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New affordable housing task force will develop policies to address shortage

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The members will examine legislation aimed at developers

A one-story brick home with light blue trim in a Chicago neighborhood.
Ukrainian Village neighborhood in Chicago.
Photo by Carmen Troesser

Within the Department of Housing, a new affordable housing task force will guide the Lightfoot administration on policies related to affordable housing for low-income residents.

The task force is responsible for examining policies aimed at developers, such as the Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO). It will recommend revisions to the legislation as well as other changes to address the citywide shortage of affordable housing, the mayor’s office said.

Chicago’s ARO rules require residential developments receiving assistance from the city—be it a financial incentives, a zoning change, or a deal involving city-owned land—to ensure that part of the project has housing units for low-income residents. Typically, that range falls between 10 to 20 percent. In certain cases, developers can opt to pay a fee into the city’s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund (AHOF) instead of including the units on-site at the residential project. The fund helps the city maintain existing affordable housing.

Currently, the task force is led by Stacie Young of Community Investments Corporation, Juan Sebastian Arias of the Metropolitan Planning Council, Tony Smith of PNC Bank, 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, and 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez.

The city is seeking up to 20 volunteers to join the task force—it’s open to all Chicago residents, civic organizations, community advocates, unions, and housing developers. Those interested can apply on the DOH website before the deadline at 5 p.m. Monday, October 28.

“The Lightfoot administration is committed to creating more affordable housing options citywide, and that begins with evaluating existing tools and resources, like the ARO which is instrumental in providing housing for those most in need,” said DOH Commissioner Marisa Novara. “Our goal is to establish a transparent, equitable revision process and that requires engaging with those who are knowledgeable and most affected by issues of affordable housing. This task force is open to all Chicagoans and will be instrumental in making sure that all voices and ideas are represented and heard.”

The task force is expected to meet once a month for 4 to 6 months beginning in November. In addition, DOH officials will also host neighborhood focus groups to gather feedback on a new affordable housing legislation framework plan. Any changes to the Affordable Requirement Ordinance will go through a public comment period and will need the support of the Chicago City Council to take effect.