Affordable housing requirements could double or triple under proposed new rules

The proposal would raise the required number of affordable units in new developments in the city to 20% or 30%

From left: Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th) and Alderman Chris Taliaferro (29th) (Credit: Facebook and iStock)
From left: Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th) and Alderman Chris Taliaferro (29th) (Credit: Facebook and iStock)

A group of Chicago aldermen are pushing a plan to strengthen the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, in some cases making developers charge below-market rents on nearly a third of units in any new residential development that needs zoning approval.

The proposal, sponsored by Alderman Chris Taliaferro (29th) and several freshman Democratic Socialist aldermen, would triple the required amount of affordable units from 10 to 30 percent in “high-rent zones” and raise it to 20 percent elsewhere, according to Crain’s. It would also eliminate the option for developers to opt out the mandate by paying fees into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The proposal would cover developers who seek a zoning change for buildings with as few as three units. The existing policy applies only to new developments with 10 or more units.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not comment on the plan, but her spokesperson said the mayor is “evaluating” the best ways to boost affordable housing, according to Crain’s. She said Lightfoot will release a plan later this year detailing how to distribute Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which she called “the most important resource for creating affordable housing in Chicago.”

Developers and brokers have decried the city’s affordable housing mandates, especially the more stringent “pilot zones” drawn around gentrifying areas in 2017, saying they stifle new construction by asking builders to shoulder too high a cost.

Real estate groups have instead prodded the city to expand tax credits to incentivize affordable development. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin