Affordable Housing Ordinance Poised To Roll In Along The 606

By Stephen Gossett in News on Mar 10, 2017 7:07PM

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The 606. Photo by Braden Nesin/Chicagoist

The 606 was a magnet for anti-gentrification demonstrations last year—and that was even before a report detailed just how sharply housing costs have spiked near the popular rail-to-trail pathway. Two aldermen whose wards fall in affected areas are now looking to reverse the trend.

Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st) and Roberto Maldonado (26th) are developing an ordinance that would reportedly raise fees to de-convert multiple-unit residences into single-family units. Moreno's office told Chicagoist that they were not ready to release specific details of the ordinance until it's closer to finalization, but First Ward Chief of Staff Raymond Valadez confirmed that "a 606 affordable housing preservation ordinance is in the works."

The news—first reported by Steven Vance in Chicago Cityscape and then on Friday in the Tribune—largely dovetails with previous nuggets of information about a potential ordinance given by Moreno at dinner-and-discussion about gentrification last month. He told constituents that public money could be available for property owners who renovate but keep rents affordable. That talk, which garnered criticism for its cost, was protested by activists who insist Moreno hasn't done enough to curb the trend.

In addition to the de-conversion fee, the ordinance will reportedly also raise the demolition fee in the applicable area (which is yet to be made known) so that existing home and rental property is maintained. (A closer look at how de-conversion reduces both housing and rental stock, by Daniel Kay Hertz, can be found here.)

According to an analysis last year by DePaul's Institute for Housing Studies, single-family home prices rose a staggering 48.2 percent in Logan Square and Humboldt Park, and the median price of west-of-Western homes near The 606 shot up by some $100,000.

In a recent study that showed crime has dropped along The 606 compared to other, similar areas, lead author Brandon Harris stressed that such amenities must not only be for a select few. “Cities must be very careful when constructing a trail through a minority enclave. Revitalized spaces can be transformative, but they must be inclusive, safe and welcoming to all parties.,” Harris wrote.