New grants for health, housing and safety
With enrollment in the federal Affordable Care Act poised to begin on October 1, LISC Chicago has received a $1.35 million grant from the State of Illinois to help its NCP network partners inform neighborhood residents of the health insurance program and enroll them in it. The outreach work will be done through 11 participating NCP lead agencies, with enrollment occurring at the Centers for Working Families sites.
LISC Chicago is also serving as the city's fiscal agent for a $3 million award from the Illinois Attorney General's office to support the MIcro-Market Recovery Program - a neighborhood stabilization effort focusing on 13 specific areas in 12 communities that have significant foreclosure problems. LISC is one of 54 organizations statewide to apply funds resulting from a national foreclosure settlement that state attorneys general negotiated with the nation's largest lenders.
Additionally, LISC Chicago received a $665,000 grant through Get in Chicago, in which leaders from local government, business, community groups, educational institutions and foundations have come together to develop a coordinated plan to improve safety in neighborhoods across the city. LISC will implement safety strategies in up to eight neighborhoods.
Knight Foundation funds "bilingual bridges" for open gov
LISC Chicago and its neighborhood partners were among the winners of new grants from the Knight Foundation on June 24 as it announced its News Challenge Open Gov awards. The Chicago work will provide new resources for engagement and training of residents in the Englewood and Pilsen communities, and spread the learnings through LISC's Data Friday series of peer-to-peer workshops. See the presentation.
Does neighborhood planning matter?
In the post-industrial Midwest, Chicago has fared a lot better than Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis and other rust belt cities. In their engaging new book, Planning Chicago, Roosevelt University's D. Bradford Hunt and Jon B. DeVries discuss why, and what planning had to do with it. Or didn't. LISC Chicago's New Communities Program is given special notice.
"Expanding and refining LISC's New Communities Program offers the best chance to bring coherent and comprehensive planning to Chicago's struggling neighborhoods," they write. "As a model of structured yet inclusive planning, the NCP builds capacity, empowers local actors, and balances vision with readily attainable goals."
CNDA applications available
Applications for the 20th Anniversary Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design are now being accepted. All applications are due on September 12, 2013. Winners will be announced at the CNDA ceremony on February 20, 2014 at the Chicago Hilton.
Quad at 10, looking forward and back
Ten years ago, the Quad Communities Development Corporation was formed to enlist residents, businesses, elected officials and other people and institutions in North Kenwood-Oakland, Douglas, and Grand Boulevard to look hard at their neighborhoods, identify what’s needed to make them better, document those recommendations, and then get on with the difficult business of transforming plans into reality. Since then, the group's come a long way. See how...
Buying in to SSAs
Special Service Areas can be a tough sell, but the districts LISC helps create have proven a welcome boost to local business strips. SSA districts are created by a municipal ordinance that empowers each to impose a small property tax levy. That levy can then fund a variety of improvements such as sidewalk and street cleanup, and technical assistance to help building owners apply for loans and grants to improve the look of their storefronts. Here's how they work.
College planning starts in middle school
Middle school isn’t too soon to start thinking about college. That was the message of Ames Middle School’s first annual College and Career Day earlier this year, open to all Logan Square parents and students. Representatives from area colleges turned out for the event, capping off a year of Elev8 activities aimed at helping Ames families understand the range of college options and how to finance them. Here's the story.
Grants and loans
In the second quarter of 2013, LISC Chicago made grants and loans totaling more than $955,000 to support community rebuilding efforts. See some examples. Meanwhile, an earlier LISC predevelopment loan of $138,000 to Heartland Housing is bearing fruit, as construction has begun on the Center on Halsted, a $26 million, 79-unit affordable senior apartment building that will welcome all tenants, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Key tax credit programs at risk
Two federal programs - the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit - which have attracted $14 billion in private investment to build affordable housing, restore commercial and retail districts, and create or preserve 160,000 jobs, are imperiled in Congress. LISC CEO Michael Rubinger, in an opinion piece in the New York Times, describes why they should be preserved.