times.

“In many neighborhoods, owners of apartment buildings are among the strongest and most stable local businesses. … That’s who we need to be supporting,” Lightfoot said at today’s event. “We need that partnership with all of you in order to fully meet this crisis head-on. And that means connecting up with the small business owners who own the bulk of our affordable housing rental units, supporting the entrepreneurs who invest their own time and money in their own communities.”

The mayor spoke in front of a rental building that was financed by CIC and is owned and operated by Anthony Oliver, who has around 150 affordable rental units on Chicago’s South and West sides in his portfolio, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

“I’m a practitioner, and basically what we’re talking about is putting all this money to work,” Oliver said at the press conference. “The intersections between business and community are people. … [If we can] grow people with business as we grow, the net return is sustainable communities.”

The funding is expected to impact up to 400 buildings in areas targeted by the mayor’s INVEST South/West initiative. When it was announced last October, the program appeared to be focused mostly on commercial corridors and local businesses, though housing did get a brief nod as well. 

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