Equitable, Attainable, and Stable Homeownership for Chicagoans
The Chicago Housing Trust (CHICAGO HOUSING TRUST) has over 130 affordable homes and
condominium units in neighborhoods across Chicago. The program is designed to preserve long-term
affordability while expanding access to homeownership.
What is the Chicago Housing Trust?
The Chicago Housing Trust, formerly known as the Chicago Community Land Trust, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation created in 2006, to provide opportunities for low- and moderate-income households
to purchase decent and affordable homes in neighborhoods where prices are going up; to keep the
property taxes for those homes lower; and to keep those homes affordable for future owners. The
Chicago Housing Trust has a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of housing advocates, non-profit
housing developers, lenders, and funders, all appointed by the Mayor.
What are some of the benefits to home buyers purchasing a Chicago Housing Trust home?
Owning a Chicago Housing Trust home is an investment in a neighborhood, shelter, security, and
stability. Being part of the Chicago Housing Trust provides owners with a variety of benefits:
• Affordability – Chicago Housing Trust owners can own a home comparable to other homes in the
area, but at an affordable price below the market value.
• Opportunity –Chicago Housing Trust buyers can own a home in a neighborhood that they
otherwise would not be able to afford and enjoy the features, schools, and resources that the
• Sustainability – Chicago Housing Trust homes have lower property taxes because the homes are
assessed according to the affordable value/sales price, not the market value.
• Stability – The Chicago Housing Trust homeowner is not subject to rent increases or possible
eviction when a landlord sells a building.
• Community – Chicago Housing Trust homeowners put down roots in a neighborhood where they
can stay for years while children attend the same school and neighbors become friends.
• Equity – Like any homeowner, Chicago Housing Trust owners earn equity in their home by paying
their mortgage and sharing in the appreciation of the home when they decide to sell the home.
• Control – Chicago Housing Trust owners have the control of making decisions about their home
without seeking permission of a landlord.
• Neighborhood Wealth – the neighborhood wealth in the real estate remains in the neighborhood
when Chicago Housing Trust homes are sold, keeping the neighborhood strong, sustainable and
• Stewardship services – Chicago Housing Trust owners have access to a variety of services after
they buy a Chicago Housing Trust home to help them be successful homeowners.
Does the Chicago Housing Trust own or sell homes?
All of the homes in the Chicago Housing Trust portfolio are owned by the persons living in them, not by
the Chicago Housing Trust. Beginning in 2020, the Chicago Housing Trust will begin purchasing and
reselling homes to owners as part of Chicago Housing Trust’s strategy to increase the number of
affordable homes in Chicago.
When homes become part of the Chicago Housing Trust portfolio because of developments that are
subject to the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), the Chicago Housing Trust uses a Deed
Restriction to ensure long-term affordability. Deed Restriction runs for 30 years and when the owner
sells the home the new owner will also be subject to the Covenant/Deed Restriction. When the Chicago
Housing Trust sells a home itself, the Chicago Housing Trust uses a 99-year Ground Lease to ensure long-term affordability. A 99-year Ground Lease is used in many of the community land trusts in the United
What does the Chicago Housing Trust Deed Restriction or Ground Lease do?
The Chicago Housing Trust Deed Restriction or Ground Lease provide safeguards to ensure that the
home remains affordable for other income-eligible buyers in the future. The Deed Restriction and
• Require that any future buyer meets the household income requirements;
• Include a formula that is used to determine a Maximum Resale Price that will be affordable when
an owner decides to sell; and
• Specify a percentage of the market value appreciation that the owner could receive when the
home is sold.
• Require future buyers to be the owner-occupants of the property
When do these requirements end?
The Chicago Housing Trust Deed Restriction runs for 30 years. The Ground Lease is a 99-year Lease on
the land. During the terms of these documents, the Chicago Housing Trust home must be occupied by
the owner as the owner’s principal residence, and the requirements of the Deed Restriction or Ground
Lease are assumed by the new owner when the Chicago Housing Trust home is sold.
Can a Chicago Housing Trust owner sell their home at any time?
Yes, Chicago Housing Trust owners have the same rights and responsibilities with regard to their homes
as any other owner and they can sell the home at any time. The Deed Restriction or Ground Lease
describes the process for an owner to sell a Chicago Housing Trust home and how the Maximum Resale
Price is calculated.
What about property taxes?
Like any homeowner, the Chicago Housing Trust owner is responsible for paying property taxes. The
Chicago Housing Trust has an agreement with the Cook County Assessor that Chicago Housing Trust
homes will be assessed based on the affordable price/value, rather than the market value. This means
that Chicago Housing Trust owners save several thousand dollars on property taxes each year. If there
are changes in the assessed value or tax bill later on, the Chicago Housing Trust assists the owners in
filing tax appeals and obtaining Certificates of Error to get refunds.
What are the income limits for purchasers of Chicago Housing Trust homes?
For most Chicago Housing Trust homes, buyers must have gross annual household incomes at or below
100% of the Area Median Income (AMI), although some homes are limited to buyers whose income is at
or below 80% AMI and some newer developments allow household income up to 120% AMI. At present,
most CHICAGO HOUSING TRUST owners have household incomes at or below 80% AMI.
What are the eligibility requirements for someone to purchase a Chicago Housing Trust home?
The requirements for a Chicago Housing Trust home buyer fall into three general categories:
1) Income Eligibility – When a buyer makes an offer on a Chicago Housing Trust home, the
Chicago Housing Trust verifies that the buyer’s gross annual household income meets the
income requirements. Chicago Housing Trust buyers do not have to be first-time home
buyers, but a Chicago Housing Trust buyer cannot own other residential property and can
purchase a Chicago Housing Trust property only once.
2) Mortgage Ready – A Chicago Housing Trust buyer must be able to qualify for a mortgage loan
for the purchase. The Chicago Housing Trust does not provide any direct subsidies to the
buyer, but buyers can apply for the Tax Smart Mortgage Credit Certificate and any other
subsidies that are available. Chicago Housing Trust buyers must obtain Home Buyer
Education along with Condominium training (if purchasing a condominium) and attend an
Orientation regarding the Chicago Housing Trust.
3) Maintain and Sustain – Chicago Housing Trust owners must occupy the property as their
principal residence, and are responsible for paying their mortgage, property taxes, and
condominium assessments. Chicago Housing Trust owners must keep the home insured and
maintain the home. Chicago Housing Trust homes cannot be rented out.
How do homes get placed into the Chicago Housing Trust?
Properties are added to the Chicago Housing Trust through a variety of ways:
1) There are ‘legacy’ homes that originally received subsidy from the City of Chicago as part of a City
program that has since ended (such as ‘New Homes for Chicago’ );
2) There are new developments subject to the City’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) and
which include affordable homes that will be sold as part of the Chicago Housing Trust;
3) There is an opportunity for private owners, non-profit developers, or other developers to ‘OPT
IN’ to the Chicago Housing Trust by placing an existing, newly-constructed, or rehabbed property
into the Chicago Housing Trust; or
4) The Chicago Housing Trust can purchase a property directly or acquire a property through the
Cook County Land Bank or through the City of Chicago’s Troubled Buildings Initiative.
What is the ‘OPT IN’ opportunity?
There are homeowners who want to see the neighborhood remain a place where families can afford to
live and put down roots for themselves. Such an owner can ‘OPT IN’ to the Chicago Housing Trust by
signing the Deed Restriction for the home. The property taxes would then be assessed according to an
affordable value rather than the market value. The owner will still own the property and is free to sell it
at any time, but by signing the Deed Restriction the owner agrees to sell the home to an income-eligible
buyer at an affordable price that is calculated according to a formula in the Deed Restriction.
The ‘OPT-IN’ choice is for existing homeowners who want to see their home preserved as an affordable
housing opportunity for other owners into the future. There is no income-eligibility requirement for existing owners who wish to ‘OPT-IN’ and have their home included in the Chicago Housing Trust
portfolio, but future buyers would have to be income-eligible. In 2020, the Chicago Housing Trust will
offer grants to owners who ‘OPT-IN’, to be used to make exterior or interior repairs or to make the
home more energy efficient or accessible.
When a Chicago Housing Trust owner sells the home, how much equity/appreciation will the owner
The amount a Chicago Housing Trust owner receives depends on the real estate market at the time of
sale. The Chicago Housing Trust Deed Restriction and Ground Lease include formulas for setting the
Maximum Resale Price for a Chicago Housing Trust home. The intent of the Chicago Housing Trust is to
provide a seller with a fair and equitable return while giving the next income-eligible buyer the
opportunity to purchase a home at an affordable price. The Deed Restriction and Ground Lease require
the Maximum Resale Price to never be lower than what the owner originally paid (regardless of the
market value dropping) and that the owner will be eligible for a share of the increase in the market
What are the benefits to the City of Chicago from the Chicago Housing Trust?
The Chicago Housing Trust sustains and preserves home ownership for working families without
additional subsidy from the City. By complying with the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, developers
create affordable homes that are placed into the Chicago Housing Trust, and the Chicago Housing Trust
Deed Restriction ensures that those homes will continue to be affordable for 30 years. Rather than
having households displaced from neighborhoods, the Chicago Housing Trust provides an opportunity
for residents to own homes at an affordable price in appreciating neighborhoods. The value in the real
estate remains in the neighborhood.
Where are Chicago Housing Trust homes presently located?
Since 2006, the Chicago Housing Trust has focused on creating affordable homes in neighborhood areas
that already are experiencing or are likely to experience rising home prices and property taxes.
Presently, CHICAGO HOUSING TRUST homes are located in Albany Park, Avondale, Edgewater, Humboldt
Park, Logan Square, Loop, Bridgeport, Near North Side, Near South Side, Near West Side, Little Village,
Marshall Square, Uptown, Wicker Park, and West Town. New developments in process with Chicago
Housing Trust homes are located in Near West Side, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, McKinley Park,
Armour Square, Irving Park, Bridgeport, and Woodlawn. In 2020, the Chicago Housing Trust will be
purchasing homes for resale at affordable prices in East Garfield Park, Woodlawn, Pilsen, Little Village,
Hermosa and Humboldt Park.
What happens if a Chicago Housing Trust owner defaults on the mortgage?
Because the Covenant/Deed Restriction is recorded along with the property Deed and mortgage, the
Chicago Housing Trust typically will receive notice of default from the lender, so that the Chicago
Housing Trust staff can intervene with foreclosure intervention counseling, a referral to other resources,
or a referral to one of the housing counseling agencies that provide foreclosure intervention counseling.
The Chicago Housing Trust also has the ability to purchase the home to keep it from foreclosure and resell it at an affordable price to a new owner.
Where can I find out more about the Chicago Housing Trust or the ‘OPT-IN’ program?
You can contact the Chicago Housing Trust staff by email at one of the following:
Or by calling (312) 744-2582 (Jennie Fronczak) or (312) 744-2967 (Destiny Edmonds).
Or going to the website: https://wordpress-671714-2414712.cloudwaysapps.com