Spring/Summer 2021 Edition
Rogers Park Builder
Newsletter Apology
Steve Cain
Writer and Editor of the Rogers Park Builder

I know I’m not the only one who feels like I have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. I’m sure most people reading this can relate. After the weirdness of 2020, that probably goes double!

With my move to Madison, the sale of my previous residence, and a secondary move to a new place in Chicago when I’m in town, 2021 has been especially challenging. Throw in a bunch of renovation projects – in both Madison and Chicago – and 2021 just started to feel completely overwhelming.

I know this is the definition of a “first-world problem,” and I don’t mean to complain. But all this moving was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back when piled on top of everything else I’m already supposed to do. It was the Newsletter that fell through the cracks. I have really struggled these last few months to find the time to do the research and writing that is needed to get it all done, and in a timely fashion.

Luckily for me, my RPBG community is both understanding and patient. When I told our fearless leader, Mike Glasser, about my situation, he said to do whatever I needed to do. After thinking about what that might be, I have decided to stick to the four-newsletters-a-year cycle, but with abbreviated editions for the spring and summer.

The Spring Newsletter will not include some of the regular features, like Around Rogers Park or any articles about our amazing Directors. Verella Osborne, who is having a similarly insane year, is going to wait until summer to do her next column. And Mike has been too busy with NBOA, he was unable to do his President’s column this time around (but don’t miss the article about his TV appearance, debating rent control with Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, on Chicago Tonight!). On the plus side, we do have two great contributions from Carl Kettler and Doug Imber which I think you will enjoy.

I’m hoping everything will more or less get back to normal by the end of the year. Between now and then, bear with me as I get re-settled on both sides of the great Cheese-Curtain frontier. This too shall pass, as they say, and I look forward to getting back to being merely busy, as opposed to completely crazed!

It’s been a hectic year. But I have a lot to look forward to. I just need to catch my breath. Thanks for your understanding.
(This article ran prior to publication of the full Spring Newsletter. Since the rent relief application programs have now closed, this article is being included for informational purposes only. Even if you missed the IHDA and DOH deadlines, there is likely to be another round of rent relief coming. If so, you can be sure we will get this information out to our readers in a subsequent article.)
Stacie Young, Preservation Compact Director at Community Investment Corporation, has at least some good news for long-suffering housing providers. There is money out there for rent relief. It is a very big number. And even more is on its way.
They’re getting closer. And they remain determined. But, despite their best efforts, they have yet to accomplish their goal of lifting the statewide ban on rent control.

Housing providers had reason to be concerned when Representative Will Guzzardi, (D-Chicago, 39th District), succeeded in getting his “lift the ban” measure out of Housing Committee and onto the floor of the Assembly. But, despite his best efforts, he was not able to get the bill adopted by a majority of his colleagues before the spring legislative session closed.
For those of you who are not familiar with Will Guzzardi, he is a leading voice within the Democratic Socialist and Progressive caucuses. For a number of years, Representative Guzzardi has been leading the charge to get rid of the statewide ban on the enactment of rent control measures by local governments.
It’s not the disaster it might have been had the Democratic Socialists gotten what they wanted. But the newly revised ARO, which was passed into law by the Chicago City Council on April 21, will make a number of changes that will have the cumulative effect of making new multifamily development more expensive to build.
As basic economics tells us, when something becomes more expensive to create, feasibility declines and supply will fall. And when there is less of something that people want and need, the price goes up.

No one should claim to be surprised by these basic economic realities. And yet the political establishment either doesn’t understand them, or simply doesn’t care.
You can’t really blame housing providers in Chicago for feeling like we are uniquely under siege. For years, tenant activists and their political allies have been dreaming up new ways to make our lives more difficult. And, more and more, they have been successful in setting the agenda and scoring political victories at our expense.
But the reality is that housing providers in Chicago are not alone. And what is happening in Chicago is anything but unique. Sure, there are differences from one city to the next. Not everything that Chicago is experiencing is also happening in, say, Cincinnati or Houston. But a lot of what we view as local challenges are, in fact, national in scope. The rise of the activist left is not a uniquely Chicago phenomenon – we have more in common with other cities around the country than we recognize.
Mike Glasser has seen his role as spokesperson for small property owners grow over the past year. Mike is not only President of RPBG. He is also President of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance (NBOA), a consortium of neighborhood housing provider groups that have banded together to counter the growing calls from the Democratic Socialists and Progressives at all levels of state and local government to expand regulation of the housing industry.
One of the most hotly contested issues in recent years has been rent control, and one of the leading voices in favor of rent control is Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, representing Pilsen and the near Southwest Side of Chicago.

Alderman Sigcho-Lopez takes a very hard-line view in the rent control debate. Like many Democratic Socialists, the Alderman has a starkly black and white view of who the good guys and the bad guys are. Predictably, the bad guys are corrupt and greedy developers who delight in raising rents on working class people until they can no longer afford to live in “their” neighborhoods. Equally predictably, it is the noble and selfless Progressives (like the Alderman) who are the white knights, trying to defeat the developers and make housing affordable for all.
Bookkeeping and accounting is an important task for any business. Property management is a vertical market served by numerous computer software vendors to make the task of tracking income, expenses, security deposits and depreciation easier. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive review of options, but rather to give a high level view of how a smaller landlord might choose the best option for their needs.
As a degreed accountant, a computer professional for over 25 years and the owner-operator of a service business for 11 years, I have seen several approaches to accounting and bookkeeping. Approaches from green bar tabular pads to computer spreadsheets, personal computer general ledger software and dedicated property management applications all the way up to computer mainframe based GL systems tracking billions of dollars. Even keeping my own books up to date, I often envision Bob Cratchit working late into the night to keep the journals current for Scrooge.
Despite making a number of very strong arguments, and despite filing the suit far from Chicago and Cook County, the law firms challenging the constitutionality of Governor Pritzker’s eviction moratorium were told to go back to the Will County Circuit Court for a final ruling on the case.
In a recent ruling, the Third District Appellate Court refused to hear the appeal. Its reason for doing so was that the Circuit Court had not ruled on all the issues raised in the complaint. Because there were unresolved claims still pending in the Circuit Court case, the Appellate Court found it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The Appellate Court did, however, affirm the denial of the Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court stated that, irrespective of the merits of the Plaintiff’s arguments, the State of Illinois has a strong interest in preserving public health which strongly outweighs whatever harm the Plaintiff suffered due to the moratorium.
The struggles across our economy have been sadly documented these past 14 months. But rental housing providers have endured not only the economic challenges from the pandemic, but also an onslaught of ill-conceived legislation that is causing a crippling effect on the Chicago metropolitan area’s housing industry. Left on its current course, these policies will have disastrous consequences.
According to a recent survey of rental housing providers owning approximately 60,000 apartment units throughout the Chicago area conducted by the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance and Essex Realty Group, Inc., 27% of respondents reported rent collections below the industry standard for breaking even; roughly half of housing providers have tenants more than 180 days in arrears; and approximately 9% of all rental payments for the past 12 months are past due; and 65% of those surveyed anticipate making fewer capital improvements. It is important to note that approximately three quarters of the survey respondents are small and mid-sized housing providers who own fewer than 100 rental units.
Tobias Bechloff and Heather Miller just signed a three-year contract with the Park District to operate The Loyola Beach House at 1230 W Greenleaf. The process was neither quick nor easy. But, now that the contract is signed, the couple is working hard to transform the building from its current ramshackle condition into the showplace they both know it can be. They are going to call their new restaurant the Ropa Cabana (short for ROgers PArk). It’s easy to find at the end of Greenleaf, right next to the Loyola Beach Playground.
Heather has lived in Rogers Park since 2005 and says she wouldn’t live anywhere else. She met Tobias, a German national, when he was in Chicago several years back during the airing of his documentary, "No More Things," at the Beloit Film Festival. The two are now married and still living in Rogers Park.
Steve Cain
Five months into 2021, I think we can all agree that things are looking a lot better for the city, the country and the economy than they did this time a year ago. Of course, there is one big reason for this. After a somewhat rocky start, the COVID-19 vaccination program is progressing across the country. As I write this article, more than 50% of all Americans have now received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number continues to rise with every passing day. The expanding vaccination program is having a measurable, beneficial effect on transmissions and hospitalizations. Equally importantly, it is helping people feel more optimistic again about the future.
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Rogers Park Builders Group encourages and supports responsible residential and commercial property investment, development, and ownership in the Rogers Park community.