The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Amid Hostilities, Aldermen Pledge To Bring More Affordable Housing To Wards

By Stephen Gossett in News on May 10, 2017 10:56PM

Photo via Flickr user brian kelly

At least seven aldermen from the North and Northwest Sides are reportedly on board to add a minimum of 50 affordable housing units, backed by the Chicago Housing Authority within their wards.

Hanging over the recent announcement was the at-times racially charged blowback that's been launched against an affordable housing development intended to cater in part to veterans and the disabled, in Jefferson Park—a neighborhood that has exhibited similar pushback in the past as well.

"Recent efforts to establish affordable housing on the Northwest Side in my collegue’s John Arena’s ward, has exposed widespread, thinly bailed prejudice,” said Alderman Deborah Mell (33rd Ward), according to CBS. “And a general ‘not in my backyard’ perspective masquerading as concerns about density and building height."

Despite the fever pitch that engulfs that development, Ald. Arena struck a note of optimism, particularly around parallel efforts to advance the so-called “Keeping the Promise” ordinance, which has long stalled in the City Council's Housing Committee. He said it's merely a logical extension of the Affordable Requirement Ordinance, which requires that 10 percent of an up-zoning development's units be affordable. "My point of view is that saying the Chicago Housing Authority is part of that mandate is not an alien concept—we already do it," Arena told Chicagoist.

"I don’t see that as a controversial approach, and neither does the general population," he added.

The Chicago Housing Initiative was not immediately available to provide a list of all reps who participated in the pledge. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, Harry Osterman and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa were among those at Wednesday's conference. Also joining the call was gubernatorial candidate Ameya Pawar (47th Ward). He spoke in support of Arena's plight.

"[I]f Ald. Arena brings up this project and his office gets hijacked for six months for 80 affordable units, how do you bring that forward in other communities?" he asked on Tuesday, according to the Tribune.