Over the years we have seen development downtown and well-to-do neighborhoods continue, while local neighborhoods of moderate and lower-incomes continue to struggle. I and other Aldermen have consistently brought this to the attention of the last two mayors and sought a way to connect development downtown to Chicago’s neighborhoods. I’m pleased to announce Mayor Emanuel responded to this concern and convened an advisory group to look at how we could indeed help local neighborhoods gain from this growth. The results of our expressed concerns and the recommendations that came out of the advisory group deserve applaud. I am proud to say I am a co-sponsor of an amendment to the Affordable Housing Requirement Ordinance (ARO) which last Wednesday passed out of the Committee on Housing and is now headed to the full City Council to become law. As a result of this ARO, provisions have been added to ensure neighborhood development benefits from the development of rental property and for-sale residential property taking place in affluent areas of the city.
Currently, the ARO is triggered when development projects receive a zoning change, use city land, or receive financial assistance from the city of Chicago to build a residential project with ten or more units. If a development meets those criteria, then 10% of units must be affordable or 20% if they received financial assistance from the City.
The enhancements passed this week at the Committee on Housing will create three different zones in the city to better reflect current housing markets and priorities. The three zones will be: downtown, higher-income census tracts, and low-moderate income census tracts.
The fee developers have to pay has increased from $100,000 to $225,000 per unit in the downtown zone to avoid including the 10%-20% penalty. The “in-lieu fee” option offered in this case would be to build new affordable units or restore foreclosed properties in local neighborhoods. The in-lieu fee for units not provided on-site has now been changed to $125,000 in higher-income census tracts. We have reduced the fee to $50,000 in low-moderate census tracts. By lowering the penalty to $50K in low-moderate census tracts, we intend to motivate more construction. This amended ordinance will help our neighborhoods grow and restore property values. We project this new ordinance will have an impact of 5,000 new for sale and affordable housing units over the next five years depending on the market staying solid.
As an Alderman, I needed to add my voice to the housing crisis and positive neighborhood development. The results of our advocacy and Mayor Emanuel acting on our advocacy, has resulted in this new Affordable Requirement Ordinance. This ordinance will ensure that our neighborhoods are not left behind anymore while affluent downtown loop areas see continued development of luxury housing. Tying new developments to investments in affluent areas to housing in the neighborhoods helps us ensure we maintain quality housing options for all residents of the city of Chicago. “We Are Getting Things Done!”