Friday, January 15, 2010

NHC 2009 "Pioneering Housing Strategies" Award Finalist: Metropolitan Planning Council

NHC Member Partner the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) was selected as a 2009 NHC “Pioneering Housing Strategies” Award finalist for its Interjurisdictional Collaboratives Initiative, which creates systemic efficiencies in promoting equitable and sustainable housing opportunities in the Chicago metropolitan region.

The program was borne out of MPC’s partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC) – a forum of more than 270 mayors in metropolitan Chicago – with whom MPC has been partnering since 2001 on a regional Housing Action Agenda.

After establishing an extensive toolbox, and piloting these tools in a number of towns, all parties realized that each and every town could never attain the technical expertise and political capacity to develop and implement needed housing policies and programs. Furthermore, major housing challenges do not adhere to municipal borders. In 2007, MPC and MMC responded to this by pursuing an interjurisdictional collaboration by bringing partners together to build trust and create mechanisms for a cooperative effort.

The interjurisdictional initiative began with simultaneous Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) discussions with five towns in the North Shore and five others in the Northwest suburbs. These two interjurisdictional clusters, both in affluent parts of the region, were seeking to increase their housing options affordable to local workers and others shut out of the market.

In late 2008, MPC and MMC launched two additional interjurisdictional efforts in the South and West Suburbs, which both have been devastated by foreclosures. For these hard-hit suburbs, the goal was to connect housing to broader community and economic development plans, and build the necessary capacity for successful implementation.

Over the past year, the program has succeeded in accomplishing EAH-related goals in areas such as the North Shore. For example, Lake Forest donated land near its transit stop to be competitive for a 2009 Low Income Housing Tax Credit award that was subsequently approved.

And, in October 2008, leaders from the South and West clusters convened with the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to formalize their efforts to be competitive for NSP funding. Rather than competing for state and county NSP resources, towns in these two clusters formed well-functioning, interjurisdictional entities to submit joint proposals for NSP. Their coordinated efforts proved successful. On November 4, Cook County awarded the two clusters more than $12 million in NSP funding. Both are pursuing additional funding at this time to further fulfill their goals.

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