Year after year, officials at Mercy Housing Lakefront watched as apartment complexes in suburban Chicago that were home to working-class families went up for sale. They would try to buy each building so that they could preserve that segment of the area’s affordable housing stock. Again and again, they lost bids to private investors that had more money and could close deals faster. Too often, successful buyers would turn these properties into luxury condominiums. In other cases, apartment...

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