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Housing News from the Housing Authority of Cook County

Monday, April 06, 2020
Special to
by ousing Authority of Cook County

Local News
For many families, health crisis adds to homelessness risks
By Richard Monocchio and Toni Preckwinkle
Across the country, Americans are being told, "Stay home." As coronavirus sweeps across our country, communities are heeding the advice of epidemiologists and taking drastic steps to curb social interactions to slow the spread. For most, this means working from home, canceling plans, and cooking at home instead of dining out. For millions of families nationwide who struggle with housing insecurity, however, "stay home" represents a directive that would leave them without a home to go to.

In Cook County, we are taking action to help those families, and calling on other local governments to address the housing gap that the federal government is unable, or unwilling, to fill.

According to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, 20.5 million renter households nationwide are considered "cost-burdened," meaning they put at least 30% of their monthly income toward rent; of these, nearly 11 million pay at least half their monthly income in rent. This situation calls for tough decisions to be made on a daily basis -- choices like paying for food and medicine, or rent...
Chicago Housing Authority Announces Temporary Rent Deferral for Public Housing Residents
By Molly Walsh
The Chicago Housing Authority issued a rent deferment for all public housing residents until the end of Illinois' stay-at-home order.

The rent deferral applies to residents of CHA-owned buildings, including senior, family and scattered sites housing. It does not apply to voucher holders who live in privately-owned rental housing.
CHA said it will be reaching out to property owners and landlords in the Housing Choice Voucher program to urge them to work with their tenants during this uncertain time, according to a press release.

“The well-being of CHA residents continues to be our highest priority,” said CHA Acting CEO James L. Bebley. “While today April 1st marks the usual rent payment date, CHA has let residents know that they can defer payments until after the Stay at Home order has been lifted.”
City awards federal tax credits to 11 affordable housing developments
By Jay Koziarz
Eleven new developments bringing a combined 1,083 units of affordable housing to Chicago’s North, South, and West sides are moving forward after being selected by the city to receive Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC).

Officials choose projects based on revised criteria from the Department of Housing, which was re-established as a stand-alone city department by departing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2018. The latest batch of developments aim to jump-start economic investment in historically underserved communities, provide opportunities for lower-income residents to remain in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, or preserve existing architecturally significant buildings.

The winning proposals include the long-discussed renovation of River North’s Art Deco Lawson House YMCA building, an upcoming tranche of the multiphase Roosevelt Square development in Little Italy, a new apartment building at 19th Street and Racine Avenue in Pilsen, and the Garfield Green development: a winner of an international sustainable design competition that will use modular construction. A full list of the projects—which were selected from a pool of 43 applicants—can be found on the city’s website...
Gap widens between Chicago, U.S. home value growth
By Dennis Rodkin
Home price growth in the Chicago area, which for a long stretch was running half the national pace, slowed to less than one-sixth the U.S. figure in January, new data shows.
It's the latest evidence that Chicago's real estate market was struggling even before COVID-19 threw a wrench into the machinery of the housing market.

The region's single-family home values rose 0.6 percent in January compared with the same month in 2019, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. Nationwide, home values were up 3.9 percent in January.

Through much of 2018 and 2019, the Chicago figure was consistently about half the national figure, both when the U.S. housing market was booming at about 6 percent growth in monthly reports, and when it fell to the 3 percent range in summer 2019...

State News
New York City Calls Off Construction, But Pritzker Says That’s Unlikely In Illinois
By Hannah Alani and Kelly Bauer
Following outcry from workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo nixed most residential and commercial building projects in New York City — but that’s unlikely to happen in Illinois, officials say. At the moment, construction projects in Illinois are considered “essential business” during the state’s stay-at-home order. Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday that’s unlikely to change.

He did say that it’s up to construction companies to maintain social distancing among workers. If they don’t, he said, that’s a concern.

“Anybody that is concerned about that certainly should be reporting to the Department of Public Health or letting my administration know,” he said. “Much of what is being done is essential work … and we don’t want anybody to be at risk, but we also want to make sure we’re continuing the necessary work across the state.”
Senior housing project in Warrenville could break ground next month
by Robert Sanchez
A developer of affordable senior housing plans to break ground next month on a 71-unit independent living community in Warrenville.

But before it can start construction of the three-story building, The Alden Foundation is seeking a roughly $2.5 million loan from DuPage County to help pay for the estimated $21.2 million project. County board members are expected to vote on the loan request later this month.

"We are looking to close on all the financing in mid-May, acquire the property and then begin construction," said Beth Demes, executive director of The Alden Foundation.

The development, dubbed Warrenville Horizon Senior Living Community, will offer independent living to seniors 62 and older in a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments...
Builders Were Scrambling To Fill a Severe Housing Shortage—and Then the Coronavirus Hit. What Now?
By Clare Trapasso
Before most Americans had even heard of the new coronavirus or COVID-19, the nation was suffering from a severe housing shortage. Builders couldn't put homes up fast enough to satisfy the hordes of eager buyers and renters. But the global pandemic and ensuing financial crisis have put home construction on ice, setting the stage for an even worse housing shortage when the economy recovers.

Construction is not considered an essential business in at least five states, including hard-hit New York and Washington. That means job sites have been forced to close as state orders supersede the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's guidance designating residential construction as an "essential infrastructure business."

Even in places where builders are allowed to carry on as normal, buyer demand for new homes is waning. That's likely to lead builders to put up fewer homes, at least until the crisis subsides. When you consider that more sellers are pulling their properties off the market due to health concerns or fears their homes won't fetch top dollar, there's little doubt the housing shortage will be exacerbated...
Coronavirus Casts A Dark Cloud Over The Outlook For The Spring Home Buying Season
By Brenda Richardson
The U.S. housing market got off to a bright start this year, but as the coronavirus crisis grips the country, dark clouds are hovering over the spring home buying season. And home sales will likely be much lower than had previously been expected.

Frank Nothaft, chief economist for data analytics firm CoreLogic, said home price appreciation was in a prime economic growth state prior to the pandemic with low mortgage rates, rising family income and a lean inventory of homes for sale to kick off the year’s quick growth.

“There was plenty of job growth,” he said. “In February, we hit 3.5% in unemployment, matching a 50-year low, so all the signs were really great for a strong home-buying spring. But the COVID pandemic hit, and that has just changed the complexion of the marketplace 180 degrees.”
The Case for a Rent Moratorium
By Gianpaolo Baiocchi and H. Jacob Carlson
Last week, the U.S. Senate approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. It includes many important elements, such as expanded unemployment benefits, and emergency aid for small businesses and hospitals hit hard by the crisis. This is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.

We need Congress to enact an immediate, 90-day national rent moratorium — a temporary suspension of rent payments that will keep families in their homes before other dominoes start to fall.

This would be a bailout for people — for the countless families already facing difficulties making their next rent payment and who soon will face the real prospect of eviction. If we do not act now, people will lose their access to housing. The social impact of evictions on individuals, families and communities will be brutal...

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