CCWBE Report

Pilsen Housing Cooperative (PIHCO) – 18th & Peoria
Reporting Period:
Feb 2024
Submitted on:
February 29, 2024
Submitted By:
Diego Morales

Pre-Development Projects

Project Goals

What proportion of Goal 1 overall is complete at this point?


What are the barriers and opportunities for completion that impacted goal 1 in the last month?

The group of neighbors that helped found PIHCO were deeply embedded in the vibrant local artist community. These members and their networks have been invaluable in the design process through our community charrettes, where PIHCO members, community members especially of the artist community, and architects collaborate on the design of our 18th & Peoria project. From these conversations we have created basic guidelines and drafts for design of our project. PIHCO has had ongoing conversations with two potential anchor tenants who are staples of the neighborhood: Pilsen Arts & Community House (PACH), and the El Paseo Garden. With PIHCO being closely related to the local arts scene, PACH is a natural fit as a community oriented gallery and hub for artists. The city’s proposed El Paseo trail would line up adjacent to our proposed project site, and the El Paseo community garden which has worked closely with the city on that project has expressed interest in potentially setting up a trailhead at our site. The El Paseo community garden is a well-renowned local green space that offers a variety of community programming to the neighborhood. Throughout the years, PIHCO has generated much interest from prospective members exploring affordable pathways to homeownership and connectivity to their neighborhood. As PIHCO experiences continued success in our mission of creating affordable limited-equity homeownership as a means of offering stability in a community made unstable from gentrification, so too have more residents filled out applications to become members. With 3 buildings now thriving in this democratic cooperative model, PIHCO has more than 80 people and counting waiting as applicants for the opportunity to join the cooperative. PIHCO has also secured $1,000,000 in share loan funds from advocating at the federal level, which will have huge positive impact on our share pre-sales in later stages of the project. PIHCO has also successfully finished our first internal election. Our bylaws dictate that once we reach a certain size, we must transition from a board of all PIHCO members to a board of 7 elected people. Meeting space has been a challenge, as there are not many indoor common spaces available to us. PIHCO’s daily operations can take a lot of capacity from our members. Building improvements, administrative decision around insurance, elections, etc. mean it can be hard for members to become more actively involved in the expansion project.

What proportion of Goal 2 overall is complete at this point?


What are the barriers and opportunities for completion that you impacted goal 2 in the last month?

Our proposed 18th & Peoria project represents a step up in scale and approach for PIHCO’s operations. Our pre-development plan brings challenges due to this newer terrain, but there have been many positive opportunities that have presented themselves to make this project a reality. In addition to the $1 million we secured for share loans, an additional $1 million has been secured from the same federal grant for the purposes of PIHCO’s expansion. We have also secured financing from Jewish Council of Urban Affairs for the operation of this CWB grant. As we explore further sources of pre-development funding and logistics, the continued material support and interest from various levels of government as well as private philanthropy is a compelling case for support of our project. A promising option is a federal HUD 213 grant. Our team has attended HUD meetings and met directly with developers with experience with this form of financing to explore the feasibility for our project, which has been promising. If this source of financing can be secured, it could feasibly fill any gap we arrive at. Through direct engagement with PIHCO members and prospective members, we have arrived at basic design guidelines for the project. That includes projected unit mix and even visual drawings. Surveying and engaging our members and the broader community, we’ve set ranges for the scale of our mid-sized building as well as special features such as a commercial space on the first floor and artist studios that can be creatively used to sustain the cooperative financially. We’ve identified needs specific for artists of various disciplines that will be incorporated into the design through our collaborative design charrettes with the artist community, architect partners, and our PIHCO members. Further opportunities include grants we have applied for with Unidos US as well as with Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards that included a site visit to our building on Oakley St. We’ve also had meetings with previous Department of Housing Commissioner Marissa Novara and the Chicago Community Trust.

What proportion of Goal 3 overall is complete at this point?


What are the barriers and opportunities for completion that you impacted goal 3 in the last month?

PIHCO has been successful in opening up public financial opportunities. We’ve secured $2,000,000 via a federal Community Project Fund grant which will be used to create share-loans for our future members and to procure our expansion. We’ve been meeting with University of Chicago Law school, The Resurrection Project, and UHAB regarding these share loans. We’ve explored the feasibility of federal HUD 213 loans and have interacted with staff of the department as well as other developers/cooperatives that have utilized these funds. We see a ripe opportunity with the engagement we’ve gotten at the federal level. At the city level, our horizons have expanded greatly with the access from this CWB grant. In our particular case for 18th & Peoria, the site we are looking at is in negotiations for city procurement that will be completed once a local TIF question is resolved. Our communications with city departments and officials around procurement have been positive and promising. The site in question was a battleground against gentrification in which the city used TIF funds to divert the use of a large site from a massive private luxury development to a completely affordable effort driven by the city. There is potential in similar funds being used to help close financial gaps in our project, as well, as PIHCO’s mission is aligned with the city’s stated goals for the site. The timeline around this procurement is uncertain, and that remains a barrier. PIHCO has additionally advocated successfully to open up state funding for limited equity cooperatives, ultimately landing as passed legislation to direct a proportion of IHDA’s budget towards limited-equity projects like ours. Conversations around implementation are positive, ongoing, and inclusive of the stakeholders necessary to make the most of these funds. A PIHCO associate, Ivan Arenas, is participating in a state-level task force started by State Senator Mike Simmons.

CWB Ecosystem

Did you access Technical Assistance for your CWB project last month?


Which TA provider(s) did you work with within the Phase I CWEB grantees?

Which TA providers did you work with OUTSIDE of the Phase I CWEB grantees?

Did someone from your organization attend the Working Group this month?


How would you rate the usefulness of the working group to your project last month? (on a scale of 1-5)

How would you rate the usefulness of the Working Group for building community?

What have been the two most valuable contributions of the Working Group this month?

Please share any comments about the working group meetings.

How many TOTAL housing units did you preserve or create last month? (it is okay if the answer is zero)


How many TOTAL CWB businesses did you develop last month? (it is okay if the answer is zero)


Community Engagement

Number of stakeholder meetings held related to your Pre-Development Project?


Number of community meetings attended last month related to your Pre-Development Project?


Organizational Capacity

Service / Capacity

Service Capacity

Accounting & Financial Management




Conflict Resolution

3 some ability

Cooperative Development and Operations


Education & Training

3 some ability

Fundraising or Raising Capital

3 some ability

Governance / Legal


Marketing & Communications

3 some ability



Project Management


Real Estate Acquisition & Development

3 some ability

Relationship Building

5 extensive ability



Other (please describe and include ranking)

What constraints or limitations with internal capacity is the organizarion experiencing related to its Pre-Development Project?

See above under Goal 1

What opportunities, if any, did the organization take advantage of related to its Pre-Development Project?

A variety of opportunities not only have presented themselves, but the extensive work and advocacy of PIHCO has successfully materialized opportunities when we needed them. This applies for the $2,000,000 in federal grant money we secured, the opening up of IHDA’s budget towards limited equity projects, the ongoing direct communication with DOH and DPD regarding procurement of our proposed site, and existing relationships with non-profit institutions such as JCUA to solidify our ability to operate through this grant. Some of our greatest opportunities lie in the passion, expertise, and ingenuity of our members, such as the collaborative process of our design charrettes in concretize our vision for this building.

Optional Space

Please use this space to elaborate, contextualize, or add any additional info about the details submitted in your report: