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Non Profit Development Group of the Year: Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc.

For more than a quarter of a century, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS) has been one of the city’s leaders in promoting and financing home- ownership opportunities for low and moderate-income Chicagoans. Currently focused in nine neighborhoods, though offering a menu of other programs citywide, NHS fosters the kind of personal, family investment that goes to the heart of a healthy community.

Under the leadership of Bruce Gottschall, NHS’s first and only executive director (who was recognized last year with CNDA’s Friend of the Neighborhoods Award), NHS has grown over these last 25 years from an idea to a well-recognized source for financing, technical assistance and community development. While not telling the whole story of NHS’s impact, the statistics are formidable. Since 1975, NHS has:

  • Served more than 130,000 clients
  • Funded more than $269 million in loans
  • Built and rehabbed over 22,000 units of housing
  • Invested more than $1 billion in the city’s neighborhoods.

Just as importantly, it is the way that NHS goes about its business that speaks to its impact on a neighborhood. Working with community advisory boards, NHS tries to understand the underlying dynamics that affect a family’s decision to invest or not to invest in a particular area. That might mean that NHS gets involved in other issues, like community security, or that it takes on a larger redevelopment role, in order to provide the kind of environment in which families will make one of the most important decisions in their lives — the decision to buy a home. NHS is also the "go-to" organization.

Recently, for example, NHS accepted the task (along with Hispanic Housing Development Corporation) of rehabbing and reselling FHA foreclosed and/ or abandoned homes in a number of communities throughout the city. This follows on the heels of several other initiatives, such as the city-sponsored TIF- NIP initiative in two South Side neighborhoods. NHS is known for its ability to get the job done and done well. NHS rekindles hope and determination in Chicago’s neighborhoods, house by house, block by block, for which it is recognized by the Allstate Award for Non- Profit Development Group of the Year.