Letter to Mayor Brandon Johnson on SRO Funding

Sep 14, 2023

September 13, 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson

121 N LaSalle Street

Chicago City Hall 4th Floor

Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Mayor Johnson,

We are writing on behalf of the Single-Room Occupancy (SRO) Preservation team at ONE Northside and ONE People’s Campaign to request your support for increased funding for the SRO Preservation Loan Program in the next fiscal year. Passed in 2021 for the FY22 budget, the loan program earmarked $15 million over three years from the Department of Housing, offering SRO buyers and owners construction loans and grants for deferred maintenance and building renovations. The program has been a great success thus far. In the first year, applications from building owners exceeded the $5 million annual budget allowance, with over $8 million requested to renovate SRO buildings across the city. This year, three SROs on the northside alone will receive $3.5 million to address issues such as a new roof in a building that suffers from constant leaks and replacing an elevator for seniors. Based on the loan program’s pilot period, it is clear that demand for SRO preservation funding is high. Therefore, we are requesting an additional $15 million earmarked for the SRO Preservation Loan Fund in fiscal year 2024.

We were heartened to read your commitment to SRO preservation in your Transition Plan Report. Specifically, we are encouraged by your Housing Goal #1 to provide all those who are unhoused with services of their choice and safe, quality, accessible, affordable housing, which includes the following long-term metric of success: Through expansion of resources, no SRO housing stock lost from city baseline established (pp. 114). 

Aligned with your aims, the SRO Preservation Loan Fund ordinance states that borrowers must maintain a minimum of 30% affordable units. Thus, the requested funding increase would propel your mission for affordable housing preservation much further. With up to $15,000 per unit awarded to building owners through the program, building owners are incentivized to maintain ownership and affordability of their buildings, in addition to making sure they are safe and healthy places to live, thereby stemming the trend of SRO units being lost to luxury redevelopment. 

SROs are a vital source of affordable housing in the private market for a diverse community of Chicagoans who may otherwise be at risk of homelessness. An additional $15 million will make the loan program accessible to more building owners to maintain the city’s SRO stock and would improve tenants’ living conditions, ensuring safe, quality, and accessible dwellings. 

We appreciate your attention to this budget request. If you have questions or clarifications, please contact Tajauna Biloche, ONE Northside Housing Organizer, at tb******@on**********.org.


Jessica Ames, Board Co-President, ONE Northside

Rev. Lindsey Long Joyce, ONE Northside Board Co-President

Joe Grant, Board Member, ONE People’s Campaign

Bryce Fields, Board Member, ONE People’s Campaign

Mike Thomas, Executive Director, Garfield Park Community Council

Karen Foster, Former Tenant of the Jonquil Hotel, Rogers Park

Molly Brown, Associate Professor, DePaul University, ONE Northside Member

Ken Johnson, Executive Director, Good News Partners, SRO Operator

Susan Forteir SRO tenant at 4707 N Malden 46th Ward

Willie Parker, SRO tenant at The Leland, 46th Ward

Ken Ringuette, SRO tenant at 6018 N Winthrop, 48th Ward

Robert Pitzele, SRO tenant at The Aragon, 48th Ward

Sam Mandgano, SRO tenant at The Northmere, 48th Ward

Connie Marline, SRO tenant at The Glenn, 48th Ward

Debbie Booker, SRO tenant at The Chatelaine 48th Ward

Janice Ducksworth, SRO tenant at The Jonquil, 49th Ward

Michelle Malin, SRO tenant at The Jonquil, 49th Ward

Hannah Gelder, Organizing Director, ONE Northside

Tajauna Biloche, Housing Organizer, ONE Northside

Alderperson Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward

Alderwoman Maria Hadden, 49th Ward

Alderwoman Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, 48th Ward

Alderperson Timmy Knudsen, 43rd Ward

Join us to build a diverse, united North Side of Chicago acting powerfully for our shared values of racial, social, and economic justice in communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.