Spring 2020 Edition
Rogers Park Builder
Editor’s Notes – Spring Newsletter
By Steve Cain, Writer/Editor

COVID-19. Coronavirus. You’re going to hear those words over and over again in our Spring Newsletter.

And no wonder. In what seems like the blink of an eye, COVID-19 has turned our world upside-down. The best economy is modern times is suddenly giving the Great Depression a run for its money as the worst-ever economic catastrophe. Our beautiful city has fallen eerily and horribly silent – a shadow of its former vital self – as its citizens (mostly) heed the warnings of our elected officials and stay home.

Despite all our best efforts, COVID-19 has spread at an alarming rate across the country and the world. As I write this short introduction, more than a million Americans are known to have been infected so far (the actual total is probably much higher), and well over 50,000 have died, by far the highest number of infections and deaths of any country in the world. As recently as early March, these numbers were so small, you could almost count them on your hands.

Predictably, the COVID-19 emergency has brought out the best of us, and the worst. From toilet paper hording to lashing out at foreigners, we’ve seen plenty of bad behavior spurred by our strange circumstances. But we have also seen healthcare workers by the thousands put their lives on the line to take care of the sick and the dying. And we’ve seen a thousand acts of kindness – neighbors looking after neighbors, coordinated citywide, sing-alongs from windows and balconies, and virtual Zoom cocktail parties, birthdays and even weddings as people use technology to stay connected.

No one knows exactly what lies ahead. It has been over a century since the world lived through the Spanish Flu, the most similar event to what we are currently experiencing. But the world in 1918 and today is vastly different, making it hard to draw too many parallels between the two pandemics.

One thing we do know. The virus is not done with us, and we will have more tough times ahead. We also know that, if we stay calm and listen to the scientists, we can survive this and live to see better days, even if we suffer a lot of hardship and economic deprivation along the way.

This Newsletter will be all about COVID-19, from its impact on the Rogers Park community to its impacts on tenants and property owners.

Even in our own ranks, we have also seen the best and the worst of humanity. It is heartwarming to see tenants and property owners take a genuine interest in each other’s welfare and work together to find accommodations and solutions to the economic turmoil this virus has created. But it is dispiriting to see opportunists on all sides of the tenant-property owner spectrum put into practice the old adage, “never let a crisis go to waste.”

Read on for more about all of this. Who knows, you may even find an article or two that is not (at least not primarily) about the virus.

So, here’s a little unsolicited advice from your editor – stay home if you can, stay safe, stay healthy, wash your hands often, don’t touch your face when you are out and about, wear a mask, be nice to delivery people and grocery store workers, tip everyone a little extra if you can. Got all that?

But please, above all, be kind. We need that now more than anything. My best to you all.
Remember restaurants, theaters, going to the movies, book club, poker night, backyard cookouts with the neighbors – da Cubs, da Bears, da Bulls? Remember commuting to work? For that matter (for far too many of us), remember work?
As recently as the beginning of March, all of these concepts were unremarkable – just the things we did – whether daily, weekly, or just occasionally – without a thought or a care.
Tough times can bring out the best and the worst in people. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.
Such is the case with the COVID-19 emergency. We’ve all lived the story – the exponential spread of the virus combined with a sudden contraction of the economy as businesses closed and people fled to the safety of their homes. The impact on the economy has been both dramatic and immediate. Entire industries have shut down or been severely weakened. Unemployment has zoomed from around 3.5% to something between 15-20% in a matter of weeks.
He has only been working for the City of Chicago Department of Housing (DoH) since September of last year. But you wouldn’t know it from his deep knowledge of housing policy or the important role he plays with the Inclusionary Zoning Review process that began late in 2019. An important element in this review is the work currently being done by a 20-member Task Force assembled to make recommendations for how to revamp the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). This is just one part of a multi-prong effort to study ways to make inclusionary zoning more effective in Chicago.
None of this should come as a surprise, given Daniel’s job title. He is, after all, DoH’s Director of Policy. He did not get this job without an impressive educational background and resumé of housing policy experience. Daniel is a Chicagoan by birth. Other than two years in Madison during high school, most of Daniel’s childhood was in Albany Park on the city’s North Side.
Lenders, owners and buyers are all asking the same question. What is my property worth now that COVID-19 has hit? Right now, honestly, the best answer is – no one really knows.
As an appraiser, I thrive on data. We typically track actual sales over time in order to see trends. However, that historical approach is not possible right now because COVID-19 is still so new. So, we have to focus on following those who are in the market – the brokers, sellers, buyers and lenders – and weigh what they report they are seeing and experiencing.
For anyone who has been a regular participant in the Rogers Park Builders Group monthly meetings (you might have to strain your brain to recall those much-missed, actual gatherings of our members), then you may very well have chatted with Greg Jones who recently became a Director. In a group with a lot of extroverts, Greg stands out as being especially outgoing, friendly and always up for a good conversation with other members.
Greg has been coming to RPBG meetings for several years. Like so many of our members, his introduction to the group was through our even more outgoing President, Mike Glasser. Mike invited Greg to come to the January 2018 Trends Workshop. Greg enjoyed the experience and decided to join.
Mike Glasser, RPBG President
Some housing advocates are urging all renters, regardless of their financial circumstances, to forego paying rent during this crisis.
As housing providers who are Chicagoans who own or manage many of the city’s small and midsized neighborhood rental properties, we are acutely aware of the financial stress our building residents are experiencing due to the fallout from the coronavirus.

The overwhelming majority of Chicago’s housing providers are empathetic to the tremendous strain this crisis places on many of our residents and their families, and we want to help our tenants—who are often our neighbors—so they can continue to live in their homes.
Spring 2020
Steve Cain
It’s still kind of hard to believe how quickly and completely the world has changed, harder still that this change has all occurred in the space of less than two months. We’d been hearing about the mysterious coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan since the beginning of the year. But, like a lot of news these days, it sounded like something far away and abstract – somebody else’s problem – or so we thought.

Around February, it was becoming clearer that the virus was spreading. Chicago was actually the first place in this country we knew for sure it landed – an individual who had just been in Wuhan and was now returning to Chicago. By all accounts, this person was isolated, treated, recovered, and that was the end of that.

But not really. Shortly after case number one, things started to heat up in Seattle and the reality of coronavirus in the United States could no longer be denied. Even then, we did not fully comprehend what it meant or what the full impact of this disease would bring in its wake.
Responding to the intense need brought on by the COVID-19 emergency, Rogers Park Builders Group recently donated $5,000 to Northside Community Resources (NCR) to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community. This donation was made under the direction of Carla Price and the Finance Committee. These funds were delivered on March 29th. (RPBG subsequently contributed an additional $3,000 to NCR with individual members contributing an additional $4,000... and counting!)
For those of you not familiar with this amazing organization, NCR is a Rogers Park-based non-profit that runs a variety of programs serving the neediest citizens of the Rogers Park community. An important focus of NCR is affordable housing. The NCR Board of Directors includes RPBG Directors Tom and Sarah Lisy who have long been active with NCR and who have supported it over the years.
JHO Follow-up; Status of Evictions
Verella Osborne, President, Legal Document Management, Inc.
Well, the Just Housing Ordinance has been in effect for four months – so how has it affected your application process? Have you decided not to consider an applicant’s criminal history at all? If you have, please note that there is a difference of opinion among attorneys: some believe the JHO only applies if a landlord considers criminal history in renting; other attorneys believe the JHO is not limited in this respect and applies across the board to all residential and commercial rentals and sales. If you don’t want to be the “test case,” I suggest you comply even if you don’t consider criminal records.

Are you providing the mandated three documents to each applicant? These documents are a “prequalification” application form, your written rental criteria, and a copy of the JHO Disclosure notice or link. Do you have an “acknowledgement of receipt” for the last two disclosures included in your application form and signed by the tenant? Or is it just your word against theirs that you provided them? Remember that, if you have no proof, you could be liable for non-compliance.
Around Rogers Park
Life in Rogers Park is very different today than it was just a short time ago. In many ways, what Rogers Park is currently experiencing is similar to what the rest of Chicago and, for that matter, the world are all experiencing – a radical shift away from whatever previously constituted our “normal lives” as the economy falls to ruins all around us while we shelter in place to slow the virus’ spread.
At the same time, Rogers Park is experiencing the COVID-19 emergency in ways that are unique to the neighborhood. Rogers Park has always been a distinctive place with its own personality. The distinctive nature of Rogers Park has meant that life after COVID-19 is a little different here than in some other parts of the city and region. In a nutshell, Rogers Parkers are younger, live more densely, and are much more likely to rent their homes than people in the rest of the city or region. These factors can both help and hinder the community’s ability to respond to, and cope with, the COVID-19 emergency. Let’s look at some of the individual neighborhood conditions, and how they make life after COVID-19 easier or harder for neighborhood residents.
We mourn the loss of Auxiliary Corporal Mario Araujo of the Chicago Fire Department. Mr. Araujo died Tuesday, April 7 of complications from COVID-19. Mr. Araujo began working for the Fire Department in 2003. For most of that time, and continuing until his death, Mr. Araujo worked out of Engine Company #102 on the 7300 block of North Clark Street on Truck #25. Mr. Araujo was 49 years old.
(773) 728-9900 | www.rpbg.org
Rogers Park Builders Group encourages and supports responsible residential and commercial property investment, development, and ownership in the Rogers Park community.