The Chicago Department of Housing has selected 20 people for a new task force that is taking on affordability.
The task force — comprised of advocates, activists and developers — will focus on updating the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), which was enacted in 2007 and updated in 2015. It’s a key tool that has provided working families a chance to live in posh neighborhoods.
The ARO requires residential developments that receive city financial assistance, or that involve city-owned land, to provide a percentage of units at affordable rents. However, the ordinance allows developers to opt out of building affordable housing by paying a fee. Half of the ARO fees paid by developers who choose not to build affordable housing on site go toward the city’s Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, which assists families in poverty. And developers have paid tens of millions of dollars into that fund.
“The ARO is, first and foremost, a tool to reverse a century of racial and economic segregation. So that’s our focus,” said Marisa Novara, housing commissioner.
The task force will meet over the next six months to strengthen the tool for more inclusionary housing.
Critics of the ARO system say it prevents working families, seniors, people with disabilities and people of color from accessing amenity-rich communities.
On Friday, the “Our Home, Chicago” coalition is planning a protest in Lincoln Park over a development that they say skirted affordable housing requirements. The coalition has crafted the Development for All Ordinance that calls for reform by increasing the affordable housing requirement to 30 percent of units and by removing the option for developers to pay into a fund in lieu of building affordable units on site.
Novara said the concepts of that proposed ordinance will go before the task force, which also includes three members of the coalition.
The housing commissioner said 200 people applied and that the task force represents racial, gender and geographic diversity.
The ARO task force members are:
•Joy Aruguete, CEO, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation
•Alireza Bahramirad, Project Manager, National Equity Fund
•Ciere Boatright, Vice President, Real Estate & Inclusion, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives
•Beniamino Capellupo, Executive Director, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
•Christian Diaz, Lead Housing Organizer, Logan Square Neighborhood Association
•Evelyn Diaz, President, Heartland Alliance
•Edgar Flagg, Chief Real Estate Development Officer, The Resurrection Project
•Jasmine Gunn, Development Project Manager, Claretian Associates
•Christine Haley, Director of Housing, Cook County Health
•Charlton Hamer, Sr. Vice President, Habitat Affordable Group
•Tony Hernandez, Community Development Finance Manger CIB
•Jeff Hreben, Development Manager, Tandem Construction, Inc
•Tom Kirschbraun, Managing Director, Jones Lang LaSalle
•Mowa Li, Development Associate, Magellan Development Group
•Noah Moskowitz, Senior Community Organizer, ONE Northside
•Cathleen O’Brien, Housing Community Organizer, Access Living
•Julio Rodriguez, Director of Community Schools & Youth, Northwest Side Housing Center
•Paul Shadle, Partner, DLA Piper
•Susan Tjarksen, Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield
•Joanna Trotter, Sr. Director of Community Impact, Chicago Community Trust