City, Woodlawn advocates reach Obama Center-area housing deal

Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization Executive Director Jawanza Malone, a CBA organizer, told The Daily Line the ordinance was “one of the most significant and aggressive affordable housing policies won in recent memory.”

According to an AECOM report, the median home sales price in the neighborhood has almost doubled from around $92,000 in 2010 to about $175,000 in 2019.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she intends to introduce the compromise ordinance at tomorrow’s City Council meeting with support from Taylor and Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th, “and look forward to passage likely in September.” 

“It’s been a long work in progress,” Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said of compromise. It included 21 meetings in Woodlawn and 250 Housing Commission working hours on the plan, which includes protections for affordable rentals and initiatives to boost home ownership in the area. 

Among the compromises: any residential developments built on roughly 50 city-owned lots in the neighborhood will have a 30 percent affordable requirement, available to people earning 30 to 50 percent of the area median income. On the lower end, that would be $25,000 in earnings a year for a family of four. 

The city will also provide up to $20,000 in grants for home safety, exterior repair and energy efficiency improvements to certain homeowners who have lived there for at least 5 years.

“It’s a step in the right direction," Taylor said, but "it does not do enough. It’ll only create 45 units of affordable housing and it will only help 60 homeowners. We’re talking about 10,000 people in Woodlawn. We just need more." Nevertheless, she said she was on board. "We haven’t gotten gentrification right anywhere in the country. This is an opportunity for us to do just that.” 

Said Novara: “No one who lives in Woodlawn now should have to leave Woodlawn. In the past we’ve too often been in the position of being reactive when changes were already underway." This was, she said, an opportunity to be proactive as the Obama Presidential Center comes online and could provide a roadmap in other gentrifying neighborhoods.


via Crain’s Chicago Business

July 21, 2020 at 05:46PM

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