On Monday, March 9, a focus group made up of Chicago REALTORS® met with representatives from the City of Chicago’s Affordable Requirement Ordinance (ARO) Task Force to provide feedback and concerns about the program. Task Force attendees included co-chairs Alderman Harry Osterman and Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez, alongside Edgar Flagg of the Resurrection Project and Department of Housing Policy Director Daniel Kay Hertz, staff liaison to the Task Force.
Currently, the ARO requires residential developments that receive city financial assistance including upzoning or involve city-owned land to provide a percentage of units at affordable prices. The ordinance applies to residential developments of 10 or more units and requires that developers provide 10 percent of their units at affordable prices, based on the Area Median Income (AMI). Learn more about the ARO via our Issue Summary.
Our focus group centered our discussion on the following:
- EDUCATION – We are encouraging the City to take the lead but REALTORS® will partner to educate communities that ‘Affordable’ (100% and 80% AMI) is not poor; it’s working class and the narrative needs to shift to “WorkForce Housing.” Learn more about the Region’s Area Median Income (AMI). We believe the City needs to better the education to consumers on who qualifies as an ‘Affordable’ homeowner and make it easier for practitioners (developers, REALTORS®, leasing agents, housing counselors, etc.) to identify this class of consumer and instruct them properly. Many developers complain units sit vacant for long periods.
- CONSISTENCY – We believe if the ARO minimum is set by city ordinance, Aldermen shouldn’t be allowed to negotiate various limits for their respective wards.
- 2 MILE RADIUS RULE – We believe the two-mile radius for off-site units needs to be re-examined. Also, instead of a two-mile rule, the city should allow for off-site development in communities where gentrification is a fear because of incoming development (i.e. Woodlawn due to the Obama Presidential Center).
- BETTER USE OF CITY-OWNED LAND/ COOK COUNTY LAND BANK-OWNED LAND
- A COMPLIMENTARY COMMERCIAL FOCUS PROGRAM IS NEEDED – We believe this is a crucial addition to the ARO and will help bolster communities. We encouraged the city to consider what they can do to create more Englewood Square-type projects (Whole Foods, Starbucks, etc.) in communities starved for investment.
The Task Force members will continue to meet for a few months and the Task Force will issue a report. The report will include the findings presented to the Task Force as well as commentary offered by Focus Groups like ours. The Task Force will publish a report by summer and modifications to the ARO will be presented to the City Council based on these suggestions. Direct legislative impact will incur at that time. The REALTORS® made sure to express increasing the minimum requirements is bad public policy and partnering with our industry can produce more affordable housing at a cheaper price point. Our Focus Group leaders and other industry partners trust that will be reflected in the ordinances that are forthcoming.
Thank you to the members of the focus group for representing our industry well!
- Maurice Hampton, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, Centered International Realty
- James Ascot, Ascot Realty Group
- Mike Golden, @properties
- Dave Hanna, Compass
- Tony Hardy, Marcus & Millichap
- Jacqueline Martinez, Coldwell Banker Realty
- Zeke Morris, EMA Realty & Management/EXIT Strategy Realty
- Hugh Rider, Realty & Mortgage Co.
- Karen Schwartz, Dream Town Realty
- Staci Slattery, North Clybourn Group, Inc.
- Nancy Suvarnamani, CENTURY 21, S.G.R., Inc.
- Sarah Ware, Ware Realty Group
- Marty Walsh, Dream Town Realty