Serving on The Night Ministry's Board of Directors is an extension of the professional life of Bennett Applegate, Jr. Applegate is an attorney whose legal practice focuses on the financing and development of affordable housing.
"If you look at the spectrum of housing solutions, I'm involved in the area of permanent housing, whereas The Night Ministry is focused on the beginning stages of an individual's journey to greater stability," said Applegate. "It's rewarding to be involved in both ends of that continuum through my work as an attorney and also my service on the Board of The Night Ministry."
Applegate began his relationship with The Night Ministry while earning his MBA and JD from Northwestern University. As a Kellogg Board fellow, he served as an ex-officio member of The Night Ministry's Board of Directors, working on special projects while gaining experience in board governance. He stayed connected to the agency after graduation and joined the Board as a full member in 2019.
"What I really appreciate about The Night Ministry is its combination of sophistication and flexibility. The agency is able to provide a high quality of care while also literally meeting people where they are at, which is something that not all nonprofits are able to accomplish," Applegate said.
Like much of the rest of the country, in Chicago the demand for affordable housing outweighs the supply. Bennett said availability of funding to support the development of new units is limited.
"Tax credits are the primary financial tool utilized to create more affordable housing units. And while those tax credits have incrementally become more accessible, decreases in other federal and state funding that has historically been used to develop affordable housing and provide related supportive service make these projects difficult to get off the ground," he said.
"But it's more than just increasing funding," Bennett said. "Projects must fit within the often competing regulatory and underwriting requirements of both public and private funding sources. This not only increases the cost of development but also narrows the population that the housing can serve. Very often it leaves out populations who need housing but for different reasons don't qualify, such as ex-offenders or youth experiencing homelessness."
"The solution is not only having more sources of funding but making sure that funding is flexible and broad enough that more populations who need housing will qualify."