Initial Reaction to the City of Chicago's ARO Task Force Report | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

On Monday, September 14, the City of Chicago Department of Housing released the Affordable Housing Task Force Report, which can be read in full here.

On September 23, the Chicago City Council, Committee on Housing and Real Estate held a subject matter hearing. At that time, the Chicago Association of REALTORS® Government Affairs Directors Kristopher J. Anderson and Adriann Murawski provided public comment. This committee hearing may be viewed online here. The ARO subject matter hearing and public comments occurred during the first 24 minutes of the meeting. A discussion of the report began at the 2-hour mark.

The executive summary of the report lists the following:

  • An equitable inclusionary housing policy needs to meet the needs of low-income, Black and Latinx Chicagoans.
  • The ARO should deliver units where they are not needed while offering developers more flexibility, prioritizing inclusion at the community and citywide level.
  • For Chicagoans with disabilities, “inclusionary” housing must be both accessible and affordable.
  • The ARO should continue to recognize different market conditions across the city.
  • The ARO should offer meaningful incentives to allow developers to meet affordability requirements.
  • Chicago has a fundamental need for more affordable housing funding, especially if changes to the ARO lead to less revenue from in-lieu fees.

The report makes a point of identifying other jurisdictions with similar ordinances and provides a synopsis. The highlighted cities include Boulder, Colo.; Cambridge, Ma; Los Angeles, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash. It will be important to do everything possible to learn what works and what’s lacking in these various cities.

One of the recommendations most exciting to REALTORS® is the idea of a centralized leasing and marketing system. A significant complaint of the current way the ARO functions is builders have affordable units that sit vacant for long periods of time and conversely, potential renters and purchasers do not know how to be certified as affordable housing candidates. A centralized leasing office may provide solutions to these problems. A recommendation noticeably missing is a call for increasing the in-lieu (penalty) fee, which is encouraging. An increase of in-lieu fees will be fought vigorously by this association and others.

A proposed ordinance revising the 2015 Affordable Requirements Ordinance may be submitted as early as December, but it is more likely to be submitted in February 2021.

The general public (including members of trade associations) are encouraged to read the report. If you have comments, you may e-mail them to arocomment@cityofchicago.org. The Public Comment period expires on Thursday, October 29. The REALTORS® and other industry advocates are considering written submissions.