ULI Chicago News

Chicago’s Troubled Buildings Initiative: Building Stable and Safe Blocks for Families

This post, in our series featuring Chicago’s Troubled Buildings Initiative (TBI), winner of the 2016 ULI Larson Housing Award, focuses on a block of single-family homes in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood that was successfully rehabilitated using TBI.

West Humboldt Park is one of the designated areas within the Chicago’s Micro Market Recovery Program (MMRP) where the City is working with a partner agency, the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), to facilitate the rehabilitation and reuse of vacant, deteriorating homes. NHS serves as a receiver for 1-4 unit residential buildings being rehabilitated through TBI. In Humboldt Park, NHS acquired six vacant homes on the 500 block of Central Park Avenue – three through court-ordered forfeiture, one through a receiver’s lien foreclosure and two as direct purchases using a line of credit made available especially for MMRP areas.

As evident from the “before” images below, the homes were in a state of terrible disrepair and required significant work to clean-up, stabilize, and secure them. The stabilization work was completed by NHS and funded completely by TBI. Following stabilization, NHS conveyed the homes to responsible owners who have since rehabilitated them – three homes were acquired by Childserv, a local non-profit organization, to be used as affordable housing for veterans with children, and two were purchased by lower-income owner occupants that received loan assistance available in MMRP areas. One of the homes was deteriorated beyond repair and had to be demolished. But with the help of the Cook County Land Bank, the property was cleared of back taxes and other liens, and sold to the neighboring home-owner for use as her side-yard.

Clearly, many City programs, departments, partner agencies and non-profit organizations came together to transform the blighted 500 block of Central Park into a stable block that now provides high-quality, safe housing for families. TBI, by allowing community-based organizations such as NHS to act as receivers and by providing resources necessary for stabilizing and securing deteriorating/ vacant buildings, continues to be an important tool in neighborhood revitalization.

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