I’ve been honored to serve on the Advisory Committee with such dedicated and talented professionals. As I reflect on how diligently this group has worked under your leadership to attract, evaluate and recommend the most high impact initiatives, I am particularly struck by three things:
One, you kept all eyes on the ball:
As hard as you and your talented team of lawyers fought alongside HUD and the U.S. Attorney General to GET the precious dollars made available from the National Foreclosure Settlement, you have worked equally hard to GIVE these resources to high-performing organizations and public-private partnerships serving neighborhoods, homeowners and renters. Your leadership, thoughtful questions and high standards inspired us all throughout this process. Your dedication to use 100% of the National Foreclosure Settlement funds allocated to IL for foreclosure-related activities is highly commendable.
Two, you demanded both practical and innovative solutions:
On behalf of HUD Secretary Donovan, I want to congratulate you for your focus on promoting resilient and sustainable collaborations. More specifically, we applaud the way you are using this flexible funding source to help local leaders design programs that will not only help IL communities today, but will remain impactful long after this funding source is depleted. When I look afresh at the awards you are making today, I am pleased that they reflect robust lessons learned at HUD from programs such as the Sustainable Communities Initiative and Choice Neighborhoods. Our most inspiring success stories, some of them right here in Illinois, are the result of complex partnerships able to do more than improve housing, but also support people and transform neighborhoods. This requires a range of funders, public and private entities working together across traditional geographic boundaries and in an interdisciplinary way. Your awards to groups like Rock Island Economic Growth, the City of Chicago’s Micro Market Recovery Program, West Cook’s IFF initiative and Mid Central Community Action reflect the inter-disciplinary and inter-jurisdictional solutions needed to combat the ripple effects of the foreclosure crisis. And these awardsare just a sampling of such partnerships supported through these dollars.
Three, you are investing in capacity building.
The foreclosure crisis has not only been hurtful to families, neighborhoods and communities, but also to organizations historically serving them. While some have had to close their doors, others have risen to the challenge. As a former Housing Finance Agency Director and State Legislator, I am particularly attuned to the reality that today’s programs do not always address tomorrow’s challenges. So enlightened policymakers and funders must find ways to promote the resiliency, sustainability and flexibility of local partners. You picked a strong team of experts to help you do just that. You have Woodstock Institute and the DePaul Institute of Housing Studies helping awardees access the best data to guide their work. while helping you track the neighborhood impacts of these awards. You’ve tapped housing counseling, real estate, planning and organizational experts who can provide training and materials to all awardees to ensure consistent quality standards, while also providing individualized technical assistance to awardees needing specialized support. You’ve even asked fair housing and supportive housing experts to ensure that these foreclosure response strategies promote fair and inclusive communities – a very important goal
Thank you for including me today and for asking me to serve as an Advisor to this effort. On behalf of HUD, I pledge our ongoing support of this historic $70 million investment, which will certainly leverage even more public and private sector resources for Illinois communities.