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  • City lifts curtain on plans for keeping housing affordable around Obama Center

    Officials had been coy about next steps on a potential community benefits agreement with the Obama Foundation.

    Obama Presidential Center in Chicago Jackson Park: The latest renderings
    Renderings: Obama Foundation

    The great lawn at the Obama Presidential Center.

    79彩票注册网址

    79彩票注册网址The city’s Department of Housing is working on a draft proposal to protect current residents within three-fifths of a mile of the proposed Obama Presidential Center.

    While Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the city would not take a back seat to the neighborhood’s future, department officials had been coy about next steps on a potential community benefits agreement with the Obama Foundation, plans for wide swaths of city-owned land in Woodlawn or for requirements for prospective real estate developers in the area.

    Today, Housing officials briefed reporters on an ordinance they are drafting to help protect current homeowners. The neighborhood is more malleable than most, Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said.

    "Thirty percent of the housing stock in Woodlawn is long-term guaranteed affordable. What that means is, no matter what changes happen in the private market, what happens to real estate values, a third will stay affordable. The other thing is, 25 percent of the vacant land in Woodlawn is owned by the city,” she said. “That’s more control than most communities have over future development in their area.”

    The ordinance would have six key components:

    • Right of refusal for large apartment building tenants if a landlord seeks to sell his or her building
    • Helping apartment building owners refinance properties to keep renters in place with affordable rates
    • Giving grants to long-term homeowners to help with home repairs
    • Financing the rehab of vacant buildings
    • Setting guidelines for how city-owned, vacant, residentially zoned land can be developed into affordable or mixed-income housing
    • Requiring developers that receive city-owned land to meet enhanced local hiring requirements

    Since October, the Housing Department has met with local aldermen Jeanette Taylor, 20th, and Leslie Hairston, 5th, as well as tenant organizations, CBA coalition members, housing groups, the Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago. “The thing I stressed most is everyone who lives in Woodlawn now should be able to stay in Woodlawn,” Novara said.

    79彩票注册网址But there’s no official draft ordinance yet, nor official sign-on from consulted groups. Housing officials and the Department of Planning and Development will host an open house to get extra feedback on January 30 at Hyde Park High School.

    In a release, the Obama CBA Coalition said it was “pleased” the mayor’s office is “addressing the urgent need for affordable housing in our area” but says her proposals don’t go far enough. 

    The group wants to see home ownership programs targeted at families making $70,000 annually or less and a third of new rentals built on city-owned land to be set aside as affordable “to minimum wage workers, security guards, home care workers and lunch ladies (that’s 50% AMI or less, or roughly $40,000 a year or less),” the release says.

    “We cannot wait. We are being pushed out now,” it says.
     

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