As I See It: Never a More Important Time to Join Your Neighborhood Building Owners Association

 

Mike Glasser, RPBG President
Winter, 2021

 

In 1992, a group of apartment building owners and real estate developers in Rogers Park established the Rogers Park Builders Group (RPBG).

High interest rates, buildings falling into foreclosure and rising crime caused a lot of investors to stay away from Rogers Park. But many of us building owners and managers, including a few folks whose families called Rogers Park home for generations, believed in the promise of our neighborhood. We joined forces, raised some money and invested in a public relations campaign designed to inspire investment in Rogers Park.

Our PR campaign and unceasing vigilance, combined with a drop in interest rates, sparked new investment and brought about huge improvements to Rogers Park.

Since those early days nearly thirty years ago, the Rogers Park Builders Group, and the community we support, have undergone tremendous positive change.

We have made substantial investments in our buildings. Our retail corridors—though impacted by COVID this past year—are showing unprecedented vitality.

Membership in RPBG increases steadily each year, especially when market conditions are strong and real estate professionals seek opportunities to network and learn about investment opportunities. Yet, it is when times are challenging that the value of membership in a neighborhood building owner’s group like the Rogers Park Builders Group has its greatest value.

Working our way through this crisis

How do we honor our commitment to keep tenants in their apartments during a pandemic when some tenants are not able to pay rent, others simply refuse to pay and we have no access to the courts?

By imposing overly broad eviction moratoriums, our state government and the courts have placed the responsibility for housing people, regardless of their ability or willingness to pay for that housing, solely on the shoulders of private landlords. We in the industry point out that grocery stores are not required to give away free food to the hungry and pharmacies are not required to provide free medicine to the sick, and yet landlords are expected to provide free housing to their tenants.

The government is finally beginning to respond to this conundrum through emergency rental assistance. Implementation of this “solution” is unfolding as we speak. State and local governments, including the City of Chicago, are preparing to distribute billions of dollars in federal rental assistance.

But how can the government undertake this Herculean task? How can they make sure that the right information about applying for funds reaches housing providers and their tenants most in need of assistance?

Neighborhood building owner organizations like the RPBG will play a pivotal role in this process. Through our umbrella advocacy group, the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance (NBOA), we are working with the City of Chicago Department of Housing to map out a plan for distributing the funds fairly and equitably and assisting the department in getting the word out to housing providers throughout Chicago.

Defending our interests against an onslaught of burdensome new legislation

Whether it’s the City of Chicago imposing unreasonable notice requirements for rent increases and non-renewals, or Cook County severely restricting our ability to check criminal backgrounds of prospective tenants, or the State considering laws mandating sealing of evictions and lifting the ban on rent control, we property owners must remain informed and, when necessary, advocate for our interests and legal rights.

As one of eight neighborhood building organizations that comprise the NBOA, a membership in the RPBG also supports the critical mission of the NBOA, which advocates on behalf of neighborhood building owners, whose well-being is critical to the stability of rental housing throughout the Chicago area.

Through membership in RPBG, housing providers remain informed about the status of recently enacted and proposed legislation, assuring that their operations remain in compliance with the new byzantine laws and regulations.

Networking

Our meetings always provide outstanding opportunities for folks in the real estate community to meet and mingle with others and drum up new business. The pandemic has made networking much more challenging (and far less personal), yet organizations such as the RPBG are responding. Just last month, our “Trends in the Industry” workshop brought together nearly 100 professionals. Through the use of breakout rooms, groups of eight to ten folks had a chance to network and form new relationships and rekindle old ones. RPBG will soon have some additional virtual events, such as our popular Best Practices Workshop and a beer tasting, where folks can meet and mingle. And before you know it, we’ll be able to meet in person again!

Could there be a more important time for real estate investors, property managers and other real estate professionals to join a neighborhood building owner group like the RPBG?

For more information about the benefits of RPBG, contact our membership chair Greg Jones, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By affiliating with our peers, we will see our way through this crisis and become more enriched and better able to withstand these unparalleled challenges.

Hope to see you at our next meeting!