Earlier this month, Chicago City Council approved a new five-year housing plan that will, according to the Mayor’s Office press release, “provide an important roadmap for housing-related public investments in local neighborhoods through 2018. The plan identifies issues, presents solutions, and establishes priorities for the City’s housing initiatives over the next five years, including the commitment to expand affordability and reduce the burdensome cost of housing on many owners and renters.”
While the plan has been approved by the City Council, several of the practical approaches have yet to be fully determined. One such segment of the plan articulates the desire to expand the availability of affordable housing in the city’s strongest markets while increasing demand and boosting housing value in weak and transitional markets. Deeper into the plan, the City intends to support affordable housing in all types of markets by convening a committee to “consider updates to the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) that respond to opportunities in the current development market and create additional affordable units and / or increased fees paid to the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund. Per the existing ordinance, DPD will adjust the ARO in-lieu fee based on the Consumer Price Index in 2014, and will continue to adjust the fee annually.”
Though all of the details are far from settled–and FitzGerald has a rich tradition of supporting affordable housing throughout Chicago–FitzGerald maintains some reservations toward furthering the gap between the financial feasibility of development and a desire to provide affordable housing in all areas of the City.
Our firm has worked closely with agencies and organizations both public and private to provide workforce, senior, and affordable housing, and we believe that those agencies that specialize in developing and maintaining affordable housing should be given the resources to do so and those agencies, along with market forces, should be permitted to determine the markets most suited for the investment.
We admire the mission of the City’s latest plan, and hope the City Council’s committee rigorously considers how to best stimulate the growth our communities need. We look forward to continuing to plan, design, and build in Chicago’s diverse and thriving neighborhoods.