WBEZ | affordable housing http://www.wbez.org/tags/affordable-housing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Federal government wants to ban smoking in public housing http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-12/federal-government-wants-ban-smoking-public-housing-113761 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4170136164_b650ccca9a_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_96032"><img alt="(Kristaps Bergfelds/Flickr)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1112_smoking-ban-public-housing-flickr-624x416.jpg" title="The proposed ban on smoking in public housing would affect nearly 1 million households. (Kristaps Bergfelds/Flickr)" /><p>The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it wants to ban smoking in public housing across the country, including in people&rsquo;s apartments. If adopted, the new rule would affect nearly a million households.</p></div><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/12/public-housing-smoking-ban" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&lsquo;s</em></a> Jeremy Hobson talks with&nbsp;Lourdes Castro Ramirez, principal deputy assistant secretary for the&nbsp;<a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/programdescription/pih" target="_blank">Office of Public and Indian Housing</a>&nbsp;at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, about why HUD is proposing the ban, and how it would be enforced.</p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-12/federal-government-wants-ban-smoking-public-housing-113761 Affordable housing appeals board: 'We just sit and stare at each other' http://www.wbez.org/news/affordable-housing-appeals-board-we-just-sit-and-stare-each-other-113691 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/affordablehousinglaw_151109_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than six years after it was created, a state board designed to prod municipalities into building affordable housing has yet to hear one case.</p><p>The Illinois Housing Appeals Board was established in 2009 as part of the Illinois Housing Planning and Appeal Act (2003). That law required cities with less than 10 percent affordable housing to turn in affordable housing plans to the state.</p><p>Yet many towns flout that requirement without penalty. Under the law, if a municipality rejects an affordable housing proposal, the developer could plead to the Housing Appeals Board.</p><p>&ldquo;By statute we meet at least four times a year. But for example we had a meeting set for a couple of weeks from now and I canceled it because bringing people from all over, we just sit and stare at each other,&rdquo; said Warren Wolfson, a retired judge turned law professor, who&rsquo;s the board chair.&nbsp; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s nice to see them but we don&rsquo;t get anything done so it&rsquo;s a waste of their time and expense money,&rdquo;</p><p>The unpaid bipartisan board formed in 2008 but was never fully appointed by the governor until 2012. Members include a developer, zoning expert and affordable housing advocate.</p><p>Wolfson said the main reason there&rsquo;ve been no cases is because suburbs and towns often invoke &ldquo;home rule&rdquo; &mdash; the right to self-govern without state intervention.</p><p>Even if the appeals board did get a case and ruled in a developer&rsquo;s favor, Wolfson doubts the judgment would stick.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;m not sure we have the power to enforce our subpoenas or our decisions should we ever reach that stage, which doesn&rsquo;t look like we&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; Wolfson said. He said the law would have to be changed, allowing the Illinois attorney general to enforce a decision.</p><p>Many cities that resist building housing for working and low-income families are affluent suburbs just outside Chicago. Last month a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-mandate-affluent-suburbs-fail-build-affordable-housing-113274" target="_blank">WBEZ analysis of Low Income Housing Tax Credits</a> found that affordable housing tends to be clustered in areas with higher rates of poverty and racial segregation.</p><p>Between towns invoking home rule and an appeals board with no teeth, many question whether the law is working.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re a cynic, you would say they&rsquo;re really not serious about it. It&rsquo;s a good policy and in the final analysis, the failure to have enforcement procedures and to resolve the home rule issue indicates it&rsquo;s more cosmetic than real,&rdquo; Wolfson said.</p><p>Jeff Leslie, director of the Housing Initiative Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, has another theory as to why developers aren&rsquo;t taking their cases to the appeals board.</p><p>&ldquo;I would start with the extreme reluctance of developers to sue the municipality over these kind of decisions to begin with. Most developers are repeat players and they&rsquo;re looking to do repeat transactions in these jurisdictions. And to bite the hand that feeds you by suing them over a rejection is a big step for a developer to take,&rdquo; Leslie said.</p><p>But that wasn&rsquo;t developer Jessica Berzac&rsquo;s reason.</p><p>A couple of years ago her company wanted to build a 50-unit project in suburban Wheeling for people with various disabilities. Many nearby residents objected. Berzac sued the village under the federal Fair Housing Act, bypassing the state appeals board altogether.</p><p>&ldquo;The violation we felt there was a clear fair housing violation not necessarily a zoning-related violation because they weren&rsquo;t necessarily saying multi-family couldn&rsquo;t exist. Multi-family with services couldn&rsquo;t exist,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>A settlement was reached in federal court, and now the project is underway.</p><p>Leslie said Illinois can do more to strengthen the appeals board, which he believes was created with vague language. He points to other states like Connecticut and Massachusetts where the burden is more on municipalities.</p><p>&ldquo;What it would mean is the local jurisdiction would have to make its case on the record for why this particular application was rejected,&rdquo;&nbsp; Leslie said. &ldquo;If they don&rsquo;t pass the smell test, it&rsquo;ll be easier for developers to present the case and easier for the board to conclude that there really wasn&rsquo;t anything behind this decision other than animus toward affordable housing.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter.</a></em></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 18:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/affordable-housing-appeals-board-we-just-sit-and-stare-each-other-113691 The vast inequality of rental inflation http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-11-06/vast-inequality-rental-inflation-113670 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/GettyImages-177157869.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div id="file-294582"><img alt="" id="1" src="http://www.marketplace.org/sites/default/files/styles/primary-image-766x447/public/GettyImages-177157869.jpg?itok=Vi1NOweg" style="height: 362px; width: 620px;" title="An apartment building stands as seen from the Manhattan Bridge in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><div>Rent increases are something the average renter needs like a hole in the head. But according to&nbsp;<a href="http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2015/11/differences-in-rent-inflation-by-cost-of-housing.html#.Vju36tKrS00">analysis</a>&nbsp;released by the New York Federal reserve, it looks like rent increases have been highest for those least able to pay. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><div><div id="story-content"><p>For the highest rents in the U.S., rents didn&rsquo;t change much between 2011 and 2013.</p><p>For units with the lowest rents in the U.S. &ndash; places where the poorest Americans live &ndash; average rent inflation was 15.9 percent per year.&nbsp;</p><p>This divide has existed in some way for decades, the NY Fed&rsquo;s data show.</p><p>As with all data, there are many ways to slice it. The most frequently reported rent increase at the top was 1.24 percent, the most frequently reported rent increase at the bottom was three times that, 3.56 percent.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not surprising,&rdquo; said Paul Habibi, lecturer of real estate UCLA. Low rent units don&rsquo;t make much money, he said, &ldquo;so in less affluent communities the rents don&rsquo;t support the cost of new construction.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Developers build where they can turn a profit. That increases supply, and keeps rents from rising as much. In communities where rents are low, it&#39;s the opposite.&nbsp;</p><p>That parallels the view of economists at the NY Fed, who point out that the source of supply for higher rent units is new construction, whereas the supply of lower-rent units tends to be older, depreciated units.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;For the highest-income quintile,&rdquo; they write, &ldquo;new construction (10.8 million units) is about 2&frac12; times the net increase in housing units (4.3 million units) [between 1989 and 2013]. As one moves down the income distribution, new construction represents a declining share of the net increase in housing units.&rdquo;</p><p>Susan Wachter, professor of real estate at the Wharton School, argues there are additional factors.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve seen since 2004 is no increase in homeowners,&rdquo; she said, whereas the number of renters has increased by the millions. The lower the income level, the harder it&rsquo;s become to own a home, the more people opt for renting. &nbsp;&ldquo;And that is driving the demand side of this equation,&rdquo; said Wachter. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Over the time period we&rsquo;re looking at, land prices have gone up and so the land component will be a bigger share of what you pay in rent,&rdquo;&nbsp;said&nbsp;Chris Mayer, professor of real estate at Columbia. For low rent units, land prices already figure prominently in the cost of rent, impacting renters there more. &ldquo;One of the things we&rsquo;ve seen is in places like New York and Boston, low income people have in particular seen their share of income in rent grow a lot,&rdquo; said Mayer, &ldquo;so that&rsquo;s consistent with the idea that in some of these coastal markets where we&rsquo;ve seen sharp increases in real estate and in land prices, that also disproportionately burdens low income renters.&rdquo;</p><p>The NY Fed&rsquo;s numbers, he said, emphasize something many people already know: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s this group of people in this country who are facing really significant challenges, and this study adds to the evidence. &ldquo;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/wealth-poverty/vast-inequality-rental-inflation" target="_blank"><em> via Marketplace</em></a></p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 10:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-11-06/vast-inequality-rental-inflation-113670 Sanctuary, not just shelter: A new type of housing for the homeless http://www.wbez.org/news/sanctuary-not-just-shelter-new-type-housing-homeless-113639 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rendering of conway.jpeg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446683709"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A rendering of the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence in Washington, D.C." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/07/johnandjillkerconwayresidence.jpg_custom-0c8712d1480361058117072aab9411e87fbb4d83-s800-c85.jpeg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="A rendering of the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy of Community Solutions)" /></div><div><div><p>Ending homelessness isn&#39;t just about finding a home. Sometimes, it&#39;s about finding a&nbsp;<em>nice&nbsp;</em>home &mdash; a place that&#39;s bright, modern and healthy to live in. That&#39;s the idea fueling the development of a number of buildings around the country, as communities try to move chronically homeless people off the streets.</p></div></div></div><p>In downtown Washington, D.C., one of those buildings is currently going up right beside NPR&#39;s headquarters. Still under construction, the structure looks a little like four huge blocks, stacked atop each other and slightly askew. At 14 stories high, it will have a striking view of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument when it&#39;s finished.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s going to be definitively an inspiring place for the folks that are in it and for this neighborhood as well,&quot; says Nadine Maleh, executive director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://instituteforpublicarchitecture.org/">Institute for Public Architecture</a>. Until recently, she was the director of inspiring places at the nonprofit<a href="https://cmtysolutions.org/">Community Solutions</a>, one of the groups behind the project.</p><p>&quot;The front of the building will be predominately glass,&quot; Maleh adds, explaining that it&#39;s designed to let in as much natural light as possible.</p><p>The building will provide permanent housing for 60 homeless veterans and 64 other low-income adults, beginning early next year. Each resident will pay about a third of their income in rent for an efficiency apartment. The building will also have a big, open lobby with a concierge desk, much like many of the other new apartment buildings in the area.</p><div id="res446683840"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A view of construction underway, showing what will eventually be open community space at the John and Jil Ker Conway Residence." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/07/luxury-affordable-housing-on-site-jtsuboike-0023edit_custom-2c2a80f516df4950d1fdcb26b990b1dc93d94314-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="A view of construction underway, showing what will eventually be open community space at the John and Jil Ker Conway Residence. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;And then we have a lot of really wonderful building amenities which serve to promote community within the building. So there&#39;s a computer room. There&#39;s a gym,&quot; Maleh says.</p></div></div></div><p>Out back there will be a patio, and inside, a room for residents to keep their bikes. Social services, like job counseling and health care referrals, will be offered through an office in-house. There are also plans to build a restaurant or cafe on the ground floor, to help attract others in the community who might be wary about having such a facility in the neighborhood.</p><p>Maleh says that&#39;s the whole idea behind this place: that people who have the kinds of mental health and other issues that made them homeless in the first place will do better &mdash; even thrive &mdash; when they live somewhere they feel calm, comfortable and part of a community.</p><p><strong>A &#39;Sanctuary&#39; In The City Of Angels</strong></p><p>For a good example of what this kind of affordable housing can do, just talk to Emily Martiniuk in northern Los Angeles.</p><p>Martiniuk, 63, lives in the Palo Verde Apartments, a bright, stylish facility with a lot of the same amenities that will be offered at the D.C. building: community rooms, a computer lab, patios and a beautiful tree-lined courtyard. She lives in one of the facility&#39;s 60 units, on the second floor.</p><div id="res446684681"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A view of a courtyard at the Palo Verde Apartments in Los Angeles." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/07/2012-palo-verde-edit_custom-ba2937ec04c26b3bd3af711d1097d9d9ac5a595e-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 620px;" title="A view of a courtyard at the Palo Verde Apartments in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of LA Family Housing)" /></div><div><blockquote><p><em>&quot;This is the dream apartment,&quot; she says. &quot;I don&#39;t call it my room. Other people call it their room. This is my apartment.&quot; -&nbsp;Emily Martiniuk, a tenant at Palo Verde Apartments</em></p></blockquote></div></div><p>She&#39;s lived in the building for three years, decorating and redecorating the space with posters, plants and little trinkets.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s hunt and pick, because I am low-income,&quot; she says with a laugh.</p><div id="res446602511"><aside><div><p>This is the dream apartment. I don&#39;t call it my room. Other people call it their room. This is my apartment.</p></div><p>Emily Martiniuk, a tenant at Palo Verde Apartments</p></aside></div><p>For most of her life, Martiniuk eked out a living driving buses, working as a telemarketer and even owning a small notary business. Then things started to slide: One of her adult sons died, then the economy crumpled &mdash; and with it, her business.</p><p>&quot;It was like a slow divorce,&quot; she says.</p><p>Without work, she was no longer able to make ends meet, eventually ending up in a homeless shelter. Her mental health deteriorated, and she was institutionalized for six weeks.</p><p>Then, she got the opportunity to move to the Palo Verde Apartments &mdash; which is when everything changed, she says.</p><p>&quot;I have a mental health issue. The condition of my home is the condition of my mind.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s why it&#39;s so important for her mental health and well-being to have this neat apartment as a &quot;sanctuary,&quot; as she calls it.</p><p><strong>Obstacles On A Long Journey</strong></p><p>There are questions about the cost of these projects, though. The Palo Verde Apartments cost about $16 million, says Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, president and CEO of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lafh.org/">LA Family Housing</a>, the nonprofit that owns and operates the facility. And she&#39;s quick to add that the $16 million price tag is more expensive than the typical permanent supportive housing facility &mdash; but that&#39;s intentional.</p><p>&quot;Another developer most likely would have built this [facility] with much higher density,&quot; Klasky-Gamer says. &quot;But we elected to have this kind of courtyard. We elected to have little patios and little convening spaces.&quot;</p><div id="res446602222"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div id="res446602203"><div><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/most-housing-voucher-waiting-lists-illinois-closed-113626" target="_blank"><strong>RELATED: The difficulties of finding affordable housing</strong></a></div></div><p>They elected to do that, she says, because it lets them better serve the people they do house here. It&#39;s quality over quantity.</p><p>The same idea drives the Washington, D.C., project, which will cost about $33 million to develop. But Klasky-Gamer, Maleh and others insist that it&#39;s cheaper to build facilities such as these than it is to deal with the many problems people have living on the street, like repeatedly going to the emergency room. And that&#39;s why cities and nonprofits have been putting up similar buildings in places such as New York, New Orleans and San Diego.</p><p>Still, such facilities are addressing only a fraction of the problem. On any given night, there are about 600,000 homeless people living in the U.S. About 44,000 of them live in LA County alone.</p><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/04/446584456/in-quest-to-end-homelessness-some-developers-are-going-high-end?ft=nprml&amp;f=446584456"> via NPR</a></em></p></p> Wed, 04 Nov 2015 14:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sanctuary-not-just-shelter-new-type-housing-homeless-113639 Housing advocates warn property tax hike could speed gentrification http://www.wbez.org/news/housing-advocates-warn-property-tax-hike-could-speed-gentrification-113542 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AffordableRent.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated October 30, 2015 to include new information from the city&#39;s budget office and the Community Investment Corporation.</em></p><p dir="ltr">Residents, landlords and community organizers are warning that Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s property tax hike will accelerate gentrification on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest side.</p><p dir="ltr">The City Council overwhelmingly approved the mayor&rsquo;s budget on Wednesday, including an incremental $543 million property tax increase slated for police and fire pensions. An additional $45 million annual property tax hike was approved for school construction and modernization projections.</p><p dir="ltr">The coalition group Communities United based its analysis on Census data and a survey of seven owners of two-flat buildings in Northwest Side neighborhoods. It concludes that the higher assessments will drive low-income renters out of Albany Park, Belmont Cragin and Lincoln Square, because building owners will most likely pass the additional cost on to their tenants.</p><div>&ldquo;Renters will be pushed out of their homes, and Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest side will continue to become a place that is only accessible to those who have very deep pockets,&rdquo; said Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But during the vote on Wednesday fellow Northwest side alderman Pat O&rsquo;Connor (40), the mayor&rsquo;s floor leader, argued that the property tax was necessary to avoid cutting critical services. &ldquo;Clearly our city will decay and will denigrate and our services will be severely hampered if we do not take the appropriate steps,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Connor said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the <a href="http://communitiesunited.org/sites/apncorganizing.org/files/The%20City%20That%20Works%E2%80%A6For%20Who%3F%20Final%2010.28.15.pdf">study</a>, the pinch will be felt most acutely by tenants of small, multi-unit &nbsp;buildings, which comprise roughly one-third of the city&rsquo;s rental housing stock.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Rents in these two- to four-flats could go up as much as $50 to $100 a month,&rdquo; said Diane Limas, board chair of Communities United.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, the city&rsquo;s budget office disputes the numbers and directed WBEZ to a brief by the <a href="http://www.preservationcompact.org/wp-content/uploads/Property-Tax-Increase-Impact-on-Affordable-Rental-Housing-2015.pdf">Community Investment Corporation</a>, which found that property owners would likely experience a tax increase of $10-$20 per unit in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. In wealthier neighborhoods, the analysis found that landlords would be more likely to pass on the increase to their tenants, but that it would remain &ldquo;modest,&rdquo; at $15 or less per unit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a written statement, city officials noted that a rental property would have to be worth roughly $520,000 if it were to see a property tax hike of $1,200 a year. &ldquo;The communities united (sic) case study suggests a property that is&hellip; nearly two and a half (sic) times more valuable than the median 2-6 apartment flat in the city,&rdquo; it said. &ldquo;Approximately half of the wards on the North/Northwest side have an average assessed value for 2-6 flat that is at or near the citywide average.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Stacie Young, Director of the Preservation Compact, which released the CIC report, said the rent increase estimate from Communities United&rsquo;s study sounded too high. &ldquo;But it depends on whether they&rsquo;re looking at an increase in the assessed valuation of the areas,&rdquo; she added, noting that property values in some parts of the Northwest Side have been increasing over the years.</div></div><div><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 13:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/housing-advocates-warn-property-tax-hike-could-speed-gentrification-113542 Chicago developers shell out millions rather than build affordable housing http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-developers-shell-out-millions-rather-build-affordable-housing-113371 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/aro.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The roar of construction blares at the intersection of Chestnut and Orleans, not far from the former Cabrini-Green public housing development. A <a href="http://nextapts.com/">sleek glass apartment</a> building with 310 units is set for an area now home to tech businesses and diverse retail.</p><p dir="ltr">The luxury high-rise will be equipped with a yoga studio, private balconies, cabanas by the pool and a coffee bar. But one thing it won&rsquo;t have is affordable housing.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead, the developer wrote a hefty $3.1 million check to the city of Chicago&rsquo;s affordable housing opportunity fund.</p><p dir="ltr">This is a common arrangement, and not just on the Near North Side.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-developers-shell-out-millions-rather-build-affordable-housing-113371#map">Map of developments that opted to pay instead of build affordable housing</a></strong></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">When residential developers want to build on city-owned land or receive financial help, Chicago asks for something in return. The city requires them to provide 10 percent of units at affordable prices or have them to pay into a fund. For homeowners, the term affordable means a family of four earning $76,000 a year. For rentals, a family of four earning $45,000.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ obtained a list of payments to the city&rsquo;s Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund. We found that from 2005-2015, developers have shelled out $77 million dollars to not include affordable housing in their buildings.&nbsp;The fees collected by the city were used, in the form of rent subsidies, to help underwrite affordable apartment units elsewhere.</p><p dir="ltr">The vast majority of properties that opted out are in trendy, expensive neighborhoods that are mostly white and have a dearth of affordable housing: River North, downtown, Wrigleyville.</p><p dir="ltr">That gave 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett pause.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It made me think that, man, I&rsquo;ve been allowing these guys to opt out into support other affordable developments on the West Side and other areas in the ward but not here,&rdquo; Burnett said.</p><p dir="ltr">By &ldquo;here&rdquo; he means the pricey West Loop, a former seedy area that now hosts the restaurant glitterati and luxury condos. Burnett&rsquo;s ward is a peculiar mix. It ranges from the gentrifying area that used to be Cabrini-Green, to parts of the West Side that are vacant and low income.</p><p dir="ltr">Burnett has negotiated with developers to pitch in money for other affordable housing in his ward. But those units end up getting built in the high poverty areas.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I allowed this to happen. I allowed for one type of group of people with a certain amount of money in the neighborhood, and it needs to be mixed. So I said from here on out people are going to have to do some affordable over here. I can&rsquo;t let them opt out anymore,&rdquo; Burnett said.</p><p>He pushed the city to create <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/general/housing/ARO_Enhancement_Summary.pdf">changes in its affordable housing ordinance</a> that took effect this week. A developer who wants to build now at the very minimum has to provide one fourth of the 10 percent requirement for affordable units at the actual site. Or he could build those units off site within two miles -- or pay even more if it&rsquo;s outside of that radius.</p><p dir="ltr">In all of these scenarios, the developers would still pay a fee if they didn&rsquo;t meet the 10 percent goal. The new ordinance increases some of those fees from $100,000 to $225,000 thousand dollars per each unit not built.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re pushing in the right direction,&rdquo; Burnett said.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ called <a href="http://www.fifieldco.com/index.php">many</a> <a href="http://webstersquare.com/deveolper/">many</a> <a href="http://www.magellandevelopment.com/">local</a> <a href="http://centrumpartners.net/">developers</a> to find out why they write six- and seven-figure checks instead of including some affordable housing units. Either they didn&rsquo;t call back or refused to talk on the record.</p><p dir="ltr">But one developer group has turned the city&rsquo;s rule into a legal matter. In August, the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[The city] still thinks that they have to punish people to get what they want instead of offering an incentive that gets results,&rdquo; said Paul Colgan, of the association.</p><p dir="ltr">Colgan said developers would lose money on rentals and for-sale units if they included 10 percent affordable housing. He says a better way to get developers to comply would be to provide tax abatements or help them reduce building costs.</p><p>There is one change in the affordable requirements ordinance that Cogan said pleases developers. The chance to build off-site instead of at the development they are getting city assistance from.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But the new ordinance, even though it has new incentives built into it, it&rsquo;s still has the same fundamental problem as the original ordinance had and that was it&rsquo;s taking under the law,&rdquo; Colgan said.</p><p dir="ltr">Taking property, Colgan argues, is unconstitutional. And his group is continuing the lawsuit.</p><p dir="ltr">Pouring millions of dollars into the city&rsquo;s coffers rather than deliver affordable housing units helps perpetuate racial and economic segregation in the city</p><p>A separate <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/">WBEZ analysis</a> found that was also true for apartment complexes funded by federal low income housing tax credits. LIHTC developments are clustered on the South and West Sides &mdash; where it&rsquo;s cheaper, and there&rsquo;s less resistance.</p><p>But Marisa Novara of the Metropolitan Planning Council said this doesn&rsquo;t give families access to better neighborhoods &mdash; otherwise known as &lsquo;opportunity areas.&rsquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What if some portion of those buyout fees were set aside specifically for low income housing tax credit developments in low-poverty areas to bridge the financing gap that only grows larger when the property is higher valued,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p dir="ltr">She said there&rsquo;s precedent for this. In Boston, a minimum of half of the developers&rsquo; opt-out fees must be spent in areas with less affordable housing than the city&rsquo;s average.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s one small example but you could look at really harnessing the market-rate activity that we have in high-value neighborhoods to do affordable development in the same type of neighborhoods,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p dir="ltr">Because right now, at least under the old rules, that&rsquo;s not what Chicago is doing.</p><p dir="ltr">In the last two years, the city put money from the developer fund toward nine affordable housing developments.</p><p>Only one would probably be considered in an opportunity area &mdash; and it was for window replacement.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="map"></a></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/aro/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/aro/">Click for fullscreen map</a></em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Oct 2015 04:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-developers-shell-out-millions-rather-build-affordable-housing-113371 Despite mandate, affluent suburbs fail to build affordable housing http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-mandate-affluent-suburbs-fail-build-affordable-housing-113274 <p><p>A couple of years ago the congregation at Zion Lutheran Church gathered to decide what to do with five and a half acres of grassy open space surrounded by lush trees on the north side of its property. &nbsp;</p><p>The church has called the prosperous suburb of Deerfield home since the mid-1950s and most of the area is surrounded by large single-family homes. But Pastor David Kyllo said members ruled out building more McMansions.</p><p>&ldquo;We were a little bit concerned about that because that&rsquo;s really not giving back to the community,&rdquo; Kyllo said.</p><p>He says another idea bubbled to the surface: affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lihtc1_151012_nm.jpg" title="David Kyllo is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Deerfield. The church wanted to build affordable housing on its property but dropped the proposal after heavy opposition from village residents. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></div><p>Zion Lutheran saw this as an opportunity to build housing for people who work in the area, but can&rsquo;t afford to live there. The congregation voted to go forward with the plan and a developer was brought on board. Called Zion Woods, it would consist of 48 apartments for families of four earning $45,000 a year with rents no more than $900 a month.</p><p>The church wanted to use Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the largest federal initiative for building affordable housing. The LIHTC program, begun in 1986, gives developers the tax credits as an incentive to promote fair housing and integration.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a name="map"></a><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/" target="_blank">MAP:&nbsp;Low-Income Housing Tax Credits in the Chicago metro area</a></strong></p><p>WBEZ analyzed where LIHTC credits have been used since the program&#39;s inception and found affordable housing tends to be clustered in areas with higher rates of poverty and racial segregation. That means fewer developments are being built in wealthy suburbs like Deerfield.</p><p>About 25 miles north of Chicago, the village is home to corporations like Walgreens and Baxter. It&rsquo;s population is 94 percent white, and the median income is $103,000. With access to good schools and jobs, Deerfield is considered an &ldquo;opportunity area&rdquo; for families in need of affordability and more amenities.</p><p>This was one of the reasons behind Zion Lutheran&rsquo;s proposed development. But it soon became clear that its benevolent mission didn&rsquo;t inspire everyone.</p><p>In May, the church presented its proposal at a public meeting of the Deerfield Plan Commission (<a href="http://deerfieldil.swagit.com/play/05142015-972" target="_blank">the video can be found here</a>) and opposition was fierce. Even before the meeting opponents sent&nbsp;<a href="http://www.deerfield.il.us/news/default.aspx?Archive=y&amp;ArticleId=395">dozens of letters</a>&nbsp;to the village, criticizing the development and a necessary zoning change.&nbsp;</p><p>Many neighbors cited concerns about density, traffic and declining property values. Others worried about school overcrowding (district officials have said those fears are unfounded). One resident speculated that children in the housing development will be &quot;prone to violence and theft.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">&#39;But Not Next Door&#39;</span></span></p><p>This isn&rsquo;t the first time Deerfield has been caught up in a controversy over new housing.</p><p>Back in 1959, the uproar over a proposed integrated subdivision <a href="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1959/11/19/page/73/article/housing-plan-in-deerfield-under-attack" target="_blank">made national headlines</a>. Residents used racist comments to talk about the threat to their property values. Some even characterized integrated housing as an economic stab in the back. Ultimately, the homes were never built.</p><p>The entire episode was chronicled in the book&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=16521289779&amp;searchurl=tn%3Dbut+not+next+door%26sortby%3D20" target="_blank">But Not Next Door</a>&nbsp;</em>(1962), written by Harry and David Rosen, brothers and social workers who lived in Deerfield. It was referenced more than once by supporters of the Zion Woods project during the public hearing in May.&nbsp;</p><p>For decades after World War II, housing policy favored suburbs like Deerfield. There was federal financing for single family homes. New expressways helped facilitate white flight. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was supposed to fix this. But nearly 50 years later, the law still has more bark than bite.</p><p>Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal insists the village is addressing the issue of affordable housing in its comprehensive plan.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a roadmap for the future and if there&rsquo;s an opportunity for a site to be developed as affordable housing, the village would support it if it fit into the area well,&rdquo; she said. When asked if the village was actively trying to get that kind of development, Rosenthal responded: &ldquo;not at the moment, but we&rsquo;re not discouraging it.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1_ZionWoods_Prefil_Material050815-75.jpg" title="A proposed rendering of the Zion Woods affordable housing development. The LIHTC-funded project includes 48 apartments for families of four earning $45,000 annually with rents no more than $900/month. (courtesy of Eckenhoff Saunders Architects)" /></div><p>In 2009, no LIHTC developments were in Chicago suburban opportunity areas. Today, that number is improving, but there is still resistance in many communities.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/228056868&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Jessica Berzac is a developer who works particularly in the Northwest suburbs. She recently worked on an independent living development in Wheeling for people with various disabilities. The prosperous suburb is deemed an opportunity area. The median household income is higher than the region&rsquo;s average and there&rsquo;s high access to jobs, abundant commercial activity and good schools.</p><p>Berzac said initially neighbors objected and repeated familiar anxieties.</p><p>&ldquo;&#39;These people will wander the streets and change the character of my neighborhood. When I bought my home here 30 years ago, I expected to only be surrounded by single-family homes,&#39;&rdquo; Berzac recalled.</p><p>Originally, the Wheeling village board said no to the development. Berzac&rsquo;s company sued. A settlement was reached and recently Berzac finally closed on the property &mdash; five years after she began.</p><p>Another suburban affordable housing project, Myers Place in Mt. Prospect,&nbsp;breezed through for Berzac&rsquo;s team. It, too, is independent living with supportive services for the mentally ill and disabled.</p><p>Delfina Constanza has lived at Myers Place for two years. She&rsquo;s a domestic violence survivor and suffers from depression.</p><p>&ldquo;I was living in my car when I moved here,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Constanza had been on a waitlist to find supportive housing. Then she received a piece of good news in the mail.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s when the letter came and I was like shocked. I couldn&rsquo;t believe it. Tears came to my eyes of course but because I was so happy. Finally, after so many years of waiting and waiting,&rdquo; Constanza said, adding that living at Myers Place &ldquo;has built my confidence a little bit more. I have established myself here. I&rsquo;m comfortable here. I feel safe here. And I like the surroundings as far as stores and library across the street.&rdquo;</p><p>She pays three hundred dollars a month in rent for her one bedroom apartment, and has on-site services to manage her depression.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Lots of &lsquo;opportunity,&rsquo; little development</span></span></p><p>Getting suburbs in opportunity areas to embrace affordable housing can still be an uphill climb, but that&#39;s starting to change because of various federal and state policies.</p><p>This past July, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Chicago to&nbsp;<a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2015/HUDNo_15-084">announce a new rule</a>: locales that receive HUD funding must turn in a plan outlining their affordable housing strategies.</p><p>&ldquo;This represents a new partnership with cities and other public entities. One that makes it easier to fulfill the goals of the 1968 Fair Housing Act,&rdquo; Castro said at a former Chicago public housing site on the South Side.</p><p>Just a month before, the U.S. Supreme Court&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/supreme-court-inclusive-communities/396401/">ruled that even unintentional policies</a> that segregate minorities in poor neighborhoods are in violation of the Fair Housing Act, which bans racial discrimination. The case centered on Low Income Housing Tax Credits.</p><p>These were two huge wins for affordable and fair housing that advocates say will have an impact in Illinois.</p><p>The Illinois Housing Development Authority allocates federal tax credits to sell to investors to generate private equity for affordable housing developments. That reduces the developer&rsquo;s debt who can in turn offer lower rents.</p><p>Excluding Chicago, IHDA allocates $23 million dollars in tax credits for the state.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen an abundance for affordable housing and tax credit projects in particular within certain communities and not others,&rdquo; said Mary Kenney, the recently departed executive director of IHDA.</p><p>Kenney said 10 years ago the agency started looking at unemployment and poverty. Officials analyzed where tax credits were going &mdash; and where they were not.</p><p>IHDA came up with a plan and won&rsquo;t accept affordable housing applications in places where there&rsquo;s an abundance. Developers now receive more points if their proposal is for an opportunity area.</p><p>This last go-round of low income tax credit awardees included one third in opportunity areas.</p><p>&ldquo;When I speak publicly, one of the first things I say to people is you walk by buildings I&rsquo;ve financed every single day and you don&rsquo;t know it,&rdquo; Kenney said.</p><p>Like the four-story, 39 unit Myers Place in Mt. Prospect where Delfina Constanza lives.</p><p>Kenney said other tools can nudge defiant communities. Illinois&#39;s Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act was enacted in 2003 to encourage local governments to incorporate affordable housing into their communities.</p><p>Yet many affluent municipalities, like Deerfield,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/highland-park/news/ct-hpn-suburbs-affordable-housing-mandate-tl-0813-20150807-story.html">skirt the law</a> citing home rule. The state said Deerfield is in violation but nonetheless faces no penalties.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s never had its first case. And it&rsquo;s largely because they don&rsquo;t have the teeth in terms of enforcement,&quot; Kenney said. &quot;I&rsquo;d love to see the [State Housing Appeals Board] empowered. If you asked me one easy thing we could do, we could tighten up the statute down in Springfield. We could make it applicable to home rule units.&quot;</p><p>Other advocates have argued for a regional government to help balance where affordable housing goes so municipalities don&rsquo;t act on their own.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Just don&rsquo;t call it &lsquo;affordable housing&rsquo;</span></span></p><p>Gail Schechter, executive director of Open Communities, a north suburban group that promotes integration, is looking for new approaches. The group used to have &#39;housing&#39; in its name but dropped it to sound more inclusive.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re an advocate for low-income people and their right to live where they choose, and you believe in mixed-income housing, hammering that as it is, is not necessarily going to convince people,&rdquo; Schechter said.</p><p>Back at Zion Lutheran Church in Deerfield, Pastor Kyllo said people are definitely not convinced. He sits on a bench facing the open land where members had hoped to build 48 units of much-needed affordable housing.</p><p>Not long ago the congregation withdrew its proposal for Zion Woods.</p><p>Kyllo admits they capitulated to the pressure.</p><p>&ldquo;I wish that I could say otherwise. People have a discriminatory taste in their thoughts. I don&rsquo;t think they have a realistic look at what life could be like. I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;re willing to change and look at new ways of thinking. I don&#39;t think they are looking at the possibility about what a greater integration could mean for the community and the richness that could draw on,&rdquo; Kyllo said.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s not giving up. And when his team goes back to the drawing board, he says they&rsquo;ll take a lesson with them.</p><p>Don&rsquo;t use the term &ldquo;affordable housing.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em><a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/lihtc/">Click for fullscreen map</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Email her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>. Follow Natalie on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-mandate-affluent-suburbs-fail-build-affordable-housing-113274 ‘Unconscious discrimination’ at play in the West Loop? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-13/%E2%80%98unconscious-discrimination%E2%80%99-play-west-loop-112369 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/214562738&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">&lsquo;Unconscious discrimination&rsquo; at play in the West Loop?</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Coming under fire for racially-charged comments made at a recent community meeting about rental development in the West Loop, Alderman Walter Burnett said he stands by his comments about the area becoming a &lsquo;bigot neighborhood.&rsquo;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Many residents spoke out against more rental units coming to the West Loop, stressing homeowners provide stability to a neighborhood; renters come and go quickly. Burnett said preferring renters only or homeowners only is a form of &ldquo;unconscious discrimination&rdquo; and he&rsquo;s fed up. Alderman Burnett joins us to discuss what measures he&rsquo;s putting in place to make sure the area is a mixed community. Carla Agostinelli, executive director of the West Loop Community Organization, also joins us talk about how the group wants to promote a responsibly diverse community.</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:</span></strong><span style="font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit;">&nbsp;<em><a href="https://twitter.com/AldermanBurnett">Walter Burnett</a> is a Chicago alderman and Carla Agostinelli is the executive director of <a href="http://westloop.org/">West Loop Community Organization</a>.&nbsp;</em></span></p></p> Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-13/%E2%80%98unconscious-discrimination%E2%80%99-play-west-loop-112369 Rents may be going up, but residents say they're not going anywhere http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust-2.png" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="(from right) Arturo Chavez and his roommate, Jorge Herrera, share an apartment for $700 a month in Albany Park. A new building owner is evicting them to convert the units into upscale rentals." />There&rsquo;s a fight brewing in Albany Park over who gets to live there.</p><p>Arturo Chavez would like to stay in the North Side neighborhood, where he&rsquo;s lived for roughly three years &mdash; but that seems increasingly unlikely.</p><p>&ldquo;I go around in a car, looking for places,&rdquo; he says, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I see ads, and I call the numbers. Some places were being remodeled. I was told they were going to rent it, but later they told me they had already leased it to family members.&rdquo;</p><p>Chavez is one of the few remaining tenants of 3001 W Lawrence Avenue, a courtyard apartment building with 32 units. In August, new owners bought the building and notified its tenants that they were all to be evicted. The plan is to gut rehab the units and turn them into upscale rentals.</p><p>Inside, ceiling pipes have started to leak and parts of the walls are falling off. Chavez, a car mechanic who has been fighting for workers compensation since he was injured last year on the job, knows he&rsquo;ll have to leave soon. But he says he hasn&rsquo;t been able to find another place nearby that comes close to the $700 monthly rent he pays now.</p><p>&ldquo;The rents are too high and that means people are being separated and they&rsquo;re moving to areas farther away,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antonio Gutierrez, an organizer with the community group Centro Autonomo in Albany Park, says scores of low-income Albany Park residents have been pushed out in recent years. Just like Chavez, they&rsquo;ve been unable to keep up with the rising rents and property values in some areas.</p><p>&ldquo;I would say about 40 percent of them, they ended up having to leave Albany Park and having to move outside the city to suburbs,&rdquo; said Gutierrez.</p><p>Between 2011 and 2013, the median home price in Albany Park rose almost 40 percent. Gutierrez says after the recession, speculators flocked back to the neighborhood, buying foreclosed homes and driving up property values.</p><p>So last year, Centro Autonomo decided to try a creative idea to bolster affordable properties in the neighborhood: it created a &ldquo;community land trust&rdquo; called Casas del Pueblo. The land trust is a non-profit entity that will acquire properties in the neighborhood, then rent them out.</p><p>&ldquo;(The rent) would just be the taxes for the property, the insurance for the property and a maintenance fee,&rdquo; Gutierrez explained. &ldquo;And they can stay there for as long as they want.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Albany-Park-Median-Home-Sales-Price-Median-Sales-Price_chartbuilder.png" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The concept of community land trusts is not new to the Chicago area. Gutierrez&rsquo;s variety is a slight twist on something that&rsquo;s been tried before, just a few miles south, in West Humboldt Park.</p><p>There, three, red brick single family homes sit on a residential street next to the noisy Union Pacific rail line.</p><p>&ldquo;The homeowners say the walls were built in a way it&rsquo;s not really bothersome,&rdquo; said William Howard, former Executive Director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council.</p><p>Under Howard, the Council created the First Community Land Trust of Chicago, also a non-profit, in 2003. He said residents at that time were worried their neighborhood might become unaffordable. With the alderman&rsquo;s support, the land trust bought city property for $1 and built the 3-bedroom homes.</p><p>&ldquo;Were it not for these spots, the gentrification would have just swamped everybody,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;A lot of people would have moved out.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Land-trust.png" title="William Howard led the establishment of the first community land trust in Chicago in 2003. It built three, single-family homes that remain affordable, though the recession halted its expansion. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>Howard&rsquo;s land trust follows a more conventional model than the one in Albany Park.</p><p>Instead of renting the homes, it offered them for sale.</p><p>&ldquo;The land trust owns this land in perpetuity,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And then we get the homeowners, and the homeowners own the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Howard said three things keep land trust homes affordable. First, homeowners don&rsquo;t buy the land; they only buy the house itself. That means the house sells for much less than its market value.</p><p>Second, homeowners have to agree to resale restrictions.</p><p>&ldquo;Even if the homeowners decides later on they want to sell the home, they must sell it to someone of a like economic profile,&rdquo; said Howard. &ldquo;Otherwise the land trust goes bust.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, homeowners have to sell the home to someone that qualifies as low-income. That keeps the resale price of the house low.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="320" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/gentrification/widget/14/" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="400"></iframe></p><p>Finally, homeowners only pay property taxes on the value of the house, not including the land.</p><p>Howard originally wanted to build ten homes, but the timing didn&rsquo;t work out.</p><p>&ldquo;We only got three up,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone at that point had any idea that the recession would last as long as it did or be as deep as it was.&rdquo;</p><p>During the recession concerns about gentrification in West Humboldt Park fizzled out.</p><p>The First Community Land Trust of Chicago still exists, but only to collect the nominal monthly ground lease from the three homeowners in those homes. Property values in the neighborhood dropped so much after the housing bubble burst that it doesn&rsquo;t make sense for the land trust to build additional homes.</p><p>But there is another Chicago-area land trust that&rsquo;s flourishing. It&rsquo;s north of the city, in Highland Park. Luisa Espinosa-Lara and her family once struggled just to rent in this wealthy suburb.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought OK, one day (when) we are able to buy a house, it&rsquo;s not going to be here,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Houses here are so expensive.&rdquo;</p><p>But thanks to Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Illinois&rsquo;s oldest and largest community land trust, Espinosa-Lara and her husband were able to buy a three-bedroom house in Highland Park. They paid $175,000 for it, roughly half of its market value.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like when you feel that you win the lottery, but like you get millions,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because you don&rsquo;t have to go. And I think it&rsquo;s so painful when you have to leave.&rdquo;</p><p>In Highland Park, the community land trust isn&rsquo;t really about gentrification. Instead, it&rsquo;s about creating inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Antonio Gutierrez hopes to do back in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood. But he&rsquo;s taking on a big challenge. Community land trusts typically need hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs, to buy, renovate or build homes. Most of them rely on a mix of public grants and private donations.</p><p>Casas del Pueblo doesn&rsquo;t have that kind of money, so Gutierrez hopes to persuade banks to donate foreclosed homes to the community land trust. So far, this strategy has yet to bear fruit.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single time I get to a meeting with a bank, the first thing they ask is how many houses do you have now? How many houses are you managing? And when we say zero, they close the door,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Still, Gutierrez remains undeterred.</p><p>He believes once they have a couple of homes, others will look to his community land trust as a model for how gentrification can benefit even those it would normally displace.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rents-may-be-going-residents-say-theyre-not-going-anywhere-111269 SRO tenants gain protections http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS7102_IMG_2085 (outside 2)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Low-income tenants of Chicago&rsquo;s disappearing single-room occupancy hotels have new protections under an ordinance city council approved Wednesday. The &ldquo;Chicago for All&rdquo; ordinance, as it has come to be known, passed 47-2, with only Aldermen Carrie Austin (34th) and Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st) opposing. Supporters of the measure hope it will slow the trend of affordable SRO units falling into the hands of for-profit developers who displace low-income tenants.</p><p>&ldquo;This is all a piece of an overall fabric,&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose office helped broker the compromise between affordable housing advocates and SRO owners. &ldquo;The housing strategy particularly is part of a five-year plan: 41,000 units of affordable housing in the City of Chicago.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s office worked closely with sponsors Alderman Walter Burnett (27th), Ameya Pawar (47th), and a coalition of organizations including ONE Northside, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and many more.</p><p>The ordinance regulates the sale of SRO buildings such that owners are encouraged to negotiate first with buyers who intend to preserve the building as affordable housing. If an owner opts not to do so, he may sell to for-profit developers and pay into a city SRO preservation fund at the rate of $20,000 per unit in the building. The preservation fund, in turn, could be used to provide forgivable loans to SRO owners who wish to make building improvements, to subsidize building purchases by preservation buyers, and to build new SRO buildings in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;In places like the Fourth Ward, we believe that we are doing our fair share when it comes to affordable housing and public housing,&rdquo; said Alderman William Burns (4th).&nbsp; &ldquo;And when we look at other places in the city, we ask what&rsquo;s being done to create affordable housing on the north lakefront? On the North Side of Chicago? So that there&rsquo;s equal opportunity for people to have affordable housing throughout the city&mdash;and particularly in communities where there&rsquo;s access to good schools, jobs, grocery stores, and an opportunity to break down racial segregation in this city?&rdquo;</p><p>Burns and other aldermen praised the ordinance for addressing, in part, the city&rsquo;s shortage of affordable housing. In particular, they cited it as a key way to combat the problem of homeless veterans. Housing advocates estimate about one-quarter of SRO residents are war veterans who might otherwise be homeless. Mayor Emanuel has declared one of his goals in the 2015 budget will be to end veteran homelessness in Chicago.</p><p>Additionally, the ordinance would provide additional financial assistance for SRO residents who are displaced. It would require building owners to pay between $2,000 and $10,600, depending on the circumstances. It would also forbid SRO owners from retaliating against residents who complain to the city or the news media about conditions in their buildings.</p><p>Negotiations between the city, advocates and SRO owners were challenging. Initially, many SRO owners hoped the city would shy away from regulations, and instead offer more financial incentives for them to keep their buildings affordable. But concerns early on that the regulations may be enough to prompt a lawsuit against the city have largely dissipated.</p><p>&ldquo;We were disappointed that the ordinance fell a bit short. We, and so many other stakeholders over about six months had been working very diligently,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation. &ldquo;We will, as operators, do our very best to work with the plan, with the ordinance, as it was presented.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6cd3f03c-a623-4dee-4055-9af79ec2a054"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 16:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sro-tenants-gain-protections-111093