Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Is DC Really Affordable?

  I'm glad to see I'm not the only one thinking about the limits of the "30 percent of your income" housing affordability definition. This Washington City Paper article gets into the idea that housing and transportation together is a better measure of affordability, but then also addresses the idea that I have also raised that "how much disposable income you have left over after paying for housing" might be a better measure of whether your housing costs too much than what percentage you are paying. It's an interesting application of this angle to note that DC Millenials' salaries are enough higher than those in many other cities that's DC's could be considered "more affordable" for them than other cities, such as Baltimore, even though they are spending a median 44 percent of their income on rent. It's definitely a noteworthy point that a median earner with a median 1-BR apartment in Boston or San Francisco would be much worse off than one in DC, and folks in cheaper cost of living cities not necessarily better off. But does that mean the city is really "affordable"? After all, the critique of the 30 percent housing affordability measure says that housing costs are always going to fall hardest on the poor. So to say that DC is really a more affordable city broadly speaking you should be at least as interested, if not more, in how well it houses its lower income workers and fixed-income seniors, rather than its professional Millienials. How do wages on the lower end of the scale in DC compare to elsewhere? I don't have an answer to that; minimum wage in DC is going up to $9.50/hour—no where near, for example, Seattle's groundbreaking $15. Perhaps that's the next number crunching the Office of Revenue can take on. (Photo credit: Flickr user Ken Lund, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Written by Rooflines

April 17th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

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The Immigrant Population In Profile

Implications for Policy with a Focus on Housing and Urban and Workforce Development                 The U.S. immigrant population is growing, and today immigrants can be found in virtually every city across America. Immigrants are driving population growth in the Sun Belt, Pacific Northwest and Mountain States and helping to slow population decline in Middle America (Pew Charitable Trust 2014). Immigrants—meaning people born abroad not of American parents nor in the U.S. territories—help to inject economic vitality into the areas they locate by paying taxes, creating businesses, stimulating consumption, and meeting labor demand. But this population is not a monolith. Digging deeper into the data to learn what countries they come from, where they live, and the socio-demographic characteristics of their households can help us craft immigrant-conscious policies and programs that can foster the well-being of immigrants—and the communities where they live.

Written by Rooflines

April 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

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Building Financial Opportunities for Chicagoans

For more than a decade, LISC Chicago and its Centers for Working Families (CWF) have helped families and individuals become more financially secure. Because April is National Financial Capability Month, and Money Smart Week takes place from April 18 – 25, over the next several weeks LISC Chicago will highlight each CWF through a series of videos showcasing their work throughout the city. 

LISC Chicago's Centers for Working Families, which provide a variety of financial and employment services, will be highlighted in a series of videos over the next several weeks.

Photos by Eric Young Smith

“It's exciting. I'm excited about my life right now,” said Christine Wilson, a Center for Working Families client. “When I first came here, I was depressed. I was having a hard time, I was struggling. Just coming home after so long, reconnecting with my family, trying to find a job.” 

Christine is a mother of three and grandmother of two. She had a hard time finding a job after being in prison for eight years on a drug charge. Christine is now employed as a computer numerical control operator using numbers to manufacture car parts. She received training for her new job at the Jane Addams Resource Corporation, one of LISC Chicago’s Centers for Working Families

Building financial opportunities for Chicagoans may begin with a job, but it doesn’t end there. Each year, LISC's 13 CWFs connect 12,000 residents to career development, financial coaching, digital-skills training, credit building and income support services. 

Based on a model developed by the Anne E. Casey Foundation, LISC Chicago’s CWF network started more than 10 years ago. Inspired by the community-based model and the impact in Chicago, National LISC expanded the program and called them Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) eight years ago resulting in more than 70 sites nationwide today. 

But what exactly does this mean and what do these CWFs do? 

The CWFs, supported and guided by LISC Chicago, connect residents in economically distressed neighborhoods with comprehensive financial coaching that emphasizes long-term financial wellness. CWFs help people become more financially secure in three critical areas: employment and/or increased wages; improved financial condition; and improved access to public benefits. 

“Often, when clients get placed in a job they still don’t have enough income to pay for their monthly expenses,” said Jennifer McClain, director of financial opportunities at LISC Chicago. “Our sites not only assist our clients with what they need to get higher-wage jobs – whether that’s helping them think through advancement at their current employment or assess training needs and opportunities for higher skilled job – but, also determine their career goals and specific pathways toward those goals.”

Employment training is one of the services offered by some of LISC Chicago's CWFs.

One of the goals, McClain said, is to prepare clients for sustainable success on career paths with opportunities for advancement. Also unlike traditional job placement services, CWFs maintain relationships with clients even after they’ve secured employment. 

“Our CWF coaches are their clients’ cheerleaders – they’re there to support the client through dreaming big and defining progress toward their goals,” she said. 

And for Christine, she now has a five-year financial plan. 

“I can actually find a nice apartment for me and my children,” she said. “I was scared. But now, I feel like I'm kicking life in the tail. I’ve taken off. I'm so excited, and I'm not done yet.” 

Check every Tuesday starting April 21 to view the videos and learn more about how the CWFs are striving to make financial stability a reality for thousands of local families.

LISC’s CWF Network in Chicago is generously supported by JPMorgan Chase; the City of Chicago; The Social Innovation Fund (Corporation for National and Community Service); BMO Harris Bank; U.S. Bank; Comcast Internet Essentials; the Crown Family Philanthropies; State Farm Insurance; Bank of America; GCM Grosvenor; MetLife Foundation; First Midwest Bank; Accenture; Citi Foundation and Walmart Foundation. 

For more information on the Centers for Working Families, contact Jennifer McClain, or (312) 422-9563.

Written by LISC Chicago

April 15th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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Article Reveals Manufactured Housing Industry’s Greed

Earlier this month, the Center for Public Integrity and The Seattle Times released an investigative article examining the business practices of the leading manufactured home builder, lender, and retailer, Clayton Homes. As many readers now know, Clayton, a Berkshire Hathaway firm, operates the two largest lenders, the biggest retail network, and the top manufactured home builder in the nation. What may have come as a surprise, though, is how the practices highlighted in the article seem to be a replay of those that led to the larger housing crisis about 10 years ago—misleading loan terms, underwater homeowners and questionable practices that look a lot like steering.

Written by Rooflines

April 15th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

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Engaging Banks—And Fighting Them at the Same Time

John Taylor, the President of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), proudly told me that NCRC’s Annual Conference is among the most diverse gatherings of individuals across the country that are connected to the civil rights movement. As a newcomer this year, I was struck by the professional diversity of the conference: a critical mass of advocates, organizers, community developers, academics, administrators, and bankers and regulators, all on one upmarket hotel floor. It was energizing to watch the hodgepodge of economic justice devotees convene to share lessons and advance their common cause. It was also fascinating to watch its different factions—the squeaky wheels and the well-oiled ones—navigate their inherent tensions. Some of the interplay felt familiar: for instance, an optimistic panel on asset-based community development morphing into a less comfortable discussion on cultural development and gentrification. And some felt more distinct. After a session on successful state and local policy campaigns, a gray-haired gentleman—familiar from local events—asked a pointed question on curbing the insidious revolving door between banks and regulators. When a regulator who was also a former banker spoke up from the back of the room to defend her ilk, the collective response was non-oppositional. Instead, the discussion turned to how critical it is for community groups to make an effort to work collegially with banks to reach common goals. The first gentleman then admitted to also being a former banker, which elicited laughter. “It’s okay,” one woman said. “We forgive you.” As its attendees struck balances and occasionally butted heads, NCRC seemed to be conducting its own balancing act: on one hand it offered a polite welcome to bankers and placed their full-page ads in its 60-page conference program; on the other, its inner activist intermittently—and very publicly—held their feet to fire. The appearance of Thomas Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, was a prime example.

Written by Rooflines

April 14th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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Chicago Avenue facade rehab to begin

Rehab will begin soon at 1947 W. Chicago Ave.

Work is expected to begin in the next three or four weeks on a landmark storefront at 1947 W. Chicago Ave.

A new owner worked with the East Village Association and Chicago Grand Neighbors Association to follow architectural best practices in restoring the Italianate facade. Both groups consented to upzoning to allow three residential units above a storefront.

The building sustained significant damage after a previous rehab was abandoned. It's listed as significant, or "orange rated," in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.

The project was discussed at tonight's EVA board meeting at West Town Bakery, 1916 W. Chicago Ave. Before the meeting, the owner at 1531 W. Haddon St. asked the planning committee to weigh in on an upzoning request. Attorney Mark Kupiec claimed the original single-family zoning was in dispute, but did not present documentation.

Newly elected 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins will speak at the May 4 membership meeting. Board members plan to update a white paper on East Village issues presented to 1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno when he took office five years ago.

Also discussed were ways to work with local agencies on planting trees in the neighborhood, and West Town health issues being studied in a Loyola University Chicago class project.

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

April 14th, 2015 at 2:58 am

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Police affirm Division, Chicago foot patrols

Jeff Liberman of Asado Coffee unwinds with Dan Johnson at the Happy Village.

Police will address foot patrol staffing on Division and Chicago avenues, CAPS coordinator Molly Murray reports to East Village Association members. Cmdr. Melissa Staples had not known beat cops were filling in elsewhere and said she "will take care of it."

Tonight's meeting ended long before the Wisconsin-Duke game tipoff. Here are notes from the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.:

Extra remodeling incentives are available for buildings with electric heat through Elevate Energy. The nonprofit offers free energy advice to apartment owners and a $99 assessment to homeowners.

John Rutherford of Smoke Daddy will lease the former Moonshine space at 1824 W. Division St. to Mike Bisbee of Parlor Pizza. Plans will be presented at a future EVA meeting.

Asado Coffee is opening another shop at 363 W. Erie; the local chain roasts in East Village at 1651 W. Chicago.

Red Apple Convenience’s appeal for a liquor license was denied by the appellate court.

Red Square sidewalk cafe license is still on hold till a tree pit is restored in front of the building at 1914 W. Division.

Written by Stephen Rynkiewicz

April 14th, 2015 at 1:16 am

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Former Max Gerber site: United Logan Square voices question Moreno’s process for Buono development

Going door to door in the Logan Square area near the former Max Gerber location, at Milwaukee and California Avenues, representatives of the Logan Square Neighborhood AssociationLogan Square Preservation and SOMOS Logan Square are collecting signatures on petitions.

Directed at 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, they are asking him to "defer the April 16 Chicago Plan Commission hearing [of Rob Buono's proposed project] until the community has had the opportunity to give real input on the proposal." In addition to delivering petitions, people are planning to attend his Ward Night this Tuesday about the 2293 N. Milwaukee Ave. site. 

"Any community process needs to be transparent, open and accessible," says Daniel La Spata, a Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) Board of Directors member and Co-Chair of the Housing and Land Use Committee.  Moreno's Mar. 30 meeting did not meet those criteria, he pointed out.  

In a joint letter from John McDermott, LSNA, Housing and Land Use Director, and Andrew Schneider, Logan Square Preservation, to Moreno, on Mar. 31, they related what they

saw at the meeting and requested that there be one more public meeting. The reasons they gave were:

  • those in the back room could not see or hear the presentation being made in the front room
  • several people came to the door of the back room and left after a few minutes because of overcrowding
  • the Spanish translator was unable to see the faces of the presenters or the presentation screen, making it difficult for her to effectively interpret
  • the meeting was on an evening full of local events, including an important public meeting hosted by State Rep. Guzzardi
  • the meeting was called on short notice 

"When we learned the next day from an article in theChicago Sun-Times that the project was going to the Planning Commission on Apr. 16, we felt that the project was going forward no matter what our opinion was," said La Spata. 

Proposed Project 
The proposed transit oriented development (TOD) project is a two tower 
residential and retail complex at 2293 N.

Milwaukee Ave. The north tower on Belden is to be 12 stories with the height of 135' 8" and housing 135 units. The south tower along Washtenaw is to be 11 stories totaling 124' 11" in height with 78 units. There are to be 68 parking spaces. Retail is to occupy 5,767 sq. ft. in the Belden tower and 3,221 sq. ft. in the Washtenaw tower.

In addition they propose green roofs and a private green space, separated from Milwaukee Ave by a wall. 

Of the 235 units, they are saying that they will have 21 Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) units and 8 Workforce units.  

In November 2008 the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development adopted the North Milwaukee Avenue Corridor Plan for the 0.75 miles between N. Western Ave. and N. California Ave. A comparison primarily focuses on Vision and Development, Development Framework, and Development Concepts identified in the Corridor Plan. Buono and partner Paul Utigard along with Jamie McNally, who originally presented the project to the public in November 2014, point to the 2008 document as a "blueprint" for their proposal. 

In this current proposal they have reduced both height and density. However, residents say that the project is still too tall and too dense, among other things. 

Project concerns and opposition
Logan Square Preservation opposes this project as it is currently proposed and believes it is not yet ready to move forward, noting, at a bare minimum, the developer’s plan to build a very long brick wall at street level along Milwaukee Avenue, flies in the face of the ideas underlying pedestrian streetscape in a dynamic environment close to the Blue Line California Station. 

"The proposed 12-story and 11-story towers would set a dangerous precedent for out-of-scale development that would lead to more tear-downs, displacement and higher storefront rents in Logan Square," said La Spata. 

"The proposal does not provide sufficient community benefits, such as setting aside units that are truly affordable to local families, and in essence creates a 'gated community' with the walled in green space. " 

Jennie Fronczak says, "The 21 ARO units in the proposal aren't really affordable for many local families. The 'affordable' units being created through the ARO are not actually affordable for thousands of working class households in our community. 

"Under the ARO, developers building rental units need to make them affordable to families at or below 60% of an Area Median Income (AMI) that is based on the six-county metropolitan area. That's $43,440 for a family of four. 

"However, per the U.S Census data, the median income for Latino families in Logan Square is $34,346. While $9,094 is a formidable gap for local families trying to avoid displacement, given the ridiculous profit the developers stand to make, I would like to know what they will do to bridge the gap so that the ARO units will truly be accessible to local households." 

Along Talman on Sunday afternoon, several residents expressed their concerns regarding density because there will only be 68 parking spaces. 

Resident Bart Longacre said he has mixed feelings about the development. "If they can get people to pay that much for an apartment without parking that would be great. But, when their friends show up for parties and are looking for a place to park, I'm going to be upset because they will be parking here," he said indicating the street in front of his home. 

"I know that Logan Square's density is not high, but they are talking about putting a lot of density into an area that has never had density. Parking is my major concern because I live pretty far from the Congress Theatre, but not far enough. Any time something is going on there, I may have to park way north across Fullerton." 

Two of those knocking on doors were Bhaskar Manda and his neighbor Rafael. Manda is on the LSNA Board and Unity Park, 2636 N Kimball Ave., and Rafael was very involved in the multi-year project that resulted in obtaining land and adding to the size of Unity Park. 

Rafael, who has lived on the same block for 28 years says, "Change comes but the high rises of today do not want anyone with low income living there. Where are the people who live there now going to go? I'm for affordable housing, but these are not affordable." 

Manda says, "Once the home owners around here know what people are willing to pay, they will start raising their rents. Assessments will go up. I think we are all for development. We are just for balanced development." 

"I'm for development too," said Rafael. "But I'm more for them building homes, including affordable homes. They tore down Cabrini Green, what are they going to do, put another one over here? Sometime they expect a certain income from these buildings and then they don't get them. Then they wind up with a bunch of empty units, then you get tenants that go in and tear them up.

Michael Suess signs a petition

"As I was talking with people, I was surprised to hear so many talking about the wall on Milwaukee Ave. That is a very walkable street in many sections, having a wall sounds out of character for Milwaukee," said Manda. 

Christian Villarreal's concerns are "parking, traffic, chaos and taxes."  Michael Suess has similar concerns. 

As they urge Moreno to defer (postpone) the Apr. 16 hearing, the three organizations request 1st Ward residents to email the alderman or call his office at 773.278.0101. For those interested in receiving an update before the hearing, send an email to LSNAwith your name, address and phone number. For more information, contact John McDermott at 773.384.4370 or via email

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For those people who didn't think it important to attend the 3/30/2015 meeting re this project, but who now do, here's the recording:

Written by Logan Square Neighborhood Association - Latest news

April 13th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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Immigration Is a Community Development Issue

The story of neighborhood populations changing with waves of migrants is a classic part of the history of American cities. We are, as most school children have heard, a national of immigrants—some voluntary, some involuntary, some driven by persecution, some lured by opportunity. When I lived in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, as one of very few non Spanish speakers in my building, the mezuzzah (a Jewish scroll of Torah nailed by a door frame) under several layers of paint by my apartment's front door was a reminder of some of the history of who had lived in that building. Whether newly arrived, or moving within the country, new arrivals to a city often cluster in one place. This too is sometimes voluntary, for social networks and familiarity, and sometimes horrifically involuntary, as with the violence that enforced the ghettos in northern cities during the great northern migration of African Americans fleeing Jim Crow. In any case, the movement continues today, whether it's Latin American children fleeing gangs, U.S. cities welcoming refugees from international violence, or longer-established immigrant communities moving within the country, sometimes displaced from historic urban neighborhoods to suburbs, sometimes following jobs into the heartland. Large immigrant populations are no longer the province of major coastal cities. Community development groups located anywhere are likely to have at least some immigrants within their constituencies, and in some cases might be seeing the demographics of their neighborhoods shifting significantly. This can bring new challenges: Adding services in other languages. Understanding how federal immigration policy and citizenship status affects members/constituents. Addressing a need for new kinds of financial services, and even new building plans. Developing cultural competancy. I spoke at a conference last year with a woman who headed an agency in a older upstate NY city that helped people attain homeownership. She spoke of challenges within her city's refugee community, in which social divisions from home countries affected people's ideas of who could and should become an owner of property even here. These are the kinds of things that can take a community-based organization by surprise if they have not thought of immigration as relevant to their work. A few years ago we published a wonderful article based on research by James DeFilippis and Benjamin Faust on New York City CDCs and how they adapted—or didn't—to changing demographics in their neighborhoods. Over the next couple of months, we are pleased to be following that up with a series of articles that will both give an introduction to the context of immigration patterns, immigration reform, and immigration organizing in the United States and then explore some of the ways in which the community development field is encountering and working with immigration explicitly, from citizenship loans to partnerships among difference ethnic-focused organizations, to going multilingual.  Keep an eye out for these articles (make sure you are signed up for Shelterforce Weekly to not miss any!) and if you have an example of a great immigration-related community development program or campaign we should cover, or if you have a question or challenge you'd like us to try to address in this series, let us know!

Written by Rooflines

April 13th, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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Can Nonprofit Leaders Also Be Tech Innovators?

You may have seen my prior post on why the nonprofit sector is so tech averse. If you haven't read it you should, because my observations are fresh, keen, and entertaining. But just in case you don't have time, here's the summary: Nonprofit leaders don't have much exposure to applied tech, so they don't know what tech tools are out there. Even if they do know, they lack the internal staff capacity to implement and manage new tech. Even if they have some internal capacity, many of their funders don't understand applied tech and so they don't know how to support nonprofits trying to implement it. Even if nonprofit leaders have the exposure, capacity, and money, most wouldn't know how and where to look for the tech talent. You see what I'm getting at? There's all this tech popping up (not to mention all the great design thinking that's going on around it), but the nonprofit sector on the whole is about two to three generations behind on tech adoption. If you think I'm lying, take a look at Raiser's Edge sometime. So here's a really bad idea that we should try anyway: Let's teach nonprofit leaders to be tech innovators ...

Written by Rooflines

April 13th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

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