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$15 Million Fund To Help South Shore Condo, Co-Op Owners Fix Up Housing Approved By Council

The program will be piloted in a Crandon Avenue building to make repairs and stabilize the homeowner association’s finances. But Obama CBA organizers have criticized the move.

An apartment building in the South Shore neighborhood on Dec. 6, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH SHORE — A $15 million pilot program to support homeowners associations and residents of shared-ownership housing in South Shore is getting off the ground.

The South Shore Condo Preservation Pilot Program will provide grants and loans to South Shore residents living in condos, co-ops and other forms of shared-ownership housing. The City Council passed an ordinance to create the program without discussion Wednesday.

The fund will be capped at $5 million per year for three years, while grants and loans would be capped at $50,000 per housing unit. Funding would only be available to buildings where at least half the units are owner-occupied.

Eligible buildings must meet both of the following requirements:

  • Residents in the owner-occupied units have an income at or below 120 percent of the area median income, or $125,040 for a four-person household. If that isn’t met, the average appraised value of owner-occupied units must be affordable to residents at or below 120 percent of the area median income.
  • At least 25 percent of the owner-occupied units are owned by residents who have lived in the building for 10 years or more. If that isn’t met, the building must struggle with vacancies, code violations or other “issues of governance” that cause the building to be “in distress” and put residents at risk of displacement.

The ordinance classifies buildings that receive pilot program funding as “affordable housing.”

The preservation program would be supported by the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, which provides funds to build, rehab and preserve affordable housing using fees paid by developers who don’t include affordable units in their projects.

The program is set to be piloted at 6929-39 S. Crandon Ave., where the city funding will fix up the building and stabilize its homeowner association’s finances. Officials have not finalized how much money that property will receive, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said.

“This is a wonderful pilot, and I look forward to continuing the work to make sure that we can do this citywide,” Hairston said at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Carol Adams — the South Shore Works founder who said she pressed Hairston and Lightfoot for years to create a fund for neighborhood condos and co-ops — lives in the Crandon Avenue building set to receive the first chunk of funding.

The loans and grants will help fund the building’s “very costly” repairs, which are typically paid for through special assessments that are “problematic” for residents — particularly older people on fixed incomes, Adams said last week.

“I call this the ‘Dr. Adams Save Our Homes’ piece of legislation,” Lightfoot said Wednesday.

Housing organizers with the Obama CBA Coalition criticized the city’s decision to fund the pilot program with existing affordable housing funds at a City Hall press conference ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

“When the first thing announced for South Shore takes money from an affordable housing pot and gives it to condo owners, that doesn’t sound very promising in terms of their seriousness about doing something for the most vulnerable folks in the neighborhood,” coalition member and South Shore resident Brandon Patterson said last week.

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