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The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award

When a crime-plagued and pest-ridden building at 5800 S. Michigan Ave. in Washington Park had its utilities shut off in 2008, an alliance of organizations – which had kept a collective eye on the building for years – sprang into action to save this irreplaceable property of 30 affordable apartments.

The organizations – including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the City of Chicago, Community Investment Corporation (CIC), Community Initiatives Inc. (CII), Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Shriver Center – worked swiftly to prevent losing valuable affordable rental space. Through regular community meetings, tenants participated in preserving their property, spurring a sense of pride and community intention.

In court proceedings, HUD and CII/CIC helped assign the building’s project-based subsidy contract to a receiver, a totally unprecedented and bold move by HUD. CII/CIC became the immediate receiver, while 5T Management – which specializes in property management – subsequently became permanent receiver and made basic repairs. Meanwhile, despite enormous risks, CII purchased the building’s mortgage from Fannie Mae, foreclosed on the property, and sold to 5T. With loans from CIC, 5T thoroughly rehabbed the building.

For the herculean feat of collaboratively and creatively preserving the building, 5T Management and CIC are the winners of this year’s Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award.