When the South Suburban Housing Collaborative and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative were formed in 2009, they were built on a bold idea: that municipalities could look beyond political boundaries and work together to tackle the pressing housing needs of their areas, from foreclosure response to affordable housing to strategic and sustainable development. It was a tall order, and one that had scarcely been tried elsewhere. Almost two years later, the experiment is starting to show positive results. The West Cook County Housing Collaborative broke ground on their first project this month in Maywood.
Affordable rental housing is a critical, but increasingly limited, resource throughout the Chicago region. As more families lose their homes to foreclosure, more families are in need of rental housing. Additionally, an increasing number of rental buildings are disappearing to foreclosure. According to the DePaul Institute for Housing Studies, 559 multifamily rental buildings in West Cook County had a foreclosure filed on them in 2009, affecting 1,712 units. That’s up 83 percent from 2007, when 296 buildings with 933 units entered foreclosure. In Maywood alone, 62 multifamily rental buildings entered foreclosure in 2009 followed by another 47 in 2010, according to data from Woodstock Institute.
The West Cook County Housing Collaborative, a joint effort between the municipalities of Bellwood, Berwyn, Forest Park, Maywood, and Oak Park, is taking steps to keep quality affordable housing available in the western suburbs by renovating a foreclosed multifamily rental building in Maywood and returning it to productive use, using funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The Collaborative is coordinated by IFF, a Midwest community development financial institution that provides loans and real estate services to nonprofits serving low-income and special needs populations. IFF purchased the Maywood property on behalf of the Collaborative, and is managing all aspects of the property’s renovation. After the construction is completed, IFF will transfer the units to the North West Housing Partnership to own and lease as affordable rental units. The Maywood Apartments contain 26 units, half of which will be affordable to households at or below 50 percent of area median income ($37,700 for a family of four).
Additionally, the Maywood Apartments project will be a boon to the local economy. The project is expected to create 120 construction positions as well as a full-time permanent position.
Cook County Economic Development Bureau Chief Maria Saldana, IFF CEO Joe Neri, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at the groundbreaking of the Maywood Apartments