Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=227339
Story Retrieval Date: 7/24/2014 3:25:26 AM CST

Top Stories
Features
HousingPlan_PHOTO

City of Chicago/Housing Plan draft

Cover image from the 2014-18 housing plan, which is expected to pass a City Council vote on Wednesday.


Housing plan expected to pass City Council Wednesday, officials say

by Melanie Saltzman
Jan 30, 2014


The 2014-18 Chicago housing plan is expected to be approved by City Council Wednesday.

The five-year plan passed the housing committee Tuesday with a vote of 10 to 2. Introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Jan. 15, the plan is likely to pass the full council, according to officials who say approval is essentially guaranteed:

“The administration has been clear that the plan is the plan, and it’s going to move forward the way they want it to,” said Paul Sajovec, chief of staff to Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who voted against the plan in committee.

The plan focuses on providing affordable housing and reducing costs, both for owners and renters, as well as investing in community development to strengthen the housing market.

The city will invest over $1.1 billion in preserving or building 41,000 units, with 75 percent of those going to residents earning less then 60 percent of the local median income, or $44,000 for a family of four.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) voted for the plan in the housing committee, because it “will invest significant resources to create needed affordable housing in Chicago," he said Thursday.

Opponents cite concerns about a lack of focus on public housing, Chicago Housing Authority oversight and accountability. They say filling several thousand vacant public housing units and distributing thousands of available housing vouchers, for reduced rents in private housing, should be a top priority.

There are currently 40,000 people on the CHA’s waiting list for a public housing unit or housing voucher, according to Matt Aguilar, CHA’s manager of media relations.

The concern, Sajovec says, “is that the CHA has continued to accept all of this money from the federal government - they sit on empty units while their waiting list continues to grow,” Sajovec said. “We don’t feel as if the plan adequately addresses the deficiencies in the city’s overall approach to affordable housing.”

The plan cites the housing market collapse, foreclosure crisis, and a population decline of 200,000 people from 2000-10 as reasons to take a new approach to Chicago housing. The initiatives encourage not only a focus on construction, but also on community development, as a way to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods and then market them as appealing places to live.

While most expect the vote to occur next week, there is uncertainty as to whether it will be up for debate. “They are not necessarily going to entertain any changes or adjustments,” Sajovec said.