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Two Chicago groups win MacArthur grants

Two Chicago-based non-profits, Community Investment Corporation and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, have won prestigious MacArthur Foundation grants. 

Community Investment Corporation buys troubled apartment buildings and sells them to owners who will take better care of them. (Photo/CIC)

The MacArthur Foundation is known for giving genius grants to creative people, but the group also makes annual awards to creative institutions.  This year’s awards span the globe from Uganda to Mexico to here in Chicago, where the MacArthur Foundation is based.

MacArthur President Robert Gallucci says locally, they wanted to focus on housing.

"Housing is connected to so many other issues we care about in terms of the condition of people," Gallucci said. "It's connected to the quality of their education, their health, their overall coherence in the family, and in Chicago, housing has been particularly hard-hit."

Community Investment Corporation is receiving $2 million. CIC President Jack Markowski says they’ll use the money to create more affordable rental housing in Chicago neighborhoods hard-hit by foreclosures.

"The whole intention is to buy bad buildings - non-functioning, distressed buildings - and get them into the hands of good owners who will rehab them and manage them well," Markowski said. BPI is getting $750,000, in part to train recent law school and public-policy grads in public interest law and advocacy as part of their Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship Program.

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