Historically, code enforcement on seriously code-deficient multifamily buildings often led to abandonment and subsequent demolition. However, in 2003, the City of Chicago and CIC created the Troubled Buildings Initiative (TBI) to make code enforcement lead instead to improved rental properties. To administer TBI, CIC established an affiliate called Community Initiatives Inc. (CII).
Since 2003, CIC has: evaluated conditions in more than 830 buildings and overseen the rehabilitation of 500 buildings with 9,800 units; purchased and transferred to responsible owners 245 buildings with 3,802 units of affordable rental housing; and acquired 289 condo units, filed condo deconversion orders and transferred 57 buildings with 581 units to new owners. [Statistics as of September 30, 2015.] At the City, this interdepartmental effort involves the Law Department, the Buildings Department, the Police Department, and the CAPS Program, in addition to the Department of Housing and Economic Development.
CII/CIC staff act as an agent for the City and for the court in taking action against persistently troubled multifamily properties. At the court’s request, staff performs a feasibility analysis on a building. If warranted, the court appoints CII to be receiver on a property and to make court ordered repairs, which are paid for by TBI funds. CII records liens against the properties and ultimately recovers much of the expenditures for repairs. If an owner does not pay off a receiver lien, CII can foreclose and obtain title to the property.
The contract has been funded through a combination of CDBG and City Corporate funds and through program income from payment of receiver liens. TBI has proven to be a very efficient and effective strategy to ensure code compliance and preservation of multifamily rental buildings.