On July 26, 2018, CCLF and over 60 guests gathered to officially launch www.chicagocoop.net, a new website serving Chicagoland’s cooperative community and those interested in cooperative living. The event, held at the historic Supreme Life Building in Chicago’s Bronzeville community, offered attendees an opportunity to greet fellow cooperative residents, share success stories within Chicagoland’s co-op community, and view a guided demonstration of the new website.
Principals of the event space within the Supreme Life Building recalled the building’s historical glory with a gallery presentation of vintage photographs reflective of Bronzeville’s rich past and dynamic culture. Provided by the Chicago Blues Museum, the images featured performers who appeared at local area venues during the community’s heyday as a prime entertainment hub.
Taft West, Vice President of Technical Assistance and Sustainability at CCLF, welcomed the gathering and provided an overview of CCLF’s community development efforts. CCLF specializes in providing financing for housing cooperatives, food co-ops, and worker-owned co-ops. Since its founding, CCLF has provided $8,776,213 in loans to 27 affordable housing cooperatives. CCLF also financed one worker-owned co-op and two food co-ops.
Bob Tucker, COO and Executive Vice President of Programs at CCLF, reinforced CCLF’s dedication to the cooperative community and introduced Robert Jenkens, Director, Social Impact Initiatives/Senior Vice President, National Cooperative Bank (NCB). NCB’s customer base includes such cooperatives as grocery wholesaler co-ops, food co-ops, purchasing co-ops, and housing co-ops throughout the country. As NCB is a sponsor of the new website, Jenkens shared details of the bank’s dedicated work with cooperatives, noting that NCB was initially established in support of the cooperative community.
Calvin L. Holmes, CCLF President, emphasized the importance of holding the launch of a cooperative website in such a historic community as Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. He noted the many CCLF-funded projects in the area and acknowledged special guests and industry partners, including CCLF Board Member Dr. Amara C. Enyia of ACE Municipal Partners, LLC; Matthew Cooper, President and CEO of event sponsor Community Insurance Center; and representatives from the Village of Dolton, Illinois.
Holmes yielded the stage to CCLF Board Member Charles F. Daas of City Solutions-Chicago for the highlight of the evening—a guided demonstration of www.chicagocoop.net and the site’s features. Carlyn So and Mark Smithivas initially worked with CCLF to lay the groundwork of the site’s development. Daas, former executive director of Chicago Mutual Housing Network and editor of Affordable Housing Cooperatives: Their Conditions and Prospects in Chicago, was instrumental in the development of www.chicagocoop.net as well, and highlighted special sections of the website for the audience including a directory of properties and vacancies in the Chicagoland area, tools and fundamentals for successful cooperative living, and CCLF financing options, including custom mortgage products for limited-equity or low-income housing cooperatives. A “Q&A” session with Daas and further networking among guests capped the evening.
The new website is now available to the cooperative community and visitors, offering resources and information to help users get started with or maintain housing co-ops. Visit www.chicagocoop.net to review the site and see more event photos.