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CHICAGO - Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Housing (DOH) Commissioner Marisa Novara today announced the 20 community advocates, developers and other stakeholders who will make up the new Inclusionary Housing Task Force charged with recommending improvements to the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) and broader inclusionary housing policies. The ARO is one of the city’s key tools in the creation and equitable distribution of affordable housing across the city of Chicago. The Task Force will consider suggestions for improving the ARO’s efficacy towards that goal, as well as incorporating learnings from the Near North-Near West, Milwaukee Corridor, and Pilsen-Little Village ARO pilot areas.
The diverse group includes experts on public health, homelessness, affordable housing finance, disability rights, labor and affordable and market rate development. The Task Force will convene in December and meet once a month for up to six months as the City seeks to develop new policies guiding how and where affordable housing is created to address a citywide shortage and Chicago’s racial and economic segregation – two of Mayor Lightfoot’s top priorities.
“This group of industry stakeholders will be instrumental in ensuring that this vital tool is updated to better address the City’s affordable housing shortage,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As we work toward a more equitable city, the Inclusionary Housing Task Force will serve as our conscience as we strive as a united city that affordable housing options are located throughout Chicago’s 77 communities.”
The newly created Task Force is one of a series of initiatives by the Lightfoot administration designed to maximize transparency, accountability and equity in the process of updating the ARO and broader housing policies. Task Force membership was made available to all Chicago residents, civic organizations, community advocates, unions and housing developers. Nearly 200 people applied during the two-week application period in October.
"This open process was designed to gather a diverse group of stakeholders who will help shape our policies and influence how and where affordable housing is created,” said Commissioner Novara. “This important step demonstrates our commitment to a more equitable, transparent and accountable government and our commitment to providing safe, affordable housing for all.”
The Inclusionary Housing Task Force will include three co-chairs: Juan Sebastian Arias of the Metropolitan Planning Council; Tony Smith of PNC Bank; and Stacie Young of Preservation Compact and three aldermanic co-chairs, Walter Burnett (27), Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25) and Harry Osterman (48).
"The Inclusionary Housing Task Force has members that represent the diversity of our city and viewpoints on ways to create needed affordable housing in every community," said Alderman Osterman. “I look forward to working closely with this dedicated group of Chicagoans on this important issue."
DOH staff and co-chairs selected Task Force members after a rigorous review of the applications submitted, prioritizing members’ diversity and depth of experience with housing and public planning issues in Chicago. Task Force leadership also prioritized members’ ability to commit time to the work.
The 20 members will meet for the first time in mid-December and thereafter once a month for four to six months with the goal of producing a revised ordinance by mid-2020. In addition, breakout working groups will meet to discuss technical questions and report back to the group. The Task Force will be charged with answering questions such as what percentages and levels of affordability are appropriate to require; whether these requirements and associated in-lieu fees, if applicable, should apply evenly across the city; how to treat off-site units; and more. In addition to the Task Force, DOH will start convening community-based Focus Groups to receive further feedback on inclusionary housing policy in January.
The Affordable Requirements Ordinance mandates residential development projects that receive financial assistance from the City, require a zoning change, or involve city-owned land reserve a percentage of housing units for low-income residents. The ARO has helped thousands of Chicagoans find an affordable place to live. Since 2003, as a result of the ARO, more than 1,000 units of affordable housing have been completed or are under construction. The ordinance has generated more than $120 million for the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund, which helps preserve or create thousands of additional units. The ARO delivers affordable housing in some of the city’s most expensive areas, helping to reverse decades-old patterns of segregation.
In early November, the Department of Housing unveiled a new, interactive, user-friendly tool – the ARO Dashboard – to make affordable housing data more transparent and accessible to the public. The dashboard includes data never released to the public, such as ARO project statuses, and organizes the information geographically and visually to aid in assessments of the ordinance and will serve as an important tool for the Task Force as it examines the effectiveness of the ARO.
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