Chicago, IL –HOPE Fair Housing Center (HOPE) announced the Austin Works 2014 funding awards for Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization programs working in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago Thursday.
Executive Summary – On October 18, 2013, HOPE announced a Request for Proposals for $600,000 to support neighborhood revitalization efforts in the Austin community, an area fraught with vacant and abandoned properties and foreclosures and struggling with high unemployment. The goals of the RFP were to mitigate the negative effects of the foreclosure crisis by prioritizing proposals designed to foster long-term sustainability in the focus area of Austin.
The HOPE Funds are a result of a federal housing discrimination complaint filed in April 2012 by The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 13 of its member organizations, including HOPE, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. alleging that Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Owned (REO) properties in white areas were much better maintained and marketed than REO properties in communities of color. The settlement with Wells Fargo, the first-ever agreement regarding the equal maintenance and marketing of REO homes, provides $27 million to 19 cities across the nation to foster homeownership, assist with rebuilding neighborhoods of color impacted by the foreclosure crisis, and promote diverse, inclusive communities. 
Requests received totaled $1,621,415.00
Summary of Austin Works 2014 Revitalization Awards:
A total of $678,948 in grant funds has been awarded to the following recipients:
$172,500 to Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. to provide forgivable down payment and closing cost assistance grants to homebuyers purchasing in the Austin neighborhood.
$110,550 to Oak Park Regional Housing Center for Austin Ascending, a program which will redevelop 2-4 unit buildings for owner occupant purchasers, technical assistance for building owners, homeownership counseling and landlord training services, and affirmative marketing.
$50,000 to Austin Coming Together/GoodCity NFP for community outreach in the Levin Park area of Austin.
$345,898 to Westside Health Authority for 100 Men 100 Homes to provide property rehabilitation, community outreach, and job training to the formerly incarcerated.
Evaluation Criteria:
The review committee assessed proposals based on the following evaluation criteria:
Potential Impact – including geographic focus, strategic opportunities, leveraged resources, commitment to the community, commitment to work collaboratively with key stakeholders, cost-effectiveness of outcomes sought.
Clarity of Objectives – a sound and innovative approach, knowledge of the target population and geographies, knowledge of best practices.
Probability of Success – Financially stable applicants and partners, readiness to begin projects quickly or project is already underway, demonstrated track record of team leader and partners, demonstrated track record of applicant strategic partners working collaboratively, demonstrated support from local public or private organizations.