Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

The People Behind the Properties

You may already be aware of our work with prospective tenants—but the Housing Center also works closely with property owners across Oak Park in our mission to promote and sustain a diverse and inclusive community.

“We really appreciate our relationship with the Housing Center,” says Jacqueline Arica of R K Management. “Their mission to promote diversity is a good business model for the community we work to create in our buildings.”

The Housing Center works with approximately 200 property owners each year. Each one is different and they range from large companies with hundreds of units to small mom-and-pops with just an apartment or two to rent. We also help owners of condos, townhomes, and single-family homes with rentals.

Norka Escobedo, whose properties include two buildings on Washington Boulevard, appreciates working with the Housing Center. “I support their mission of promoting diversity and appreciate their commitment to refer qualified applicants to me. It helps with our hands-on model of getting to know our tenants.”

Many owners say they value the marketing help that the Housing Center provides.

“The Housing Center helps put me on an even playing field with larger owners with bigger advertising budgets,” says Don Rutledge, owner of a building on Austin Boulevard. “Together, we demonstrate how attractive the northeast part of Oak Park can be.”

LaVerne Collins has also worked with the Housing Center for years. “We put a lot of work into our apartments and the Housing Center really helps us market them as great places to live.”

“We’re very lucky in Oak Park to have a large number of locally-based landlords who care deeply about the community and equal opportunity,” says Housing Center Executive Director Rob Breymaier. “Our success is due in part to the good people who own and maintain apartments in Oak Park.

“The work we do with landlords is something we don’t mention often enough,” he adds. “We’re grateful for such enthusiastic partners. I think we work so well together because we all believe that Oak Park is the best place to live.”

Written by Julie Chyna

September 11th, 2014 at 6:42 pm

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Social Impact Investment and the Failure of Imagination

Domestic social impact investment is stuck. Each year a few deals trickle through, but despite the potential and promise, impact investments in the United States are rare, complex, and entirely one-off. To be sure, there are structural challenges to growing the market in the United States—just look at Tracy Palandjian’s recent article on the state of the social impact bond sector—but I can’t help feeling that we’re suffering as much from a failure of imagination as infrastructure. The problem is, few social entrepreneurs can clearly describe their impact capital needs, while few potential investors understand how to place impact capital into deals. I mean, if neither side really knows how to go about its business, how can we expect them to do business with each other? But I have an idea . . .

Written by Rooflines

September 11th, 2014 at 4:00 pm

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Johnny Outlaw works on the right side of the law helping ex-cons stay out of prison

Chicago — Outlaw’s his name. Getting ex-felons on the job rolls is his game.

Contrary to what his name may suggest, Chicago’s Johnny Outlaw doesn’t wear a six-shooter or black cowboy hat. That’s because he operates on the right side of the law. For more than 10 years, he has dedicated his life to providing legal aid and job-finding help in the city’s most impoverished areas, driven by a core belief: Those who have served their time in prison deserve a second chance.

“The most discriminated [against] class of people in our society are these guys on release from state and federal prison,” he says. “Whatever happened to paying your debt to society?”

Mr. Outlaw operates out of a tiny cramped office on the campus of Kennedy-King College, a city-run community college on Chicago’s South Side, where he shifts between two phones that seem to never stop ringing. He is a one-man shop: On a recent Thursday, he mentions that he has fielded 43 phone calls so far that week, and 23 letters from inmates sit on his desk awaiting replies..

To read the full article by the Christian Science Monitor visit the >>>Christian Science Monitor .

Written by Teamwork Englewood - Latest news

September 10th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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Does Richmond Show the Future of Community Wealth Building?

Although an important figure in both U.S. and African-American history, Maggie Lena Walker is not a household name—not the way, at least, that her contemporaries such as Brooker T. Washington, Zora Neale Hurston, or W.E.B. Dubois are. Yet Walker was the first woman (of any race) in the nation to charter a bank, which she did when she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, Va., in 1903. At least among those of us working in community development, that fact alone ought to make her far better known. Just last year, the city of Richmond lifted up her legacy when Mayor Dwight C. Jones chose to name the city’s anti-poverty program the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty. Richmond’s program, which includes the creation of the nation’s first Office of Community Wealth Building, marks a reimagining of community economic development policy. The use of the phrase “community wealth building” is deliberate. As Professor Thad Williamson, who has taken leave from the University of Richmond to help launch the initiative, explains: “We’re shifting a little away from the anti-poverty phrase—although it’s still used—simply because we don’t want people to think it’s anti-poor people. The focus is on poverty reduction but also building up neighborhood wealth.”  It is also a departure in that the office has a community advisory board entitled the Community Wealth Advisory Board—half of which is composed of residents below the poverty line—that will review and give feedback regarding proposals coming out of the office. Broadly, the office aims to break down divisions among seven different policy areas—transportation, housing, workforce development, targeted economic development, early childhood education, adolescent transition, and college access—in order to more effectively uproot structural poverty. The link between community wealth building and Walker is clear.

Written by Rooflines

September 10th, 2014 at 4:30 pm

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We want gubernatorial candidates to know our priorities

As the Nov. 4 Illinois gubernatorial election draws near, Active Trans has been working to ensure that the key issues we care about are being examined and debated by the candidates.

Active Trans recently shared a platform outlining our state-level priorities with all the Illinois gubernatorial candidates. And in coming weeks, we will be sending the candidates a questionnaire and then sharing the results with you.

We want Illinois residents to cast an informed vote on Nov. 4.

The governor’s office plays an important role in supporting and expanding active transportation options in our state. We know that biking, walking and transit can reduce congestion, enhance access to jobs and make communities more attractive, healthier places to live and work. 

In coming weeks, we will also share with you a platform highlighting our priorities for Chicago mayoral and aldermanic candidates. That platform will also be followed with a questionnaire for the candidates that will help voters decide where to cast their ballots.

The two major party gubernatorial candidates have been invited to attend Active Trans’ Annual Awards Reception, which honors public officials, businesses and community leaders who have made a positive impact on active transportation in our region.

While the campaigns have not given Active Trans a commitment to attend, we're hopeful that the candidates will make an appearance.  

The event will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 5:30 - 9 p.m., at the Revolution Brewing Tap Room, 3340 North Kedzie Ave., Chicago. Come enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages from Revolution Brewing. But be sure to register as soon as possible. There’s a good chance this event will sell out.

Written by TedVillaire

September 9th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

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Active Trans survey shows only 18 percent of drivers stop for pedestrians in painted crosswalks

Chicagoland has much work to do when it comes to compliance with the Must Stop for Pedestrians law, which requires people driving to stop whenever a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk.

According to a recent survey we performed, drivers stopped only 18 percent of the time when people on foot attempted to cross a street in a traditional painted crosswalk.

As reported in an article about the survey in the Chicago Tribune, compliance was even lower — only 5 percent — at “unmarked crosswalks” — crosswalks with no paint on the road or other safety features. Under the law, a crosswalk is present whenever a sidewalk leads into the street, whether it’s marked or not.

There were more than 4,700 reported pedestrian crashes with 130 fatalities in Illinois in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation; 84 percent of the crashes and 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities in Illinois occurred in metro Chicago.

In the city of Chicago, pedestrian fatalities accounted for one-third of all traffic fatalities in 2012, compared to roughly 14 percent statewide.

The survey compared marked versus unmarked crosswalks on two lane roadways at 52 locations in the city of Chicago and nearby suburban communities.

We found that compliance with the law was significantly higher — 61 percent — at painted crosswalks with other safety features, like the in-road “stop for pedestrians” signs, brick or stone crosswalks, raised crosswalks, or flashing beacons.

The Must Stop law is intended to help pedestrians — which include people on foot as well as those using wheelchairs or scooters — get across streets safely. It also provides clear direction to motorists on their responsibilities and it gives police well-defined guidelines for regulation and ticketing.

The law encourages walking by allowing pedestrians to cross a roadway at any legal crosswalk, which is especially important where controlled crosswalks are far apart, at school crossings, and in retail areas.

The law goes hand-in-hand with the state’s Complete Streets policy for making streets accessible and safe for all users, as well as the city of Chicago’s “Zero in Ten” campaign to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by the year 2020.

In 2009, Active Trans successfully led a campaign to pass the Must Stop for Pedestrians law. Before that, the law only required drivers to yield. Active Trans rallied support from lawmakers, as well as backing from AARP Illinois, Access Living, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Illinois State Police.

While the accuracy of the survey’s results for the region as a whole is somewhat limited by its scope and design, the results clearly show that Chicagoland motorists were significantly more noncompliant with the law than they were compliant. 

Pedestrian injuries and fatalities are all-too-common in Chicagoland. We feel that better compliance with the Must Stop for Pedestrians law not only would save lives, but would make people feel more inclined to walk in their communities.

Written by Rburke

September 8th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

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Division Street trees, festival finances

East Village Association minutes for July 7, 2014, submitted by Catherine Garypie
Aug. 3 EVA Block Party

800 block of North Winchester. Contributions needed - food, drink, etc.

Planning, Preservation & Development

  1. Fifield property at 1822-1850 W Chicago Ave. Alderman has been in negotiations. Owner-developer has an agreement about upzoning. McKnight asked for details. There will be a number of affordable units. This is contrary to EVA expectations and recommendations. McKnight will obtain more details.
  2. Trader Joe's update. Board met with Smithfield on May 12 and voted "not supporting" current proposal as presented. Questions sent on May 23. Smithfield has not yet responded. EVA Board has decided to send letter to alderman regarding TJ's development. There's now a zoning change notice on the fence at the property.
  3. Red Square tree pit. Ongoing problems with the tree pits (fencing gone, trees bricked in, tree pit being used for storage space for outdoor cafes). EVA and WPB don't want changes to tree pits and iron fencing. Alderman has agreed to get the Red Square tree pit back to normal. Red Square applied for the required permit for patio, but city had a hold on approval. Alderman said no on tree pit changes, and it appears Red Square did not have a permit. Other problematic tree pits: Anthem, Prasino, Moonshine, Smoke Daddy, Roots. Chicago Avenue has lost a lot of trees. Board will discuss further at next week's meeting.
  4. Forbidden Root. Zoning change and moratorium lift went through, according to Michael Van Dam. March-April 2015 is target opening for Forbidden Root.
  5. 1947 W Chicago Ave. Will be retail with apartments above. Details forthcoming. Developer is Barnett Capital.

Neighborhood association collaborative

Collaborative is continuing to meet. Collaborative is working on a Street Festival Financial Disclosure template. Concerns include: Charitable contribution is based on a dollar figure after alcohol sales are extracted and expenses subtracted. Expenses are sometimes not well documented.

Collaborative is planning a letter to certain aldermen about this. Collaborative is also monitoring possible changes to Fashion Fest/ "New Orleans Fest". Apparently there will be a music stage this year.

SSA tax increases

West Town SSA application has been submitted. Not sure if they reached 20% of PIN numbers. EVA will monitor. Majority of PINs in new SSA area are residential, which is a concern.

Library fundraising

Library started reading program for summer, on- & offsite. EVA is helping library collect school supplies. Party for reading program on Aug. 7. EVA will give out school bags with supplies. Will be table at EVA cookout on Aug. 3. Can bring donations to cook out.

Treasurer report

We have about $4,500.


Please contribute if you have good ideas and/or expertise.


Some problems on Marshfield Avenue. If you see something, call 911.

New Business

LsSalle II School (Wolcott side): impressive new mural will be finished this week. Work ongoing at Honore and Snowberry parks.

Starts 7:08pm, adjourns 7:35pm at Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

Written by Webmaster

September 8th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

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Blight ‘Squashed’ on Cottage Grove by Woodlawn Park Partnership

The event was mainly about housing for seniors... but a squash-playing teenager stole the show.

Kareemah Bates, a Monmouth College sophomore and competitive squash player, hailed the construction of the Academic and Squash Center in her hometown neighborhood.

John McCarron

So while the mayor of Chicago and the new cabinet secretary from Washington did the ceremonial honors – breaking ground for affordable senior housing in Woodlawn and an adjacent athletic facility – it was a college sophomore who captured the spirit of a neighborhood on the rise.

“When I started playing in 5th grade I never heard of the game of squash,” said Kareemah Bates, now a sophomore at downstate Monmouth College. “But it taught me the important lessons of growing up – to be confident in yourself, to serve your community and to never give up.”

Squash? Isn’t that one of those upper-crust racquet sports invented by British swells and played at swank East Coast boarding schools?    

Well, yes and no. Squash is a top-rated cardio workout, and adult players do tend to be health-minded college graduates. (History records that there was, in fact, a squash court on the first-class deck of the Titanic.) But the game has transcended its Ivy League roots to become a global sport with 20 million players in 188 countries.

Then again, its rep as a sport played by executives is exactly what makes squash such an effective tool for youth and community development. And why MetroSquash, an inner-city study-and-play program with backing from Chicago’s squash-playing business community, is going to build a $5 million Academic and Squash Center.

Double groundbreaking

So it was officially a double-groundbreaking ceremony August 21 at 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, where a 64-apartment senior housing complex called The Burnham will rise next door to the athletic center.

The two projects are the latest phase of Woodlawn Park, one of the more ambitious and unusual community redevelopment efforts in the nation. The diverse, mixed-income community is the most visible of efforts that LISC Chicago has supported over the past few years in the wider Woodlawn neighborhood.

“LISC has helped us leverage more than $30 million in investments across my ward,” said Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), who emceed the groundbreaking, attended by some 150 Woodlawn Park residents and civic leaders.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel escorted HUD Secretary Julian Castro to the event, and the secretary promptly announced it was his “first real field visit” since the former mayor of San Antonio took over the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development at the end of July.

“Chicago is known as the Windy City and the winds of change are blowing in a positive direction here in Woodlawn,” declared Sec. Castro. He pointed out that cities around the world are adding population and that “Chicago is in the vanguard of this new century of cities.” Millennials are going urban, he said, “for the same reason people always have chosen cities – because of opportunity.”

HUD Secretary Julian Castro was on hand to break ground on the Squash Center and The Burnham, a 64-unit senior building in Woodlawn.

John McCarron

Castro especially thanked POAH (stands for Preservation Of Affordable Housing), the Boston-based nonprofit that was summoned to Chicago in 2008 to oversee redevelopment of the run-down Grove Parc subsidized rental complex into Woodlawn Park. That transformation would become the centerpiece of a wider Choice Neighborhoods Initiative for Woodlawn awarded competitively by HUD in 2011, bringing $30.5 million of federal resources to bear on a strategy residents codified years earlier in their quality-of-life plan.

“In partnership with the City of Chicago and POAH,” said Castro, “we’ll have developed almost 1,000 homes for people of mixed incomes and ages, a diversity that will truly enhance the entire city of Chicago… all because you have strong leadership… and a vision.”

Early resources make ground-breakings possible

LISC Chicago’s consistent investments in Woodlawn’s revival helped make this specific day happen.  A $5 million LISC line of credit has given POAH invaluable early flexibility in financing property acquisition, tenant relocation, demolition and myriad pre-development expenses, from architect’s fees to utility hookups.

The new five-story brick seniors’ building used $1.7 million of that LISC credit line to put together a feasible deal, attracting JPMorgan Chase to provide both construction and permanent mortgage financing.

The Burnham will have a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with monthly rents for income-eligible seniors ranging from $667 to $1,009. Plans by architects Landon Bone Baker call for a community room with kitchen, an exercise room, a library and a lounge big enough for visiting health care and social service providers.

POAH next intends to continue the Woodlawn Park redevelopment with an apartments-over-retail project on the east side of Cottage Grove. And there’s early-stage exploration of a hotel project at 60th Street to capture some of the jobs and economic activity radiating from the adjacent University of Chicago hospitals complex.

If all is realized, what once was a grimy and threatening three-block stretch of Cottage Grove – a strategically key stretch between the stately U. of C. campus and the 63rd Street Green Line terminal – will be utterly transformed.

Residents’ vision

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Emanuel closed the speechmaking by crediting residents who “never gave up on your community.” Indeed, several of those on hand were veterans of the 2005 New Communities Program quality-of-life planning process that anticipated much of what is now being realized.

A rendering of The Burnham, a new 64-unit senior apartment building.

“This is your day,” the mayor said. “These are your shovels. This is your dream. Woodlawn is back … and it is thriving.”

Bates, an honor roll graduate of Kenwood Academy more accustomed to hefting a racquet than a shovel, then joined the VIPs for the ceremonial dirt-toss.

Kareemah said she was leaving the next day for college. But not to worry… like Woodlawn, she’s coming back.

More information:  

Bill Eager, POAH Vice President, 312-283-0032

Lashunda Gonzalez, Choice Neighborhood Director, 312.283.0031

Jake Ament, LISC Chicago Program Officer, 312.422.9573

Written by LISC Chicago

September 8th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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Mamas, Don’t Let Your Organizers Grow Up To Be Developers

When a community-based developer of affordable housing incorporates community organizing into its programmatic repertoire, there is almost always added value—for the persons housed, for residents of the area served, for the organization itself. The reverse is less often true. Community organizers rarely become better at cultivating collective power and agitating for social change when they leave the streets, exchanging ball caps for hard hats. Not only do they stop doing what they do best; they start doing something that takes everyone a terribly long time to do well. Place-based activism is diminished by this one-way flow of talent. I lament it, although I would hesitate to pinch it off, since the entire field of community development is regularly replenished and reinvigorated by organizers becoming developers. Nor would I discourage grassroots activists from exploring whether a new community development corporation (CDC), community land trust, or the like might be needed. While nonprofit start-ups should never be done lightly, there are neighborhoods and towns without any nonprofit development capacity. There are also many places where long-established community development organizations have lost touch with values and constituents to which they were once committed or have become increasingly adverse to attempting any development other than tax credit rental housing or plain vanilla homeownership. In these cases, having people who have been building collective power turn their energies toward building housing or doing other sorts of development can be positive, despite the potential for competing with existing nonprofits for subsidies and sites that are already in short supply. Competition is not always a bad thing. Every field, including ours, needs irreverent young Turks periodically storming the gates of organizations that may have lost their edge, giving graybeards like me a run for our money. That said, my heart sinks a little whenever I’m approached by a group that has been doing great advocacy organizing and now wants my advice about acquiring land, building houses, or doing some other sort of development.

Written by Rooflines

September 8th, 2014 at 2:54 am

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Tips for Getting Your “Innovative” Project Funded

In her July Rooflines post on the idea of “disruptive innovation,” Miriam Axel-Lute addressed how innovation has been over promoted in the nonprofit and public sectors. She focused on the difference between “the world of venture capital” and the nonprofit and public worlds—the latter two have obligations beyond earnings, which makes other organizations in their sectors partners rather than competitors. This means that nonprofit and public-sector organizations do not need to fixate on innovation, but often should focus on long-term goals with incremental improvements. “So very often what we need is will and coordination to implement well-known solutions, not some radically new solution,” Axel-Lute writes. Really, we need to strike a balance between innovation and proven, dependable strategies. We have tried to do that at the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s (OHFA) Housing Investment Fund (HIF) since 2009. HIF is a competitive grant and loan program for strategies to address housing needs that do not entirely fit the parameters of OHFA’s core programs. HIF-funded projects are intended to implement unique, innovative and replicable approaches to meet Ohio’s housing needs, further the achievement of OHFA’s Annual Plan, and help drive housing policy for long-term economic and social value. By targeting initiatives outside of traditional program boundaries, OHFA encouraged proposals that demonstrated a greater diversity of affordable housing opportunities and services and/or served areas with few affordable housing options. (Note: the fund has been suspended to allow OHFA to identify additional resources for the program.) The 33 projects HIF funded with its $13.4 million in funding include capital improvements, an evaluation to assess Appalachian Ohio housing needs, an analysis of a renter equity program, installation of temporary modular ramps for disabled individuals, tenant-landlord mediation services for renters at imminent risk of eviction, lead and energy efficiency repairs, a mobile health clinic for Cleveland’s Housing First projects, a permanent supportive housing (PAH) employment program, and construction of a life skills training facility for persons with developmental disabilities. Encouraging “unique, innovative, and replicable” projects can prove challenging. Although HIF incentivized new approaches, project sponsors must still produce results that make public investments worthwhile. The public sector is risk averse when it comes to potential financial losses. From our experiences working with HIF, here are some key considerations for organizations applying for funding for an “innovative” project:  

Written by Rooflines

September 5th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

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