Community First Newsletter - December 2021

  • December 8, 2021

Community First® Award Nominations Now Open

The annual Community First Awards recognize Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBank Chicago) member institutions and local partners for their work in building and strengthening communities. Nominations are accepted in four categories – Affordable Housing; Economic Development; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Emerging Leader – and awardees identify a nonprofit organization to receive up to $10,000 on their behalf. The deadline for nominations is January 14, 2022. For more information on award categories and to submit a nomination, please see the nomination form.


$29.2 Million Awarded Through 2021 Affordable Housing Program General Fund

FHLBank Chicago announced that it has awarded $29.2 million in grants through the 2021 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) General Fund. Forty-nine awards were made to support the new construction, acquisition, and/or rehabilitation of over 2,315 housing units. For more details, read the announcement.


2021 Community First® Capacity-Building Grant Recipients

On November 19, FHLBank Chicago announced the 2021 recipients of its Community First Capacity-Building Grant Program. Six nonprofit lenders, in partnership with five members, were awarded a combined total of $300,000 to build the capacity of their organizations. Uses of funds include marketing and branding, information technology and system upgrades, staff professional development, and more. To learn about this year’s award recipients, watch our video


2022 Downpayment Plus® Program

The 2022 Downpayment Plus (DPP®) and Downpayment Plus Advantage® (DPP Advantage®) Programs will open Tuesday, January 18. In 2022, participating members may reserve up to $420,000 in the general pool on a first-come, first-served basis to help their income-eligible borrowers with down payment and closing costs. There is no limit in the DPP Advantage pool, which allows members to access downpayment assistance on behalf of income eligible homebuyers obtaining their first mortgages from nonprofit lenders. Learn about key changes to the 2022 programs by reading our recent bulletin and registering for a 2022 DPP webinar. Contact 312-565-5824 or with any questions.


Community Small Business Advance

FHLBank Chicago’s Community Small Business Advance provides members with zero-rate financing (0%) to support small business lending in income-eligible communities throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. There is no longer an individual member limit of $250,000 in interest-rate subsidy for the remainder of the 2021 program year. To participate, members must complete the Community Small Business Advance application and demonstrate the eligibility of the small business as outlined in the application. Contact with any questions.


2022 Affordable Housing Program Announced

FHLBank Chicago’s Board of Directors recently approved the 2022 AHP Implementation Plan (Plan). The Plan outlines requirements and guidelines applicable to the Downpayment Plus Programs and the AHP General Fund. Significant changes to the 2022 Plan are summarized below.

Downpayment Plus Programs

  • Homebuyer education and counseling must be provided by a HUD Approved Counseling Agency, or an online platform approved by FHLBank Chicago.
  • As a principle of equity, grant amount will no longer be linked to homebuyer contribution. The minimum homebuyer contribution of $1,000 remains a program requirement.

AHP General Fund

  • Homebuyer education and counseling must be provided by a HUD Approved Counseling Agency, or an online platform approved by FHLBank Chicago.
  • For rental projects utilizing the 9% Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the member/sponsor must provide evidence of the LIHTC award and a letter of interest or intent for the LIHTC equity. If these items are not available as of the June 10 application deadline, then they must be submitted by August 1, 2022.
  • Changes have been made to the operating cost per unit.
  • The chart of numeric Adjusted Development Cost per Unit (ADCU) feasibility guidelines has been eliminated in favor of deference to the cost guidelines of the majority funder for in-district projects. For in-district projects where there is no majority funder (i.e., no single source is financing more than 50% of total project costs), FHLBank Chicago will assess the ADCU using its internal cost model.
  • The Elimination of Blight scoring category is removed for 2022. These four points have been moved to a new scoring category called Projects Serving Low-Income Minority Areas.


Introducing the 2022 Community Investment Advisory Council

FHLBank Chicago’s Board of Directors recently reappointed five members of the Community Investment Advisory Council to a second term of service. Read more about the returning members. We are excited to continue working with these affordable housing and community lending leaders!

Letter From the Advisory Council Leadership

As we close out 2021, another year affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we take time to reflect on the impact of “staying home”, and how it relates to our work in affordable housing. We know that lower income households have been disproportionately impacted by the lack of a stable place to call home during this pandemic. This has caused ripples through our economy, as well as our healthcare and education systems, as individuals and families struggle to stay healthy and navigate the hurdles of this uncertain time. Our work as affordable housing and economic development advocates has never been more important than it is today.

In 2021, the Advisory Council continued to engage in quarterly Deep Dive Discussions on topics of critical importance, all of which supported the Bank’s broader goal of “Community-Building.” These timely topics covered economic development as well as housing challenges seen throughout our district, including:

  • Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Small Businesses:  Chicago Community Loan Fund, a member of FHLBank Chicago and a Community First® Fund Partner, led a discussion highlighting the need for capital for small businesses, especially in communities that have been traditionally underbanked or limited in their access to capital. The conversation underscored the critical role of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in pandemic relief and recovery activities.
  • Systemic challenges to Minority Homeownership and Wealth Creation: A panel of experts led a group discussion around closing the racial appraisal gap, and supporting financial literacy and homeownership counseling for underserved communities. This discussion ultimately informed the creation of a new FHLBank Chicago voluntary program to support homeownership education and counseling for underserved homebuyers.
  • Community-Building: Beyond Affordable HousingCedric Thurman, FHLBank Chicago’s Chief Diversity Officer, facilitated discussion around the idea that our affordable housing and community development work supports our broader commitment to community-building. Members of the group discussed the impact on communities of population decline, lack of access to grocery stores, and lack of broadband connectivity. Highlighted was the critical need for partnerships across industries to successfully navigate these issues and strengthen communities.
  • Native American Housing and Economic Barriers and Opportunities: A panel, including FHLBank Chicago member Bay Bank, discussed the critical need for affordable housing and economic development among Native American communities across Wisconsin and Illinois, including those located on tribal lands as well as in other rural or urban areas.  

In 2022, the Advisory Council will continue its quarterly Deep Dive Discussions on these and other topics of critical importance in our district. Our goal will be to continue supporting the Bank’s commitment to community-building.  

In service,

Jackie L. Newman, Chair

David Porterfield, Vice Chair


Project Spotlight: South Village Homeowner Rehab

In 2019 FHLBank Chicago awarded a $360,000 AHP General Fund grant to Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity, Inc. through Busey Bank to assist 24 homeowners with the rehabilitation of their home in Peoria, Illinois. South Village Homeowner Rehab program successfully completed ten roof replacements in 2020 totaling $193,402 in rehab costs and five in 2021 totaling $114,463. Read more about this transformative project.


Upcoming Events:

  • December 9 | 2021 FHLBank Chicago Community Advances Webinar
  • December 13 | 2022 FHLBank Chicago Downpayment Plus Programs Webinar
  • December 16 | 2022 FHLBank Chicago Downpayment Plus Programs Webinar
  • January 10 | 2022 FHLBank Chicago Downpayment Plus Programs Webinar  


Contact Us

Please direct all media inquiries to:

Casey Reidy 
Director, Communications

Heather Bockstruck
Assistant Director, Communications