From left, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Kim Ulbrich, executive director of Community Partners for Affordable Housing; and Janice Goldblatt, president of the Board of CPAH.                                          RoundTable photo

On March 24, Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) held an open house at 1620 Washington St. to celebrate the completion of the apartment building there that CPAH bought out of foreclosure and completely rehabbed. The building contains five affordable rental units.

CPAH, a non-profit organization headquartered in Highland Park, uses a land trust model that enables it to keep the homes it acquires affordable to successive renters and buyers on a permanent basis. CPAH currently has about 75 single-family homes, town homes and apartments in its inventory. Citizens’ Lighthouse Community Land Trust, an Evanston-based organization that used the land trust model, blended into CPAH about two years ago.

Several years ago, CPAH partnered with the City of Evanston to secure a $1.5 million grant from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to acquire and rehabilitate at least 10 foreclosed properties in Evanston. The grant was made from funds recovered by the Attorney General’s Office in a settlement of a case brought against mortgage banks, alleging that they engaged in fraudulent practices in servicing loans and in bringing foreclosure actions.

About $577,000 of the $1.5 million grant was used to acquire and rehab the apartment building at 1620 Washington St. The City of Evanston provided an additional $300,000 through HOME funds, and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) provided $10,000.

In addition to the five-flat at 1620 Washington, there are three other completed homes and two in progress in Evanston that are part of the Attorney General’s grant, Amy Rosenfeld Kaufman, Director of Community Relations and Development at CPAH, told the RoundTable.  CPAH also has five other affordable housing units in Evanston, said Ms. Kaufman. 

“Each home not only provides safe, stable housing, but reintroduces a deteriorating property into the neighborhood as an asset,” said Kim Ulbrich, Executive Director of CPAH.

Ms. Ulbrich said the previous tenants in the building at 1620 Washington St. asked CPAH to get involved in 2013 because the building was in foreclosure. Two units will be rented to households whose income is below 80% of the Area Median Income, and three will be rented to households whose income is below 60% of the AMI.

Ms. Ulbrich said the tenants are hard-working, many are single parents, and many are long-time residents of Evanston. She said one is a truck driver, one a grocery store clerk, one in food service. She thanked CPAH’s partners in the project, including the City of Evanston, ECF, and the developer Brinshore Development. 

“Affordable housing is a basic human need,” said CPAH Board President Janice Goldblatt. “We are thrilled that Attorney General Madigan understands how hard it is for some to secure safe, decent affordable housing in the community, and that her foresight allowed CPAH and Brinshore to create this amazing affordable housing opportunity.” 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who attended the open house, said her office made a major effort to go after mortgage banks that allegedly engaged in fraudulent foreclosure and mortgage servicing practices, and was able to dedicate a total of $70 million for housing counseling services and relief efforts for Illinois communities that were hit the hardest by foreclosures.

Attorney General Madigan said she recognized that obtaining funding to develop affordable housing is complex and a group effort and said she was glad to be part of the financing puzzle. She thanked Ms. Ulbrich, the Board of CPAH, the City of Evanston, ECF and Brinshore for their efforts.

 “I am very happy to play a role. I only brought a little bit to the table,” Attorney General Madigan said.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said earlier in the day she had made a presentation to a small group of third- through eighth-graders and was quizzed by a student, who asked, “Have you ever done anything you’re proud of?” The Mayor said, “Yes. We’ve developed at lot of affordable housing in Evanston.”

“Evanston is wonderful because of its diversity, and we want to maintain that diversity,” the Mayor added. “Affordable housing is necessary to do that.”