Chicago Announces Pilot Program to Develop Vacant Homes
On Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new pilot program to acquire and rehabilitate vacant homes in Chicago neighborhoods that need investment and jobs. The program will create opportunities for local businesses while supporting affordable homeownership.
“This pilot program is a win-win-win. It creates employment opportunities for at-risk youth, supports community stability and turns vacant homes from community burdens into neighborhood strengths,” Emanuel said. “By working with local contractors and developers, the pilot initiative will help support community improvement and homeownership, while driving neighborhood economic development.”
Through the pilot program, the city is investing $2 million in a capital fund for neighborhood contractors, investors and developers to rehab vacant homes in designated communities. Support for the program will come from surplus funds initially designated for the property tax rebate program.
The program will work with community partners to facilitate acquisition of the properties, finance the renovations, and generate employment opportunities for at-risk youth to maintain the homes until they are rehabilitated and sold. The network of partners will ensure the program generates economic opportunities for local contractors, developers and investors. Partners will include the Emerson Collective and Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF).
“Our police officers cannot reduce the gun violence in Chicago on their own,” said Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and managing partner at Emerson Collective. “This initiative will reduce blight while creating jobs that will provide opportunities to make a living and build a future. By working together, we can rebuild homes, rebuild neighborhoods and rebuild lives.”
The pilot project is expected to create about 200 jobs renovating an estimated 50 single-family or two-flat homes in target areas. Additional details will be announced when the program is introduced to the City Council in the coming months.
“Affordable homeownership and jobs are the keys to strengthening a community,” said Calvin Holmes, President of CCLF. “This program will bring together a broad coalition to rebuild homes and neighborhoods.”
The program builds on existing city programs like the Forfeiture Program, which allows the city to file a petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County based on dangerous and hazardous conditions that have not been addressed, and request that the property be forfeited to an eligible third party, such as a non-profit group or new owner that has demonstrated financial means to rehabilitate the property. Nearly 75 buildings that once stood vacant and abandoned are now revitalized and are again part of Chicago’s housing stock.