1977 CRN is founded by a dozen community based housing organizations. CRN’s founders share a vision of grassroots based development of safe, affordable housing as a powerful tool for the stabilization of their communities. They create the Network as a forum to exchange information, to provide technical assistance to community developers, and to advocate for resources and policies to support affordable housing.

1981 CRN publishes the Development Without Displacement policy statement. Development Without Displacement outlines a vision for grassroots based development by and for low and moderate-income families, in contrast to the massive renewal projects of the then recent past. This vision will define CRN’s efforts as an advocate and technical assistance provider for the next 23 years.

1983 CRN advocates for creation of the Tax Reactivation Program (TRP) to enable easier transfer of tax delinquent properties to developers of low-income housing. During the 1987 Scavenger Sale alone TRP restored 1,682 units of housing to the tax roles as affordable housing, and by 1997 the city of Chicago used TRP to acquire 1,500 properties to redistribute in furtherance of its redevelopment plans.

1984 CRN negotiates a landmark CRA agreement, creating the Neighborhood Lending Program. First Chicago, Northern Trust and Harris Bank agree to invest $170 million in disinvested communities. When the program is slow to take off, CRN steps in to identify borrowers and package loans. By 1989 reinvestment expert Calvin Bradford reports the Neighborhood Lending Program has financed construction or preservation of almost 5,000 units of housing in disinvested tracts, and only 4 or the 572 loans defaulted.

1992-4 CRN rallies 270 organizations to participate in the Chicago Affordable Housing and Community Jobs Campaign. The 2 year campaign convinces the city of Chicago to increase its commitment to affordable housing by $750 million over five years. More importantly, the city agrees to set concrete production goals by income level served, specially targeting Chicagoans who can least afford housing on their own, and to make quarterly reports on its progress toward its goals. Today the city’s Department of Housing is still the only city agency that publicly reports its spending and production, and CRN continues to monitor its progress toward its annual production goals.

1994 CRN founds the Urban Developers Program, the nation’s first masters level program in community development. Housed in its first year at Spertus College, the Urban Developers Program is currently hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CRN continues to work with UIC to identify the best practitioner instructors in the field, recruit students and monitor the program.

1996 CRN initiates the Community Development and Empowerment Workshop Series. Each year, the Empowerment Series provides a broad based introduction to affordable housing development and management. The eight-month certificate program is led by a team of senior community development practitioners, and covers the entire development process, from the nuts and bolts of project planning, financing, and development and culminate in tenant services, property and asset management.

1998 As a founding member of the Chicago CRA Coalition, CRN helped negotiate landmark CRA commitment from Bank One. The agreement was remarkable for winning commitments to calculate lending targets based on market share, and an access account for checking and saving with relaxed credit score standards and substantial financial literacy education support.

1998 CRN works with Chicago Department of Housing to renew its 5 Year Affordable Housing Plan. CRN helps plan a comprehensive Environmental Scan process that brought input from all sectors of Chicago’s community development and housing industry as well the testimony of national experts on issues from public housing to special needs populations. In the resulting 5-year plan, the city committed to invest $1.5 billion in affordable housing, and to identify $500,000 in new resources for affordable housing development.

1998: Franklin Raines, CEO of Fannie Mae, and a party of 400 join CRN to celebrate its 20th Anniversary Gala at the Palmer House Hilton. Community Development leadership awards given to Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Patricia Wright, Marion Coleman, and Bethel New Life.

1999 CRN initiates the Public Private Finance Initiative. Over 200 leaders of Chicago’s housing and finance industries take part in the 6 month initiative to identify new resources after the city’s new 5 Year Affordable Housing Plan identifies lack of resources as a major challenge. New sources identified include a SMART Fund for higher risk, longer term equity investment, an Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit, and property tax relief for multi-family buildings.

2001 Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit becomes state law. CRN leads the advocacy effort to convince the state legislature to create a program to extend a 50 cent state tax credit for every dollar donated by an Illinois corporation to an affordable housing project. This $25 million program represents the first new state investment in affordable housing in over 10 years.

2001 CRN hosts the Valuing Affordability Conference. Over 700 participants join the 2 day conference with caucuses exploring cutting edge affordable housing strategies involving community empowerment, community support, neighborhood preservation, housing set-asides and living rents. Proposals for tax relief, assisted housing preservation and inclusionary zoning will be the focus of CRN’s advocacy for the next several years.

2002 CRN publishes Present Realities Future Prospects, the results of its study of operating costs for Low Income Housing Tax Credit Projects. Using data for over 100 Chicago tax credit buildings supplied through the Chicago Housing Partnership, the study also considers factors that contribute to the long term stability of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Buildings.

2002 The Cook County Board of Assessors passes tax relief proposals for Class 9, Class 3 and Class S properties. These proposals arose from CRN’s Public Private Finance Initiative and the Valuing Affordability Conference and were advocated by CRN with the support of Cook County Assessor James Houlihan.

2002-3 Introduction of Housing Set-Aside ordinance in Chicago City Council calling for a 25% mandate for affordable housing in every development over 10 units. Members and allies around the city work to make this the election issue for 2003 races and to win aldermanic support.

2003 CRN publishes Affordable Chicago, an analysis of the City’s housing production during 1998-2003 Housing Plan.

2004 CRN works on preservation of the rental housing stock in Illinois. SB2329 passes the Illinois House and Senate unanimously which gives tenants an opportunity to purchase affordable buildings to maintain restricted rents.

2005 CRN celebrates its 25 year anniversary of leadership and dedication to community development and affordable housing and plays an influential role in the 5-year renewal of the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit and the passage of the Rental Housing Subsidy Bill in addition to begining the Preservation Summit series. Housing Illinois Public Awareness Campaign launches commercials.

2006 CRN is named one of nine Creative and Effective Institutionsworldwide by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Given the success of the 2005 Preservation Summit, CRN holds the Southside Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Summit. 

CRN begins the 5-Year Strategic Plan which outlines work most important to the ever-changing housing climate in our region.  

2007 CRN Pilots the CDC Census to assist and determine the economic impact of nonprofit developers across the Chicago Metro- six county- region.Through a competitive bid contract with IHDA, CRN completes the Housing Needs Assessment for the State's Consolidation Plan. 

CRN continues its tradition of educational trainings in its 12th annual Community Development and Empowerment series in addition to trainings for Aldermen and the uses of TIF among others.

2008 CRN played an important role in educating City Hall regarding the need for change, and Mayor Daley announced his amendments to the Affordable Housing Requirements Ordinance (ARO). In response to the burgeoning foreclosure crisis CRN held the "Foreclosure Reuse Session" and became an active voice on bank mergers, IHDA's Qualified Application Process, the federal response to foreclosure, the vacant buildings ordinance, and the disposition of subsidized housing developments.

2009 CRN hosted "Housing 2016: What can be accomplished in the next eight years?" to discuss community based solutions to he housing crisis. CRN also directed its sights on 2016 when the Olympic committee appointed CRN to the Community Advisory Board where we played a large role in the passage of a 30% affordability requirement for the Olympic Village. Additionally, CRN played an ongoing role in the passage of "Accepting the Challenge: The Plan for Affordable Housing 2000-2014" submitting regular research and testimony.


MacArthur Foundation

MacArthur Award Winner

The Chicago Rehab Network is a proud recipient of the 2006 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

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