Southern suburbs awarded $2.4 million Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant
Today, the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA) was awarded a $2.4 million Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to strengthen the Southland through a redevelopment strategy that builds off existing and planned rail assets and related housing and economic development opportunities.
Today’s hot-off-the-press news – and the fact that SSMMA was the only Illinois applicant to earn HUD challenge grant funding in this round – is the latest stamp of approval for taking an interjurisdictional approach to sustainable development. Less than 18 months ago, a group of south suburbs came together to form the Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative, which has been working with the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation (CSEDC), under the guidance of SSMMA, on a comprehensive, sustainable redevelopment strategy. Thanks to initial philanthropic support from local foundations, including The Chicago Community Trust and Field Foundation, which allowed the housing collaborative to align efforts and create efficiencies, their work has attracted significant resources:
- $9 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars through Cook County for foreclosure recovery efforts;
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding through the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide advanced residential energy code training to member communities; and
- Technical assistance from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program to support the collaborative's land assembly and land banking strategies.
With today's announcement of the Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant, SSMMA will be able to capitalize a land acquisition fund, create a land banking entity, refine its data analysis technology, and accelerate its overall strategy to focus redevelopment and job creation around transportation corridors.
"We are grateful to HUD and the many partners who worked shoulder to shoulder with us on all these initiatives," said Janice Morrissy, director of housing initiatives, Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative. "In higher percentages than anywhere else in the Chicago region, thousands of families in our communities have lost their homes due to foreclosure and broader economic woes. We are so pleased that the same towns struggling with these heartbreaking trends are now seeing their vision of revitalization financially rewarded. Without such broad support from strong local, regional and national allies, we could not have pursued, much less seized, all of these opportunities."