The Housing Initiative Transactional Clinic continued its work supporting nonprofits and low income residents in the development of new affordable housing.
The Clinic worked with artists and long-time residents of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood who have organized to fight displacement from gentrification in their neighborhood through the establishment of a resident-owned, limited equity housing cooperative called Pilsen Housing Cooperative (PIHCO). PIHCO aims to reintroduce a path to homeownership for low to moderate-income families in Pilsen by acquiring multiple properties and organizing as a scattered-site co-op. By making the co-op limited equity, which restricts the return from resale of co-op memberships, PIHCO will ensure that memberships will remain affordable in the future even as market prices for home ownership and rentals continue to increase. The Clinic worked with PIHCO to structure the co-op’s bylaws to build in enough flexibility to incorporate PIHCO’s guiding principles of affordability and anticipated expansion, and also to create guidelines and direction for the Board to handle issues that arise in the future. The Clinic has also assisted PIHCO with positioning itself to finance the scattered-site co-op, and has met with potential development partners and lenders to discuss the acquisition of properties. Representing limited equity co-ops gives clinic students the opportunity to work directly with the beneficiaries of affordable housing, who are also the owners, and our Clinic students developed an excellent working relationship with this diverse and committed group.
The Clinic represents the Cabrini Green public housing tenant association in two joint ventures that reached significant milestones in 2017-2018. The first joint venture is with the Hunt Companies, to build a mixed-use, mixed-income development on the footprint of what was once Cabrini Green public housing. This $141 million project will feature 482 residential units (including public housing, affordable, and market rate units), green space, and 32,900 feet of retail space. During 2017-18, students negotiated the joint venture agreement between our client and the co-developer, addressing governance rights within the venture, parameters for project financing and guaranties, and the economic split between the parties, among other issues. Students also negotiated an environmental remediation agreement and predevelopment financing documents. The project is in the pipeline for development financing using low income housing tax credits and will likely start construction in 2019.
In the second joint venture, the Clinic represents the Cabrini public housing tenant association in a development effort with Brinshore-Michaels to build a $45 million mixed use project with 104 residential units (including public housing, affordable, and market rate units) and building amenities. During 2017-18, students prepared a joint venture agreement between our client and the co-developer, and the project team is in the process of finalizing a master development agreement with the public housing authority. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2019 or 2020.
On the policy front, the clinic in collaboration with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law investigated the Chicago Housing Authority’s implementation of a major new source of public housing redevelopment financing: the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. Several features of the CHA’s rollout of the program were reviewed for their effects on public housing residents’ rights regarding relocation assistance and rights to return to sites undergoing development, among other issues. The overlay of the RAD program notices, fair housing regulations, public housing regulations, site-specific consent decrees and the CHA’s regulatory waivers from HUD as a Moving to Opportunity jurisdiction result in a thicket of regulation that clinic students helped to untangle to assist with advocacy to ensure public housing residents’ rights and benefits under the RAD program are implemented properly.
Last, the Clinic represented the Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC), a community-based organization made up of residents of the Garfield Park neighborhood and program partners, with a mission to revitalize Garfield Park and develop programs that support the Garfield Park community in the areas of housing, business development, public safety, and wellness. With the assistance of the Clinic, GPCC successfully negotiated a lease agreement for new office space allowing for better administrative efficiency as well as increased community engagement. The project included understanding the GPCC’s governance role within the partnership entity that served as landlord, the landlord-tenant relationship between GPCC and its building management partner, reviewing and revising a lease for the office space, and counseling the client in negotiating specific lease provisions.