February 22, 2013

The foreclosure crisis left many communities with a dilemma: Vacant homes are accumulating quickly at the same time as fewer and fewer people can qualify for mortgages to buy those homes. What can be done with the growing inventory of vacant, abandoned homes? One solution gathering attention is renting out single-family homes, but some communities are wary due to a history with irresponsible landlords, while some investors are struggling to find ways to manage properties effectively. Municipalities, real estate investors, property managers, researchers, and other stakeholders gathered together at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on Jan. 30, 2013, for a forum on Single-Family Rental Strategies: Managing the Next Steps of the Foreclosure Crisis.

The forum, co-hosted by the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s Housing Committee, laid the groundwork of vacancy trends in the Chicago area and beyond, presented current strategies for making single-family rental homes work for communities, and produced recommendations for future action. Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) also released a white paper summarizing current approaches to managing single-family rentals.

Terry Mazany of The Chicago Community Trust kicked off the forum by highlighting the unevenness of the housing market recovery and the risk of leaving behind low-wealth neighborhoods. He challenged the audience to engage in big thinking that looks beyond homeownership to new ways of stabilizing the Chicago region, noting that we would need large-scale solutions to help communities hit hardest by the crisis. 

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