CRE Midwest

See how CRE firms are making an impact on Chicago's South Side


In response to the need for more affordable housing, Chicago commercial real estate professionals have stepped in to help build homes for families on the city's South Side.

In response to the need for more affordable housing, Chicago commercial real estate professionals have stepped in to help build homes for families in the city's South Side area.

In a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Related Realty, Giveback Homes, and DocuSign volunteers recently worked on the construction of a home in the city's West Pullman neighborhood. Building the house at 11939 S. Union Ave., is part of an initiative to build 34 homes in the area by 2018.

Giveback Home, a community of philanthropic real estate professionals dedicated to giving back in their communities and around the world, makes it possible for individuals in the same industry to work together outside of their respected market sectors, for a good cause.

Gary Richter, a broker at Related Realty, was the first to sign up when Giveback Homes launched in Chicago earlier this year. Like other member agents, Richter donates a portion of his commissions – in his clients’ names, in lieu of the typical closing gift – to sponsor building projects and participate in the build-out of the homes he’s helped fund. Since the group’s launch in 2013, members have participated in 12 U.S. Build Days and funded over 60 complete homes in Haiti, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

“When I learned that Giveback Homes was coming to Chicago, I was excited to join the effort, with an initial goal of raising enough money to build just one home,” Richter said. “Not only did my Related Realty colleagues help me exceed that goal – we raised more than $3,000 in individual donations and company-matching funds – but we also have more than $1,000 lined up for the next Chicago home build in spring 2017. It always feels good to give back, and as real estate professionals, what better way than to provide homes to the families who need them most?”

In addition to the West Pullman project, Richter has contributed to builds in Haiti and Nicaragua, where he will be traveling in November to participate in the construction of another new home. He also plans to assist with subsequent builds in Chicago.

“While the build was a long day of hard work alongside my colleagues and the new homeowners, it was great to see the fruits of our labor,” Richter said. “It’s my hope that our work inspires more real estate professionals in Chicago and across the country to join in the effort to create high-quality, affordable houses that families can call home.”

Also lending a helping hand is Rockwell Partners, who recently joined forces with Essex Realty Group, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity Chicago to “give back” and help build several homes in the West Pullman Neighborhood of Chicago.

Approximately 30 employees from the two companies took part in this volunteer event that Rockwell plans to make an annual occurrence. Working with experienced construction supervisors from Habitat for Humanity Chicago, the Rockwell team worked on several homes in varying phases of completion, doing everything from exterior yard and roof work to construction, as well as interior painting and finishes.

“The idea behind our Habitat for Humanity day was to give back to the community we serve, and the Habitat for Humanity organization was an ideal match for us.  It was extremely rewarding working together on a project that will soon be brand new homes for multiple families,” said Rockwell Partners Principal, Pat Bader.