"Our Homes, Chicago" and Suburban Cook County

On June 28, the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI) launched a campaign called Our Home, Chicago. Highlighting support from several Chicago aldermen, the campaign included a press release, press conference, social media blitz, and several articles in the Chicago Tribune. Even more impressive, CHI worked with aldermen to create and propose two ordinances, including:
  • The Homes for All Ordinance, which focuses on protecting public housing in Chicago
  • The Development for All Ordinance, which focuses on strengthening the City of Chicago's inclusionary zoning ordinance, called the Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO).
While some of the provisions of these ordinances are very specific to Chicago and wouldn't pertain to the suburbs, some are bold measures that, if implemented in Chicago, could pave the way for ambitious changes in the suburbs and even the broader region. The following is a listing of some of the more pertinent recommendations. We will be reviewing these with the Joining Forces membership and considering whether a similar campaign is in order here in the suburbs.

CHI Recommendation
Increase Transparency and Reporting: CHA will report to the Committee on Housing and Real Estate on its available resources, vacant and offline housing ward-by-ward, its voucher utilization rate, its progress building replacement public housing across all neighborhoods, and the number of section 3 jobs created to help low-income families progress economically.
Advance City De-segregation Goals, end Exclusionary Development Rooted in Racism: Mandates 20% of future public housing units be sited in low-poverty areas of the city. Provides expedited review and evidence-based approval for Planned Unit Development proposals with affordable housing in wards with less than 10% affordable housing.
Prevent “Opt-Outs”: Remove the option for developers to pay “in lieu of” fees instead of providing the affordable units on site in their buildings. If developers are allowed to opt-out, especially in higher-market areas, they inevitably will because it is cheaper. With our amendments, the ARO will do what was intended- create genuine inclusionary development.
Permanent Affordability: Units produced under the ARO will be affordable in perpetuity.
Generate More Affordable Units: Require developers of market-rate housing seeking upzoning approval from the City for 10+ units to include 30% affordable housing in their developments. 
  • Downtown zones: Higher requirement of 40% in downtown zones. 
  • Off-site housing: Allowed within ½ mile. Require 10% addt’l affordable, all family-size. 
  • Small buildings, 3-9 units, non-owner occupied: In conditions where Investor-Purchaser seeks upzoning approval from the City, require 1 affordable unit at a sliding scale. 
Create Real Affordability: Provide rents that are truly affordable to minimum wage workers, seniors, people with disabilities, families of color. For upzoning requests seeking approval for 10+ units:
  • ¼ of the affordable units will have rents between 15-20% AMI ($251-$354 for 3 bdrm) 
    • Families up to 30% AMI ($24,600 for 4 ppl) can move into these affordable units. 
  • ¼ of the affordable units will rent at 30% AMI ($610 for a 3-bdrm)
    • Families up to 50% AMI ($40,000 for 4 ppl) can move into these affordable units. 
  • Half the affordable units will have rents at 50% AMI ($970 for a 3- bdrm)
    • Families up to 80% AMI ($63,200 for 4 ppl) can move in 
Create Family-Sized Apartments: The ARO only generated 22 three-bedroom apartments from 2007 & 2017. Until we start creating family affordable housing, the ARO is worth very little. 
  • Mandate creation of 4-bedroom, 3-bedroom, & 2-bedroom apts when upzoning is given. 
    • 30% of the affordable units must be 3-and 4-bedrooms and 30% of the affordable units must be 2-bedrooms.