In Fall 2017, we launched Viviendo Unidos, a new rental program. This program matches tenants with landlords and incentivizes both through a rent-rebate program. We also provide on-one-one financial coaching for tenants, and monthly landlord education workshops. We educate both renters and landlords on their rights and provide resources available to distressed individuals including sample leases, a copy of the “Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance,” and information regarding the Tenants at Foreclosure Act.
• Completed UIC Housing Study on Belmont Cragin, 2016
• Completed block club beautification project with six local block clubs (we may want to take pictures of this-please remind me and I can tell you about it in person after vacation).
• Working on creating a TIF-NIP program to help keep rents affordable and work with landlords
HAPPENING NOW /COMMUNITY UPDATE
• Foreclosure Prevention Success Rate: In 2016, 290 families completed foreclosure prevention counseling, of them, 88 percent saved their home from foreclosure. We also helped 76 prospective home-buyers purchase their first home in 2016, an increase of 49% from 2015.
• Rent Stabilization and Property Tax Reform Town Hall: In October 2017, our Housing Organizer, Ernie Lukasik, convened over 60 residents for a town hall discussing the current affordable housing crisis and system of unfair property tax assessments burdening renters and homeowners in our community. Legal experts, elected officials, affordable housing activists, and concerned residents gave presentations and offered testimonials on the state of housing unaffordability. This event allowed our neighborhood’s residents to hold our agency
Progress Report Q4
• Project to create 100 Mixed-Income Apartments: Our efforts to advocate for affordable housing in our community came full-circle in early 2017. Alex NItkin of DnaInfo reports, “A 100-unit mixed income apartment complex would be built in downtown Jefferson Park under a plan revealed Thursday by Ald. John Arena (45th). The plan … calls for a seven-story L-shaped building in place of the former FSP food distributor at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. Of the 100 units, 80 will be offered at rents below market rate, including 20 reserved for Chicago Housing Authority voucher-holders.”
• Foreclosure prevention success highlighted on WGN-TV: Three of our clients, Carmen, Sandy, and Olimpia, share their stories—the highs and lows—of saving their homes from foreclosure. Find the video story here.
Modest, relatively inexpensive housing has long been the bedrock of our community. at community asset and the character of our neighborhood are in jeopardy.
Belmont Cragin’s small single-family homes and two-to-four flats have attracted working class families for generations. About 80 percent of our housing stock falls into those two categories, as compared to 53 percent citywide. But the cost of a home in Belmont Cragin is now higher than the city median. Our vision is to establish sufficient stable housing so homeowners and renters of all income levels have options for affordable homes to raise their families and stay and get to know their neighbors.
Belmont Cragin’s population growth is putting pressure on the housing market.
In 2000, the housing vacancy rate in Belmont Cragin was a mere 3.5 percent. In 2014, it had risen to a still-low 8.6 percent, in part due to foreclosures and barriers for moderate or low-income families to qualify for a mortgage. At the same time, there is little vacant land in Belmont Cragin—developers built on the existing open properties decades ago and nearly all those buildings remain. Only 3.6 percent of the neighborhood’s housing units were built from 2000 – 2013, less than half of the citywide average.
As the housing market has gotten hot in nearby areas like Logan Square and West Town/East Humboldt Park, Belmont Cragin has been seen as a relatively inexpensive option for both middle-income households looking to rent or buy a home and low-income households facing rising rents in their existing home. The increased demand from both these sectors, however, is meeting a relatively restricted housing supply in Belmont Cragin, and the stress is starting to show.
Most low-income residents pay more than they can afford in housing costs.
As both rent and the cost to buy a home have been rising in Belmont Cragin, fewer residents can find housing they can readily afford. Many former single- family homes have been illegally converted into multi-unit rental properties, which often provide substandard housing and compromise the quality of the property. Belmont Cragin also has relatively little subsidized affordable housing, with just three properties, all senior housing buildings.
In fact, a majority of low-income households in our community face severe cost burden, de ned as paying more than half of household income toward rent or mortgage payments. In total, nearly 5,000 low-income households, about 23 percent of all households in Belmont Cragin, have severe cost burden. As Severe Housing Cost Burden homes become more expensive, property taxes rise as well, adding another financial cost to low- and moderate-income families in the community.
Median Home Value Graph
The foreclosure epidemic has crested, but the damage remains.
Belmont Cragin was hit hard by the housing market collapse and the foreclosure crisis. By 2009, the foreclosure rate in our community peaked at 67.4 filings per 1,000 mortgageable properties, a rate 64 percent higher than Little Village and 83 percent higher than Logan Square, two Chicago neighborhoods with similar immigrant and Latino demographics to Belmont Cragin. Foreclosure filings have decreased, but are still occurring at a far higher rate than other neighborhoods in Chicago—still 50 percent higher than Logan Square and more than twice as high as Little Village. Vacant properties and homeowners in nancial distress impact entire blocks, and the new mortgage landscape, with much stricter requirements, limits opportunity for homeownership for working-class families.
Many homeowners weathered the foreclosure crisis with help from local agencies, but others lost their homes. Meanwhile, rents are increasing as residents priced out of the rising housing market in neighborhoods like Logan Square and East Humboldt Park are moving to Belmont Cragin.
Strategies and Projects / Affordable Housing Goals
We will maintain and expand resources for homeowners, make homeownership more affordable and accessible, ensure quality rental housing, and develop affordable housing in Belmont Cragin.
Want to get involved to continue advancing the mission of our QLP? Contact our Housing Organizer, Ernie Lukasik (), to join our Homeowners’ Committee, and contact our Director of Community Development, Julio Rodriguez (), to stay updated on monthly housing meetings.