City, Housing Authority, developer to rehab 40 homes
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org October 17, 2013 6:14PM
AHA Executive Director Keith Gregory shows some of the upgraded features in a property on the cities west side on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The AHA plans to renovate and update their scattered sites properties as current residents move out with fixtures and amenities commonly found in the private sector. | Brian Powers~Sun Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2013 6:34AM
AURORA — Part of a new joint initiative, the city and the Housing Authority will partner with a third party firm to redevelop 40 foreclosed homes into affordable rental housing, officials confirmed late Thursday.
Under the plan, Brinshore Development, a Northbrook-based development firm, will purchase and rehab 40 foreclosed homes in Aurora to house low-income veterans, seniors and people with disabilities, said Rick Guzman, city assistant chief of staff.
In 2012, the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force recommended the city move forward with a plan to repurpose foreclosed and vacant homes in the city. The task force opted to push a scattered-site housing approach over rebuilding of a more concentrated low-income public housing complex on the now-vacant Jericho Circle site on the city’s West Side.
The proposed redevelopment project was recently awarded $840,972 in federal low-income housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The credits are expected to generate $7 million to $8 million in capital for the rehab of the 40 homes, according to Keith Gregory, AHA executive director.
Aurora also plans to kick $524,000 in federal funding the city receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Gregory said the project signals a dedication on the part of the agency to provide high quality, affordable housing “while meeting the needs of some well-deserving families in Aurora.”
“This will give dozens of lower-income families the opportunity to raise their families in the type of neighborhood setting that many AHA families have been seeking,” he said.
Under the proposed deal, the AHA will not own or operate the new scattered-site housing. Instead, the Housing Authority will provide 40 Section 8 housing choice vouchers to help subsidize the rents paid by the low-income residents.
Brinshore Development agrees to rent the 40 single-family homes to Housing Authority clients who have Section 8 vouchers. The properties will be managed by a third party firm, Chicago-based Leasing and Management Company Inc., according to Richard Sciortino, principal of Brinshore Development.
Gregory said Brinshore hopes to start acquiring properties in early 2014, complete rehab work over the summer, and lease the homes to Section 8 residents by late 2014.
Brinshore will work with the AHA to examine the entire city to determine the best opportunities for acquiring scattered-site homes, Gregory said.
“They are looking on a broad scale,” he said. “We will not be concentrating tenants in any one place.”
Sciortino said the firm is looking at foreclosed homes on both the city’s East and West sides.
The AHA will release 40 new Section 8 vouchers for the program. Currently, the AHA has released 842 of a possible 893 vouchers, according to Gregory. The agency has not utilized all possible vouchers for a fear of funding cutbacks, he said.
In addition to Section 8 vouchers, the AHA also owns and manages about 650 public housing units.
Because Brinshore is a private, for-profit developer, the properties will remain on the city’s tax rolls, said City Director of Communications Clayton Muhammad.
Muhammad said that neighborhoods with older housing stock have been hardest hit by foreclosures in Aurora, causing steep drops in property values.
“By renovating these vacant homes in Aurora, the city and the AHA hope to help stabilize neighborhoods and increase property values while at the same time providing quality affordable housing for families in need,” he said.
Mayor Tom Weisner said he envisioned the collaborative partnership when he first formed the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force.
“I commend the AHA Board for pursuing innovative strategies that serve to strengthen Aurora’s neighborhoods,” he said.
City Council will have final approval over the city’s plan to dedicate $524,000 toward the project, according to Guzman.