On June 4th, 220 government, foundation, financial, real estate, and community leaders participated in Mercy Housing’s fifth annual community development “think tank” at the University Club of Chicago. The event highlighted emerging opportunities and engaged participants in small group discussions to create practical solutions to address the foreclosure crisis, create affordable housing, and provide services enabling thousands of people to live in hope.
Charles Woodyard, CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), set the stage for the event with an overview of the CHA’s Plan Forward: Communities That Work.
“It is a rethinking, a broader approach to how the Chicago Housing Authority does business moving forward,” shared Woodyard. “We are going to try to invest in communities, not just housing.”
Julie Hamos, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, discussed the implications of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, nursing home rebalancing, Coordinated Care Entities, and the role for supportive housing providers.
“Redesigning the Medicaid delivery system could and should involve affordable housing providers,” noted Hamos. “The goal is an integrated delivery system with care coordination especially for those with special needs.”
Following the opening remarks, participants engaged in small group discussions on a variety of topics, including:
- Using REITs and private equity to preserve multifamily housing;
- Partnership opportunities with Public Housing Authorities;
- Why housing matters: measuring the impact of affordable housing;
- Raising capital to purchase distressed mortgages;
- Creating a new lease-to-own pathway to homeownership;
- Medicaid expansion, Coordinated Care Entities, and supportive housing;
- Aligning hospital and community development strategic goals;
- Improving the financial capabilities of residents;
- Partnerships and funding to support positive youth development;
- Designing healthy housing and encouraging healthy resident lifestyles;
- Lowering the cost to build and operate housing;
- Homebuyer purchase assistance for newly rehabbed homes;
- Utilizing purchase rehab loans for neighborhood stabilization; and
- Building a marketing network.
These small group discussions will help Mercy Housing improve the effectiveness of current programs and identify opportunities for new initiatives. “There were a lot of great ideas born out of this event in the previous years, such as the Mortgage Resolution Fund and 180° Properties,” said Mercy Housing Lakefront President, Cindy Holler. “We think this year’s event will produce similar results.”