The Housing Initiative is a transactional clinic that works with clients to build new housing for low-income people. In this presentation, clinic director Jeff Leslie describes the work of the clinic and how students participate.
About the Clinic
The Housing Initiative Transactional Clinic provides legal representation on complex real estate development projects to build affordable housing. Clients include nonprofit, community-based affordable housing developers and housing cooperatives.
Students serve as deal lawyers, working with clients and teams of professionals—such as financial consultants, architects, marketing professionals, property managers, and social service providers—to bring affordable housing and mixed use development projects to fruition. Projects range from single family rehabs with budgets in the $30,000 to $75,000 range, to multi-million dollar rental and mixed use projects financed by low income housing tax credits, tax exempt bonds, TIF, and other layered subsidies. Students also counsel nonprofit clients on governance and tax issues related to their work.
In addition to their client work, students meet as a group in a weekly two-hour seminar in autumn quarter, and in a weekly one-hour seminar during winter and spring quarters, to discuss the substantive rules and legal skills pertinent to real estate development transactions and to examine emergent issues arising out of the students' work. During the fall quarter seminar, returning clinic students need only attend the first hour; new students should attend for the full two hours. In the winter and spring quarters, all students should attend all the one-hour seminar sessions.
Academic credit for the Housing Initiative Transactional Clinic varies and is awarded according to the Law School's general criteria for clinical courses as described in the Law School Announcements and by the approval of the clinical faculty.
The Clinic is directed by Professor Jeff Leslie. Previously, Prof. Leslie was an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the City of Chicago Department of Law, where he worked on affordable housing and economic development transactions. He currently serves as the Faculty Director of Curriculum and as Director of Clinical and Experiential Learning.CV & Contact
From counseling limited equity housing cooperatives on governance, nonprofit law and tax issues to investigating the Chicago Housing Authority’s implementation of a major new source of public housing redevelopment financing, the Clinic's work spans many aspects of housing law and policy.
The Clinic publishes briefs on topics ranging from best practices in creating community benefits agreements to reviewing the Chicago Housing Authority's policies on vacant properties.
In severely distressed neighborhoods, private investment is sorely needed to improve properties, increase public safety, create jobs, and enliven city blocks and community life. Entrepreneurial investors and developers may see opportunities, but the usual set of affordable housing subsidies may not always be well suited. Where the goal is to stimulate private investment and revitalization, imposing affordability restrictions that restrict the potential upside value of redeveloped properties can lead profit-minded developers to take their dollars elsewhere.