Four municipalities in south suburban Chicago that pooled their foreclosure mitigation resources hit a major milestone this month: completing the first phase of the South Cook County Homeownership Program, which transformed 26 formerly foreclosed, vacant, and neglected houses into beautiful, newly rehabbed homes in Hazel Crest, Lansing, Park Forest, and South Holland. These communities are part of the Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative (CSHCDC), which includes 42 municipalities. Since 2011, IFF has led the effort on behalf of the CSHCDC and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative (WCCHC) to acquire, rehab, and sell a total of 132 homes – with more still to come.
The south suburban homes were sold to families living at or below 80 percent of the area median income, which is about $59,000 for a family of four. A $3.8 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) allowed IFF’s real estate team to partner with developers, contractors, and homebuyer educators to transform the homes, and proceeds from home sales now go back into the revolving loan fund to improve more properties during the next phase. Qualified buyers received homebuyer education and up to $20,000 in down payment assistance. Other partners in the program included Breaking Ground, Kat’s Properties, Habitat for Humanity Chicago South Suburbs, Mecca Companies, and Neighborhood Housing Services.
“These were homes no one else was willing to buy and renovate,” says IFF Senior Project Manager Sarah Kirk. “The copper had been stripped and stolen from the inside, asbestos and lead had to be removed, and they needed a major makeover inside and out. That’s a heavy lift for any potential buyer, and that’s why IFF’s work is not just providing a path to ownership – it’s also helping revitalize whole communities that are affected by distressed properties.”
IFF’s work on behalf of both the south and west Chicago-area municipal collaboratives was featured by the Brookings Institution in its series of briefs on “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America.”