Friday, July 31, 2009

An Expression of Thanks from an Amateur Blogger

As the policy associate for the National Housing Conference (NHC), I have spent the past year reaching out to housing advocates to share their expertise for guest entries on NHC’s “Open House” Blog.

Through countless emails and phone calls, I accessed federal, state and local organizations that share a common quest in providing affordable housing to communities in need. In doing so, I witnessed the evolution of a blog that contributes to an ongoing dialogue about housing and community development policy and allows advocates to share knowledge and expertise with a larger audience.

Moreover, “Open House” encourages the use of new and social media tools that expand the communications function within the housing world. For instance, since NHC’s blog launch, we have also experimented with an array of networking options via the internet including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, among others, thanks to our outstanding communications team.

To be honest, I knew very little about the blogosphere before accepting this position at NHC. After navigating through a maze of html coding and receiving friendly coaching from my fellow NHC bloggers, I soon realized that I was hooked. NHC’s “Open House” Blog showed me the potential social media tools have by its ability to translate complex issues, such as the foreclosure crisis, into a tangible product for all to understand.

While I typically spend my time searching for guest bloggers to contribute to “Open House,” today the tables have turned. Upon the eve of my departure from NHC, it is my privilege to write a blog entry and bid adieu to my friends and colleagues who I have been so fortunate to work alongside in this effort.

Although I am saying farewell to NHC for now, I know that my work with this organization will continue through a shared goal in securing adequate, decent housing for all. Words cannot accurately express the gratitude I have developed for this organization and its talented staff.

Thank you, NHC, for your past accomplishments and for the years of future work that you will undoubtedly produce.

For the past year, Megan Richardson has served as NHC policy associate and blogger extraordinaire. Her last day with NHC will be today. Megan is moving to Capitol Hill where she will continue working on housing issues.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guest Blogger Jaimie Ross: Implement the Federal Vision for Housing Opportunity at the Local Level

As one of those fortunate enough to have participated in the "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy" in Chicago, I congratulate NHC, the Center for Housing Policy and its partners for putting together an extraordinary event. Bravo!

The conference was chocked full of housing policy and practice experts excited about the new leadership at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the abundance of initiatives that give us reason to believe the people in charge really “get it.” HUD Secretary Donovan spoke about the Sustainability Initiative and the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. HUD, at its highest level, understands the importance of creating affordable housing in mixed income neighborhoods with access to public transit, economic and educational opportunity.

Our challenge outside of Washington, DC, is to translate the wisdom at the highest level of the Administration into change at the state and local level. The development or redevelopment of housing affordable to low-income people in areas of opportunity will not happen without local inclusionary housing policies (land use regulations) that provide for long term or permanent affordability.

Local housing advocates would be mightily assisted in persuading local jurisdictions to adopt inclusionary housing policies if the adoption of an inclusionary housing ordinance resulted in an increase in federal funding to the community. For example, if a community were to receive additional Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), or transportation funding provided it had adopted a mandatory inclusionary housing ordinance, the adoption of that ordinance would likely meet with much less resistance.

Best practices for inclusionary housing policies were highlighted at the National Inclusionary Housing Conferences put together by NHC, the Innovative Housing Institute, PolicyLink, and BPI (for 2005 and 2007 see NIHC). Those policies improve as the National Inclusionary Housing Movement continues to evolve.

Incentives from the federal level could open the door for the adoption of local ordinances that reflect best practices from around the globe. The result: more equitable and long term sustainable development; smart growth and new urbanism that actually deliver on the promise of incorporating affordability.

Jaimie Ross is the director of Affordable Housing at 1000 Friends of Florida, a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1986 to serve as Florida's growth management "watchdog."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NHC Announces Recent Election of New NHC Chairman, Dan Nissenbaum

Yesterday, NHC announced the recent election of Dan Nissenbaum as its new chairman. With more than 20 years of experience in the affordable housing and community development industry, Nissenbaum has developed a keen knowledge of community development and housing issues. He is the chief operating officer for the Urban Investment Group (UIG), a division of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, where he manages community development lending and investing programs. As chairman of NHC, Nissenbaum was preceded by Helen Kanovsky, who moved to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to serve as general counsel.

Nissenbaum fully supports NHC’s commitment to addressing the current housing crisis through a range of solutions, including identifying policies focused on restoring the flow of private capital into low- and moderate-income communities, and stabilizing the secondary mortgage market so that government sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can continue to fulfill their important role in helping families to purchase homes at a lower cost. Beyond the housing crisis, he supports NHC key goals like making the important connections between housing and other issues – such as linking affordable homes with transit-oriented development and employment opportunities.

In addition, Nissenbaum has several personal priorities as NHC chairman, which include raising the organization’s visibility by strengthening every aspect of its operations, from building membership and financial capacity to, ultimately, helping ensure that NHC continues its vital role as an effective and leading housing policy organization.

To learn more about Nissenbaum's new role, please read the Full Press Release.

Friday, July 24, 2009

HUD Secretary Donovan Cites Successful DC Area HOPE VI Models for Choice Neighborhoods Initiative

At the Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke about a few program proposals that are in developmental stages at the agency, including the recently introduced Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

In an effort to further address this issue, Donovan joined former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros at the National Press Club on July 14, in Washington, DC, to highlight the release of a new Brookings Institution book From Despair to Hope, which was co-edited by Cisneros.

The book recounts the history and rationale of HUD’s HOPE VI program, which was initiated in 1993 to redevelop blighted public housing projects and help revitalize the surrounding communities. The book also examines the successes and shortcomings of the HOPE VI program, providing an instructive look to the future for HUD’s redevelopment and community revitalization activities.

Donovan discussed how HUD could expand and improve upon HOPE VI, and how these efforts are reflected in HUD’s proposed successor program to HOPE VI, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which was introduced in May as part of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request.

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative goes beyond the redevelopment of outdated, physically deteriorated public housing communities, which was the focus of HOPE VI. Choice Neighborhoods targets comprehensive community revitalization efforts that incorporate early childhood education, family economic self-sufficiency, green building and energy efficiency components. In addition to public housing, the Initiative will also target privately-owned properties assisted by HUD. The initiative includes a request for $250 million in the FY 2010 budget, which is a $130 million increase over the HOPE VI budget for 2009.

Donovan also emphasized how potential projects under the Initiative could be modeled after some of the most successful HOPE VI projects, which tended to take a comprehensive approach to revitalizing the surrounding communities – including the development of new, improved schools; creation of parks and other recreational spaces; and better transportation features that allow residents better access to jobs and services. “It's not a coincidence,” Donovan said, “that the most successful mixed-income, mixed use projects looked beyond the front gates of the new development.”

While Donovan cited multiple model projects across the country, he went into particular detail about the HOPE VI revitalization efforts that have taken place in Washington, DC’s Washington Highlands neighborhood. These efforts represented both the success of the HOPE VI program and its limitations. Although some of the neighborhood’s distressed public housing communities were eligible for HOPE VI funding, other communities – demonstrating just as great a need – did not qualify for program funding, simply because they were subsidized by different programs at HUD.

Donovan commented on how this evidenced the need for an improved version of HOPE VI: “That's why we've introduced our Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, to help public, private and nonprofit partners extend neighborhood transformation efforts beyond public housing - as they are already doing on their own, in spite of the fact that their government is often a barrier.”

To learn more about the model projects in Washington Highlands and other nearby Washington, DC, neighborhoods, please view the documents below. Additionally, we invite you to use the comment section below to share examples of other HOPE VI success stories that can serve as models for the new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative.

Model Neighborhoods in Washington, DC:

Washington Highlands Neighborhood

Small Neighborhood Concentration of Subsidized Housing: The Case of Washington Highlands
U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research
Release Date: December 1994
Download PDF

Regional Report: Wheeler Terrace Beats the Odds
Affordable Housing Finance
Release Date: January 2009

Wheeler Creek Estates: History and Project Summary
District of Columbia Housing Authority
Download PDF

The Overlook at Oxon Run: Project Summary
Community Preservation and Development Corporation
Download PDF

Congress Heights Neighborhood

Henson Ridge: History and Project Summary
District of Columbia Housing Authority
Download PDF

The Magnolia at Asheford Overview

The Villages of Parklands Fact Sheet
William C. Smith & Co.

The Townhomes at Oxon Creek Fact Sheet
William C. Smith & Co.

The Shops at Park Village Fact Sheet
William C. Smith & Co.

Archer Park Fact Sheet
William C. Smith & Co.

Park Vista Fact Sheet
William C. Smith & Co.

Oxon Run Neighborhood

Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Campus (THEARC) Project Fact Sheet
William C. Smith & Co.
Download PDF

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NHC Regional Affiliate NYHC Launches New Web Site Focused on "All Things Housing"

Yesterday, the New York Housing Conference (NYHC), a regional affiliate of NHC, launched its new online home,

NYHC is a broad-based coalition that advocates for decent, affordable housing for all New Yorkers. It promotes strong housing policies, adequate funding, practical regulations, and increased public awareness of the need for and benefits of affordable housing.

The new site is intended to help NYHC accomplish these goals by serving as a one-stop-shop for up-to-date news and information focused on "all things housing" for all of New York, and beyond. From the home page, visitors can easily navigate to news alerts, a full library of informational resources, a newsroom, and a “how-to” guide to effective advocacy. Additionally, "Join Us," and "Get Involved" are also key themes, with simple online forms for those who would like to apply to NYHC’s new Young Leadership Council, or make a contribution – essential support for NYHC’s housing policies and programs in New York City, Albany, NY, and Washington, DC.

Regarding the development of the new site, NYHC CEO Judith A. Calogero said, "At a time when the development of affordable housing is a top national priority for economic recovery, we are offering a powerful, robust information resource for all things related to housing. The Internet home of NYHC will be a broad based knowledge source. It is designed for those seeking a springboard to grassroots advocacy, or for the expert professional who requires the latest information on housing policy and regulations. The information will be just a click away."

To learn more about the launch of the new Web site, please read the full Press Release.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

California City Moves Closer to Incorporating Transit-Oriented Development

Among the topics discussed at the Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy were those related to ways to promote transit-oriented development.

A recent San Jose Mercury News article details the steps forward Pittsburgh, CA is taking to implement these initiatives through a new planned eBART station. Earlier this month, decision makers in the city approved environmental documents for the Railroad Avenue Specific Plan, which would make more efficient use of the area around Railroad Avenue and Highway 4 by incorporating high-density housing, shops, parks and public space near transit. The area would also have better links between the eBART station and other modes of transportation.

As part of this plan, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission requires 2,200 housing units be built within a half-mile of the eBART station. Currently, there are about 1,600 units built, and the eBART project is expected to be complete by 2015.

For more information about the plans in Pittsburg, CA, please Read the Full Article. Additionally, if you would like to learn more about ways to incorporate transit-oriented development in your community, please check out the resources from the Solutions for Working Families sessions on “The Intersection of Housing, Land-Use and Transportation Policy” and "Using Transit-Oriented Development to Expand Housing Opportunities."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Administration Hosts Webinars on ARRA Funding Guidelines

The Administration is holding a series of seven online forums to address new reporting guidelines and requirements for program recipients receiving funding from the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

In keeping with the Administration's goal for increased oversight and transparency in regards to federal spending, these webinars are intended to provide additional detail on what recipients are required to report to the public.

For additional information and to access the schedule for the series please go here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Full Suite of "Solutions for Working Families" Conference Materials Now Available

Did you learn about foreclosure prevention, rental housing preservation, and other housing solutions in Chicago? Or miss it and want to learn more? Well, we've got good news! "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy" materials are now available online, including PowerPoints from speakers, event audio and photos! To access these resources, please Visit This Link.

Guest Blogger Jim Gray: Strategies for Promoting Long-Term Affordable Homeownership Stretch Beyond Chicago to East and West Coast Communities

Without question, Chicago’s Highland Park Community Land Trust has done great and innovative work in the area of sustainable homeownership – our hats are off to them as an excellent model for others to follow.

There are also several other promising examples of shared equity homeownership being pursued across the country. This includes the Chicago Community Land Trust, which represents a large scale effort to promote long-term affordable homeownership.

In addition, Janice Morrissey, the director of housing initiatives for the new South Suburban Housing Collaborative – formed by 18 towns – is working with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the Metropolitan Planning Council to pursue mechanisms for all kinds of housing activities “across municipal boundaries.” In addition, the DLA Piper law firm has agreed to provide pro bono assistance to the Collaborative, developing shared equity models that all participating towns could utilize.

As an example from the East, the Diamond State Community Land Trust represents the State of Delaware’s effort to create a permanently affordable stock of homeownership. Delaware is using its Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding for this purpose. We understand that originally Delaware required that any property in which the state invests more than $60,000 of NSP funding had to remain permanently affordable

From the West, the City of Oakland, working with the Urban Strategies Council, has allocated all of the City’s NSP funding available to serve populations at above 50 percent of the Area Median Income, to create permanently affordable homeownership, also through the creation of a new community land trust.

These are just a few examples of the growing number of communities who understand that over the long-term they will do a better job of stabilizing their neighborhoods and create many more wealth building opportunities by pursuing strategies that promote long-term affordable homeownership.

Jim Gray is vice president of NCB Capital Impact in Arlington, VA. The organization’s mission is to provide solutions, based on cooperative principles that empower underserved communities, to address the problems poverty creates in America.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First-Ever "Live at the Forum" Event Showcases New Report About the Impacts of Foreclosure

Today from 2-4 p.m. EDT, the Urban Institute's G. Thomas Kingsley, Robin Smith, and David Price, will discuss their new report, entitled The Impacts of Foreclosures on Families and Communities. In addition to detailing the report's findings, this two-part event will allow you to get real-time answers to your questions from the report’s authors by logging on to the Forum.
  • Part I: Hear About the Report – This "Live at the Forum" event will begin at 2 p.m. EDT with a 30-minute conference call, where major findings from the report will be presented. The call-in number is (605) 475-4850 and the access code is 890983#.
  • Part II: Interact With the Authors – Immediately following the call, from 2:30 – 4 p.m. EDT, authors of the report will be online to answer your questions on the Forum. To participate in Part II of this event, you must be a registered user of the Forum. If you would like to become a member, please Sign Up Here.

About the Report
The Impacts of Foreclosures on Families and Communities details what is known about how foreclosures adversely affect households and their neighborhoods – from children and the elderly to public safety and local property tax revenues. The report, a comprehensive resource for local officials, advocates, and concerned laypeople, also looks at policies, programs, and response strategies to prevent or mitigate the fallout.

A second Urban Institute publication, The Impacts of Foreclosures on Families and Communities: A Primer, provides a handy convenient scan of the research and policy landscape. Both reports were funded by the Open Society Institute.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Project Shows Where Cities Rank in Terms of Sustainability

Earlier this month, the Natural Resources Defense Council launched its "Smarter Cities" project, which ranks small, medium and large cities in terms of sustainability through measures such as air quality, access to public transportation, green building initiatives and more.

The Web site ranks more than 250 U.S. cities total, with Seattle, WA, topping the list as the most sustainable large city in the nation. Chicago, IL, the host city of the Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, came in at number 10. Specifically, the windy city received high marks for its green building practices, good transportation system, participation in environmental standards, use of green space and recycling initiatives. Several of the workshops and sessions at Solutions for Working Families highlighted the use of these strategies to make communities more livable, both now, and in the future.

According to the data, these are the top 15 most sustainable large cities in the nation:
1. Seattle, WA
2. San Francisco, CA
3. Portland, OR
4. Oakland, CA
5. San José, CA
6. Austin, TX
7. Sacramento, CA
8. Boston, MA
9. Denver, CO
10. Chicago, IL
11. San Diego, CA
12. New York, NY
13. Los Angeles, CA
14. Dallas, TX
15. Columbus, OH

Additionally, Madison, WI was named the most sustainable medium-sized city, and Bellingham, WA came at number one among the small cities surveyed.

To learn more about how the cities were ranked, you can visit the interactive CityGrid application, which allows you to see how the cities stacked up against the different measures.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NHC Welcomes New Member Partners from "Solutions for Working Families"

During the Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, NHC welcomed several new Member Partners. These organizations, ready to unite with other industry stakeholders to proactively tackle the issues discussed at the conference, include: City of Savannah, Georgia; Community Builders, Inc., Chicago; Housing Action Coalition of Rhode Island; New Community Vision; and North Carolina Housing Coalition. In addition, we welcomed two new individual memberships representing Home, Inc. and Virginia Community Capital, as part of two special NHC-sponsored drawings at the conference.

NHC thanks these new Member Partners for their support and looks forward to working with them to help solve some of our nation's most pressing housing challenges. If you are interested in joining NHC, you can also Become a Member.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Solutions for Working Families" Photos Now Available

From June 28-30, NHC and the Center for Housing Policy hosted the Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, which which focused on innovative housing solutions at the state and local level.

The conference, which featured a great lineup of keynote speakers, brought together over 400 policymakers, advocates and practitioners from around the nation, enabling participants to identify policies that have been successful in other communities to see what could work in theirs.

Pictures from Solutions for Working Families are now available. In addition to the pictures of the keynote speakers below, a full set of photos from the event is available on NHC's Flickr Page.

Carol Coletta, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities and host and producer of the nationally syndicated public radio show “Smart City," spoke at the Opening Plenary on Sunday, June 28.

Henry Cisneros, executive chairman of CityView, former Mayor of San Antonio and former HUD Secretary, delivered a keynote speech at a Special Plenary on day one of the conference.

Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, spoke at the Federal Policy Luncheon on Monday, June 29.

Shaun Donovan, secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, gave opening remarks at the Town Hall Plenary on Tuesday, June 30.

Town Hall Plenary speakers:
Bill Klein, American Planning Association
Nic Retsinas, Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies
Jeffrey Lubell, Center for Housing Policy
George McCarthy, Ford Foundation
Shelley Poticha, Reconnecting America

Town Hall Plenary in action.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chicago's Highland Park Neighborhood Seen as Model for Successful Shared Equity Homeownership Strategies

Innovative housing strategies that provide sustainable steps towards homeownership, such as shared equity homeownership, were among the topics covered at the Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy.

In particular, a recent article in the Chicago Tribune details a session at the conference focused on successful shared equity homeownership strategies in the Highland Park neighborhood of Chicago, specifically through the use of a community land trust. The session featured Rob Anthony, Highland Park Community Land Trust; Jim Gray, NCB Capital Impact; Rick Jacobus, Burlington Associates for Community Development; Councilwoman Terri Olian, City of Highland Park, Illinois; and Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr., City of Chicago, Illinois, 27th Ward.

The Highland Park Community Land Trust was created six years ago, and has completed 30 housing units thus far – enabling teachers, health care workers and city employees, among others, to live in the city in which they work.

Under this land trust model, homes are sold for 20 to 65 percent below market price, depending on how a buyer's household income compares with the area median income. The trust retains ownership of the land and leases it to the homeowner for $25 per month. When the homeowner moves, they can either sell the home back to the land trust, or alternatively, sell it to another income-eligible buyer under a formula that keeps the home affordable. The seller shares some portion in any appreciation of the property with the land trust; however, if the property has depreciated along with the market, the seller isn't affected as much because the home was sold to them for a below-market price.

Strategies such as these, which are gaining momentum in light of the current foreclosure crisis, are seen as a way to bridge the gap between renting and traditional homeownership, allowing individuals who may typically be priced out of an area to still build wealth through property appreciation.

"We need an approach that can allow people to move up more gradually, as their circumstances permit," said Jim Gray of NCB Capital Impact, a national nonprofit that provides financial services and technical assistance in the area of affordable housing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bruce Katz Emphasizes Opportunities to Shape the New Generation of Federal Housing Policy

On Monday, June 29, Bruce Katz, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute, delivered a keynote speech at the Federal Policy Luncheon at "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy."

His remarks, which focused on a new generation of housing policy, discussed five central elements of an emerging national policy, including:
  • The restoration of sanity, transparency, and fundamentals to mortgage finance and the process of home buying and homeownership;
  • A return to balance in housing policy, with attention and leadership and resources dedicated to making rental housing affordable in safe, quality communities;
  • The use of housing policy to advance communities of choice—where families can live close to decent schools, quality retail and decent amenities;
  • The positioning of housing as a vehicle for energy efficiency at the building scale and sustainable, transit friendly growth at the metropolitan scale; and
  • The renewal and transformation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) itself—to both lead and support the national response.
In addition to highlighting the initiatives of HUD, Katz also emphasized the rare opportunity policymakers and practitioners now have to "orchestrate a generational shift in federal housing policy—both in traditional housing legislation and action."

To learn more about Katz' remarks, please read his prepared Keynote Speech.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"One Story Up" Blog Focuses on Five Innovative Housing Solutions in Chicago

During last week's "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy," One Story Up, a Chicago-based blog, posted information about the city's innovative housing solutions, encouraging local residents – regardless of how familiar they are with the housing arena – to take a look at how housing policy has positively influenced their communities.

Megan Cottrell, author of the blog, jested that policy wonks shouldn't be the only ones "having all the fun," as Chicagoans should be up-to-date on the cutting-edge programs shaping their very own neighborhoods. Cottrell breaks down five core areas in which Chicago is leading the way for cities facing similar challenges – including the use of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds, initiatives to reconnect neighborhoods, and the pooling of housing department resources.

In particular, Cottrell highlights the work of the Metropolitan Planning Council for their part in the "Reconnecting America" campaign, which is an initiative to transform the way people interact with each other by making transit a priority.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chicago Sun-Times Blog "The Scoop from Washington" Highlights HUD Secretary Donovan's Remarks at Learning Conference

Lynn Sweet, columnist and Washington DC bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, highlighted U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan's special remarks at the "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy"on her "Scoop from Washington" blog.

Among other key topics, including the foreclosure crisis, Secretary Donovan spoke in detail about HUD's Transformation Initiative, which he said means "better research, evaluation, and accountability measures -- to figure out how we can do more with less and give the marketplace the information it needs to make informed choices."

"It means partnerships and collaboration with agencies, non-profits, and all levels of government. Too often, HUD hasn't been a catalyst for change - but a barrier to it," added Donovan.

He also emphasized that the ultimate goal of the initiative is a "comprehensive, balanced national housing policy that recognizes affordable rental opportunities are inseparable from sustainable growth."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Solutions for Working Families" Mobile Workshop: Cutting-Edge Green Developments in Chicago

Several mobile workshops at NHC and the Center for Housing Policy's "Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy" provided conference attendees with an opportunity to visit affordable yet innovative properties in the Chicago Metro area. The mobile workshops took a closer look at mixed-income housing, cutting-edge green developments and housing affordability in affluent communities.

The Margot and Harold Schiff Residences

The mobile workshop on cutting-edge green developments took participants to Chicago's Near North community. The area was home to the infamous Cabrini-Green public housing projects and a few of the original buildings still remain. Workshop participants toured The Margot and Harold Schiff Residences developed by Mercy Housing Lakefront, which is new construction that includes 96 units of permanent, supportive housing for the chronically homeless and very low income adults. The Schiff Residences is part of the city's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Green aspects of this innovative development include "Gray Water" waste water reclamation, which involves the capture of water from lavatories and showers -- after some filtering -- for the toilet flushing water. The building also has a reflective roof surface made of a light colored metal that reflects the heat energy ordinarily absorbed by conventional roofs. In addition, the building provides solar water heating that results in energy savings of about 30 percent for domestic hot water with roof collectors providing heat to an exchanger for the building's hot water supply.

Sankofa House

The mobile workshop also included a tour of the Sankofa House that was developed by the Sankofa Safe Child Initiative and the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago in the North Lawndale area. The building includes 58 units for youth between 18 to 23 years old who are aging out of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as well as low-income kinship families consisting of adults raising the children of close family members.

The Sankofa Safe Child Initiative has offices on site that provide supportive services, offer intergenerational building activities, and connect residents with community resources.

Earning a top-tier three-star certification from the Chicago Department of Housing's Green Development Program, the Sankofa House has wide-ranging sustainable features, including an eco-friendly elevator that uses 60 percent less energy than a hydraulic elevator, low flow plumbing fixtures that will save nearly 300 thousand gallons of water annually, and fixed sun shades on the southern windows to reduce heat gain in the summer.

In addition to the organizations that developed these innovative buildings, NHC and the Center for Housing Policy would like to sincerely thank CNT Energy and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago for helping to make this mobile workshop possible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

“Solutions for Working Families” Wiki Offers Detailed Information on How to Integrate and Implement Traditional and Web 2.0 Communications Strategies

The Solutions for Working Families: 2009 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, sponsored by NHC and the Center for Housing Policy, featured a session and in-depth post-conference workshop on communications strategies for building support for affordable homes.

Specifically, participants were provided with detailed information on how to integrate and implement both traditional and Web 2.0 media tools such as blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter in order to maximize the reach and effectiveness of affordable housing focused public awareness campaigns.

Panelists from the American Planning Association, Enterprise Community Partners and NHC outlined the importance of taking the time to develop and hone the key messages that serve as the framework for communications outreach, worked with participants on adapting the messages for online audiences, and provided hands-on experience with the various components of traditional, new and social media tools.

Please visit the “Solutions for Working Families” Communications Wiki today to learn more!