North Side Landlord Recruitment Initiative: North Side recruitment for supportive and subsidized housing programs in Chicago
By Indigo Quashie
As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents across Chicago have continued to face barriers in accessing affordable housing and resources. On the city’s North Side, there are fewer landlords in transit-accessible, amenity-rich areas who participate in rental subsidy programs, reducing the opportunities available for residents seeking stable housing to live in these areas. To combat this issue, several Chicago housing organizations have partnered together to launch the North Side Landlord Recruitment Initiative.
The North Side Landlord Recruitment Initiative (NSLRI) is an outreach project to expand rental subsidy portfolios in the Chicago’s North Side communities. This includes a landlord-centered engagement and education campaign; Aldermanic and community organization engagement; and sharing of portfolios and introductions across partnered organizations including:
- Center for Housing & Health’s Flexible Housing Pool (FHP)
- Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund (CLIHTF)
- All Chicago’s Chicago Rents
- Center for Housing and Health (CHH)
- The Chicago Department of Housing (DOH)
The lack of North Side housing units reinforces racial inequities in Chicago across households of color, primarily Black households, are disproportionately represented among households experiencing homelessness. In 2021, out of the 4,477 people experiencing homelessness, 72.9% were Black residents, despite Black residents only making up 30% of Chicago’s overall population. So, the lack of housing subsidies in these neighborhoods makes it difficult for vulnerable Chicagoans to access the support and resources they need. The NSLRI seeks to connect with North Side landlords to combat this cycle of homelessness, racial segregation and inaccessibility.
All our neighbors deserve safe and affordable homes, whether or not they have experienced homelessness. The North Side Landlord Initiative is an important way for us to collectively ensure equitable access, support the local economy, and combat racial segregation by ensuring our communities are more representative of the city as a whole.
– Peter Toepfer, Executive Director, CHH.
Housing subsidy programs are mutually beneficial for tenants and landlords. Landlords that participate in housing subsidy programs can receive financial incentives, expect timely rental payments, maintain higher occupancy rates, see decreased costs for advertising, access a Landlord Mitigation Fund and have case management provided to support their tenant’s long-term tenancy. The NSLRI’s goal is to recruit at least 15 new landlords and secure 100 new housing units in the north and northwest sides of the city. The NSLRI has collaborated with north and northwest side aldermen and alderwomen to:
- • Connect directly with landlord associations and groups
- • Organize community meetings with landlords to hear from NSLRI program staff directly
- • Publicly share info about landlord benefits and the importance of these housing programs
- • Spread the word by sharing marketing materials, sending emails to listservs, and discussing these programs in ward meetings
On Tuesday, July 12, the NSLRI launched with a Chicago housing info-session at Haas Park in Logan Square. This session was hosted by The Office of Daniel La Sparta-City of Chicago Alderman, Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund (CLIHTF), Center for Housing and Health (Flexible Housing Pool), All Chicago (Chicago Rents), and the Chicago Department of Housing. While the event was geared towards landlords in the Haas Park area, anyone was welcome to attend regardless of where their properties were located. Staff from the hosting organizations led a presentation breaking down the purpose and goals of the NSLRI and explained how each of their teams would play a role in achieving them. During the 30-minute Q&A at the end, Dave Thomas, the director of the FHP, shared that landlords asked valuable questions around costs, case management services and supports, and processes. Alderman La Spata, who initiated this event, was in attendance and spoke at the beginning and end of the presentation.
Building and maintaining relationships with northside landlords has been a challenge for Chicago’s housing programs, which the NSLRI is working to solve. One issue contributing to this struggle is landlords being steered away from subsidy programs by their peers. When speaking with Elizabeth Murray, a Landlord Engagement Specialist at the Center for Housing & Health, she shared how important it is to help landlords truly understand the goals and benefits of subsidy programs for themselves.
“It’s hard pulling northside landlords. One of their biggest concerns is hearing from other landlords around them that have tried subsidy programs and did not have the best success, so they’re steered away from it. Some of the west and southside landlords have heard similar things, but they want to see it for themselves. So that is one of my biggest goals now: Explaining the subsidy program in detail, that landlords are guaranteed a steady check for the next 12 months, and that our clients won’t mess up their units due to case managers visiting them regularly. They have to see people and things for themselves, and I hope we get a big turnaround with the North because a lot of clients prefer to live there.”
All residents should be guaranteed secure, stable, and affordable housing, so it is imperative for Chicago’s communities and organizations to work together to achieve this mission. Join the NSLRI’s work in engaging landlords with housing units on the North Side. Let us work together to make Chicago home!
Learn more about how you can get involved with the North Side Landlord Recruitment Initiative by visiting their landing page, and read about the Chicago housing organizations who have partnered with the initiative here.