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Friend of the Neighborhoods: Jack Markowski, Commissioner of Housing, Chicago Department of Housing

Throughout his career, Jack Markowski has been devoted to strengthening communities. He earned his first stripes as a community organizer in the South Shore neighborhood where he worked with the South Shore Commission to rid the area of prostitution and drugs, focusing on the then-notorious Thunderbird Hotel. Following graduate school at the University of Oregon at Portland, he returned to Chicago, informed by the 'livable urban planning' ideas emerging in the west, and became executive director of the Edgewater Community Council. Under his nearly decade long leadership, from 1981 to 1990, the ECC stimulated redevelopment of that community, winning more than $50 million in investment and renewal of the Winthrop-Kenmore corridor and reversing a long cycle of decline in the densely populated neighborhood. Mr. Markowski then served as the first executive director for the North West Housing Partnership, devoted to increasing the supply of affordable housing in the suburbs in an era of unprecedented job growth in the region.

In 1992 Mr. Markowski joined the City of Chicago's Department of Housing, where he has served as the Department's Commissioner since 1999, overseeing the expenditure of some $300 million annually in support of affordable housing development. Markowski has been more than a steward, however. He has been instrumental in the development and implementation of DOH's widely acclaimed five-year affordable housing plans; the creation of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, The Illinois Donations Tax Credit, and the Chicago Partnership for Affordable Neighborhoods; the aggressive utilization of resources to expand the city's affordable housing supply; and legislation to stem the tide of predatory lending. As a result, over the past nine years, DOH has been able to provide over $2 billion to support the development or preservation of some 90,000 units of affordable housing in the City of Chicago.

For his many years of personal and professional commitment to the city and its communities, Jack Markowski is well recognized as this year's Friend of the Neighborhoods.