Lightfoot proposes affordable housing ordinance overhaul

Plan would double required affordable units in new construction; opponents say it will discourage development

Chicago /
Mar.March 24, 2021 05:30 PM
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Getty)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Getty)

Months after a citywide task force essentially labeled Chicago’s affordable housing program a failure, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is proposing major changes.

The mayor’s revisions to the existing Affordable Requirements Ordinance will include doubling to 20 percent the number of affordable apartments or condo units per complex in certain neighborhoods, according to Crain’s.

The proposed update, announced Wednesday, would also make developers pay more to opt out of the requirements, with that money going to Chicago’s housing fund, the report noted.

“Thanks to this ordinance, we will be able to better address these negative impacts and move our city that much closer to fully ensuring that all of our residents, regardless of their income, will have the ability and opportunity to live wherever they choose in Chicago,” Lightfoot said.

Meanwhile, developers say the revisions will discourage new construction by making it more difficult for projects to pencil out.

Lightfoot’s changes follow a report in September by a task force that determined the ordinance requiring developers to build more housing for low- and moderate-income households has created just 1,000 homes in 13 years. Those results also showed that the city’s affordable housing shortfall has ballooned to nearly 120,000 homes.

The announcement came a week after the city Department of Housing’s “racial equity impact assessment” found the bulk of affordable homes developed in Chicago using federal low-income housing tax credits in recent years have further segregated Black residents in the South and West sides.

[Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman 


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