Mayor Emanuel Announces Chicago Home Buyer Assistance Program Is Accepting Applications

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust today announced the Chicago Home Buyer Assistance Program is now accepting applications from families and individuals looking to buy a home in Chicago or refinance an existing mortgage. The program helps make home ownership possible for working families and individuals by providing support for down payment and closing costs.

“The Home Buyer Assistance Program is another important tool in our toolkit for building stronger neighborhoods throughout the City of Chicago. I am proud that lenders are now accepting applications and I encourage anyone who is interested to apply today,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By putting more families on the path to homeownership, we will help more communities thrive. So I look forward to watching this program grow and help to build a stronger economic foundation for the City of Chicago.”

The program currently has three approved lenders/servicers now accepting applications: Guaranteed Rate, American Financial Network and Home Trust Mortgage. These lenders now are accepting and processing applications. Guaranteed Rate was the first approved lender/servicer to make the program available to residents.

The program will assist a broad range of families and individuals that include middle- and low-income households looking to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. First-time home buyers must complete a home buyer education course when participating in the program. Depending on loan type, qualified home buyers can have an annual income limit of up to approximately $133,000.

Through the program, qualified buyers may receive a grant for up to 7 percent of the total loan amount. For example, for a loan amount of $250,000, a borrower could receive a grant of no more than $17,500 to cover down payment and closing costs. Qualified borrowers are required to contribute the lesser or $1,000 or 1 percent of home purchase price at the closing.

“Home ownership is a key component in investing in our 77 neighborhoods throughout our City. Homeowners are the foundation in every Chicago community that promote safe neighborhoods for families to live, play and work. I look forward to increasing the approved lenders list in the weeks
to come to ensure success of the home buyer assistance program," said City Treasurer Kurt Summers and Chairman of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust.

The City is providing up to $1 million to launch the Home Buyer Assistance Program, which will become self-sustaining over time. The program is administered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which works with the authorized lending institutions.

All buyers must occupy the home as their primary residence and must reside in the property for at least five years before selling or refinancing. If the home is sold or refinanced before that time, the homeowner will have to pay back a prorated amount of the grant. After five years of on-time mortgage payments, the grant is completely forgiven.

To learn more about the Home Buyer Assistance Program and to view a complete list of approved lenders, please visit: or

Mayor Emanuel Announces Initiative to Improve Quality & Reliability of Chicago’s Streetlights

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today launched a major initiative to upgrade more than 270,000 of the city’s street, alley and park lights to more reliable and higher-quality lighting. Over the next four years the Chicago Smart Lighting Project will improve safety and quality-of-life in neighborhoods across Chicago by replacing nearly all of the city’s outdated and inefficient High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps. The project will be one of the largest municipal lighting modernization programs in the country.

“By bringing our outdoor lighting into the 21st century, we will make our streets, sidewalks, alleys, and bike paths safer and improve the quality of life throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods” said Mayor Emanuel. “New lights will provide more reliable and improved nighttime visibility, giving communities a greater sense of safety. The process to achieve this for our communities may be complex, but improving our streetlights while creating jobs and strengthening our neighborhoods is a no brainer.”

The project will improve lighting quality and reliability throughout Chicago. It will utilize LED lights, which typically last three times longer than the current HPS lights, reducing the number of outages the system experiences. Public safety will be improved with clearer, brighter and more focused lighting. Additionally, the city’s responsiveness to outages will be improved with a lighting management system that will provide real-time updates when outages occur. The city currently relies on resident reporting of outages through the 311 system.

Replacement of the HPS lamps will come at no additional cost to Chicago taxpayers. The new lights will consume 50-75 percent less electricity than HPS lights, generating significant electricity cost savings that will be used to finance the cost of the modernization.

In coordination with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), and the Chicago Park District, the Smart Lighting Project is being spearheaded by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT), which launches the procurement process on Monday by issuing a Request for Qualifications and Proposals (RFQ/P).

“As we move to the next phase in this important project, CIT is committed to strategic investment in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods,” CIT Chairman Kurt Summers said. “Our infrastructure investments must address the ranging needs and priorities of working families, thus community participation in this process is critical to deliver a high value project for Chicago taxpayers.”

The program will replace approximately 85 percent of the city’s outdoor lights. The focus will be on the most common fixture types; ornamental fixtures may be converted in later stages.The project will include a public engagement process to solicit input from residents about preferences and priorities for neighborhood lighting. CDOT will continue to make targeted repairs or replacement of poles and wiring as part of the city’s capital program.

“CDOT receives more than 100 calls each day to report lighting outages,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “The new lighting management system that will be part of the Chicago Smart Lighting Project will greatly improve the efficiency of city forces and allow us to respond proactively when outages do occur and restore service more quickly. The longer life of LED lights will also greatly improve the reliability of our lighting system, enhancing safety for Chicago residents.”

The RFQ/P will continue the progress Mayor Emanuel has made in ensuring city initiatives are designed to generate investments and jobs in the neighborhoods that need them most. The RFQ/P will require bidders to include a plan for maximizing the participation of Chicago’s workforce. The Project pre-submittal conference will be on May 3 at the new Malcolm X College Conference Center at 1900 W. Jackson Blvd. RFQ/P Part I responses will be due May 20.

All contracts with the selected bidder(s) will go before the City Council for approval. The work is expected to start early next year. Chicago’s streetlights will continue to be owned and operated by the city of Chicago.

The RFQ is available on the CIT’s website at Responses are due back to the CIT on Friday, May 20, 2016.

Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Infrastructure Trust Announce Plans to Modernize City Lighting

Project Seeks to Revamp City Street Lighting Fixtures and Infrastructure and Chicago Park District Pathway Lighting Without Additional Taxpayer Funds

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) today released a Request for Information (RFI) for the Chicago Smart Lighting Project, which seeks to update the City of Chicago’s electric lighting infrastructure. The goal of the Smart Lighting Project is to transition the City’s and Parks’ lighting to LED technology and to replace outdated infrastructure to achieve efficiencies, cost savings, and improved performance. A large-scale conversion to more environmentally friendly LED technology will reduce electricity use and utility costs. This overhaul of City lighting fixtures and Chicago Park District pathway lighting will be financed through cost savings and potentially, new revenue sources that do not include additional taxpayer funds.

“By improving lighting throughout the City of Chicago, we will continue to find more cost efficient ways to operate and provide longer lasting services for city residents,” said Mayor Emanuel. “In addition, ensuring that our neighborhood streets and parks are appropriately lit creates better living environments for our residents.”

There are approximately 348,500 outdoor lights across the City, including street, alley, viaduct, pathway, and lakefront lights. The lights are all maintained by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District and will continue to be maintained by the City and Park District during this project and after its completion.

Like other municipal and local government entities throughout the country, the City and Parks are under fiscal constraints that limit their ability to fund substantial infrastructure projects with taxpayer dollars. These challenges, however, provide the public sector with unique opportunities for partnering with private sector funders and businesses to develop and deliver upgraded infrastructure projects that not only improve services, but reduce costs, and generate new revenue.

“This project provides the Infrastructure Trust with an opportunity to partner with the City to modernize lighting in our neighborhoods, while delivering cost and energy efficiencies to the City,” said CIT Executive Director Leslie Darling.

In addition to the energy savings benefits to the City, the Chicago Smart Lighting Project may also include several non-lighting technology upgrades in which the City uses streetlights as a platform to deliver other public goods and services. By raising revenues or eliminating costs, these ancillary technologies and services may help fund themselves as well as the desired lighting upgrades.

The CIT will lead the effort to create a more detailed plan to execute the City’s vision for a more energy efficient, durable, lower-cost and reliable lighting system. This infrastructure investment will create jobs, increase the quality of life for our residents, and improve operating conditions for our businesses, while the City maintains control of all lighting assets included in the project.

Mayor Emanuel established the Chicago Infrastructure Trust as a way to provide alternative financing and project delivery on infrastructure projects to the City of Chicago, its sister agencies and its residents. The CIT’s mission is to invest in infrastructure projects that benefit Chicago’s residents and grow the economy while protecting taxpayers. To accomplish this, the Trust secures innovative financing to attract capital from private investors. By tapping into funding from private investors, the City of Chicago is able to improve service to its residents and provide better access to facilities, expand and accelerate infrastructure development and improvements beyond the capacity of public funds and city resources, create jobs and reduce operating overhead at no cost to taxpayers.

“Modernizing our lighting system would be a meaningful investment in a core element of our city's infrastructure and has the potential to enhance public safety in every community across Chicago, which must always be our top priority,” Chair of the Trust and City Treasurer Kurt Summers said. “This first undertaking as a new board is a critical step to ensuring we consider all opportunities, stay true to our mission and deliver impactful results for future generations.”

The RFI is available on the CIT’s website at Responses are due back to the CIT on Monday, November 16, 2015.

Trust Launches Open Bidding Process for Metal Reclamation Initiative

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust has launched a Competitive Open Bidding Process for its Metal Reclamation initiative.

It follows receipt of an unsolicited proposal to extract metal from City and Chicago Park District land and with the assurance that the land will be returned to its pre-project and/or enhanced state and provide a revenue stream to the City/Trust.

Any party that wishes to offer its proposal for this program is invited to do so at by July 8, 2015 at 12 PM CST. If the Trust receives additional proposals from interested parties (other than from the proponent of the initial unsolicited proposal) as a result of this Open Bidding Process, it will select the best candidate(s) from the pool of interested parties. 

For more detail on the Metal Reclamation initiative and Open Bidding Process, please click here.

The Trust’s Contracting Manual is available here.


Illinois and Chicago Top Clean-Tech Index

The City of Chicago now ranks among the Top 10 metro areas with regard to clean technology leadership, according to an annual report compiled by the U.S. Clean Leadership Index. Previously, the City was listed in 12th place.

According to the report, cited in an article by Crain’s Chicago Business, the City’s ranking improved because of improvement in investment, innovation and workforce,” crediting Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his creation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust.


Trust Introduces Housing Initiative at Community Development Forum

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust publicly introduced its Housing initiative at a community development forum hosted by Housing Action Illinois on May 5, 2015 in Chicago, an event supported by Wells Fargo Bank.

The New Chicago Bungalow: A Flexible, Affordable and Sustainable Archetype for 21st Century Chicago was paneled by:

– Catherine Baker, Landon Bone Baker Architects

– Andrew Geer, Enterprise Community Partners

– Bryan Esenberg, City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development

– Charisse Conanan Johnson, Chicago Infrastructure Trust

– Mary Ellen Guest, Historic Chicago Bungalow Association (Moderator)


The Trust’s presentation is available here.

Trust Wins CDFA Excellence Award for Municipal Buildings Retrofit

The Illinois chapter of the Council of Development Finance Agencies (“CDFA”) has bestowed the Chicago Infrastructure Trust with an Excellence Award related to the Municipal Buildings Retrofit initiative.

“Each year CDFA is proud to honor excellence in development finance. The work of our award winners is cutting-edge, innovative, and an example of best practices in our industry,” said Toby Rittner, CDFA President & CEO.

Through an innovative, tax-exempt Energy Services Agreement (“ESA”) deal, structured by the Trust, 60 City buildings across 36 Wards are nearing completion of transformative energy conservation upgrades at no upfront cost to the City of Chicago. 

The CDFA Illinois Financing Roundtable Excellence Awards recognize outstanding development finance programs, agencies, projects, and success stories. These awards, presented at the CDFA Illinois Financing Roundtable Conference, honor excellence in the use of financing tools for economic development, as well as the individuals who champion those efforts.

The complete CDFA press release is available here.

Municipal Buildings Retrofit Wins Energy Efficiency Award

The Municipal Buildings Retrofit, as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda, has been awarded the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (MEEA) 2015 Inspiring Efficiency Impact Award.

“Retrofit Chicago strengthens Chicago by accelerating energy efficiency across the city,” said Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer with the City of Chicago. “Retrofit Chicago works with multiple partners to make it easier for residents and businesses to access the resources they need to make their homes and businesses more efficient, saving dollars and reducing emissions.”

“Mayor Emanuel has a bold vision for the role energy efficiency plays in helping to make Chicago a more affordable, competitive, attractive, livable and sustainable city,” said Stacey Paradis, MEEA interim executive director. “MEEA is pleased to recognize the City of Chicago and Retrofit Chicago for its successful, cross-sector approach to improving energy efficiency.”

Bestowed annually at the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, MEEA’s Inspiring Efficiency Impact Award is presented to an organization that has made a significant contribution to market transformation either through the implementation of a specific program or through a policy change.

The full press release is available here.

Trust Brokers $32.5M 4G Deal on CTA’s Behalf

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced a $32.5 million deal, brokered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, with America’s four major wireless providers – T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint – to finance a network modernization project for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to upgrade the wireless network in the City’s subway system. T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have collectively agreed to fund the entire upgrade related to the design and construction of a next-generation Distributed Antenna System (DAS) capable of supporting the latest 4G wireless networks and mobile devices.

“By adding 4G wireless service all throughout the CTA, we are bringing 21st century technology to every rider on every line of our 21st century transit system,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This is another way that we are investing in a modern CTA to encourage ridership, make Chicago more economically competitive, and open up more economic opportunities to more residents throughout the city.”

The network upgrade, which began earlier this month, will help improve first responder communications throughout the tunnel system, while also giving the millions of Chicago subway riders the opportunity to have a faster mobile experience throughout their commutes. The design and installation of the system will create approximately 50 jobs.

“The current wireless technology in Chicago’s subway system dates back ten years, predating most smartphones and many mobile devices,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer, T-Mobile, the project’s lead wireless provider. “On behalf of the four national wireless providers, we, along with the CTA, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, are thrilled to bring the millions of Chicago subway riders the benefits of an improved wireless experience and we are committed to a strong partnership and successful implementation.”

Upon completion of the network upgrade, which is expected by the end of 2015, the City of Chicago will be the largest city in North America to have a subway system with full 4G wireless coverage across its entire system of subway stations and tunnels. Specifically, there will be continuous 4G coverage crossing 22 miles from O’Hare airport through the underground tunnels and platforms of the Red and Blue Lines, the CTA’s two busiest rail lines.

“The network modernization project not only improves our commuters’ experience by offering faster and more robust wireless services that supports today’s tablets and smartphones, but it also increases system safety measures by providing more reliable communication between CTA personnel and emergency responders,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.

This initiative is one of several efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Claypool to modernize the City’s infrastructure and further improve Chicago’s world-class transit system. Over the past three years, several technology improvements have been implemented across Chicago’s transit system, including expansion of Train Tracker and Bus Tracker functionality, digital information and train tracker screens at rail stations, and a dramatically expanded security camera network.

About the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
The CTA operates the nation’s second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, approximately 1.7 million rides are taken on the CTA.

About the Chicago Infrastructure Trust
The Chicago Infrastructure Trust was created in April 2012 by executive order of Mayor Emanuel and City Council resolution. The Trust’s purpose is to assist the people of the City of Chicago, the City government and its sister agencies in providing alternative financing and project delivery options for transformative infrastructure projects. Visit the Trust’s website at


A link to the Mayor’ press release is available here.