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Artist housing brings new canvas to Washington Park

Artist housing brings new canvas to Washington Park

January 20, 2018

Chicago artists can look forward to affordable housing and studio space at the new KLEO Art Residence, which has broken ground at the southwest corner of Garfield Boulevard and Michigan Avenue near Hyde Par...

Jefferson Park can become model for new Chicago

Jefferson Park can become model for new Chicago

By Tyra Bosnic

September 5, 2017

A fierce debate over affordable housing in Jefferson Park began Jan. 26 when Ald. John Arena (45th Ward) revealed plans for a 100-unit, mixed-income apartment building. This development would bring affor...

Tipping the scale: Adjuncts accuse administration of demanding ‘unethical’ grade changes

Tipping the scale: Adjuncts accuse administration of demanding ‘unethical’ grade changes

April 10, 2017

After a student missed 10 of the 15 class sessions for a course, adjunct professor in the Creative Writing Department Marcia Brenner gave the student a failing grade. Soon after, she said college administrators asked her to change the grade to a pass. The college’s faculty manual ...

Chicago’s pot luck

By Samuel Charles

November 7, 2011

At the most recent Chicago City Council meeting on Nov. 2, Alderman Daniel Solis (25th Ward) introduced a new bill that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana.If passed, those caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana would be issued a $200 ticket instead of being arrested and potentially facing jail time.There really isn’t a downside to this proposal. Cops won’t waste time on low priority drug arrests, fewer...

Ordinance to create affordable housing

By Meghan Keyes

September 12, 2010

Chicago is home to nearly 3 million people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, morethan two-thirds of Chicago households earn less than the Area Median Income for CookCounty, which is $75,100 for a family of four.The new Sweet Home Chicago ordinance proposes to allocate 20 percent of taxincrement financing funds generated each year toward affordable housing for low-income Chicagoans.  TIF funds are a part of property tax designated to the district they came from and are used within the district.The ordinance was introduced on March 10 and is working its way through the CityCouncil. It was assigned to a joint committee on financing and housing and had its firsthearing in July.The committee’s next step is to meet on Sept. 21 with the mayor’s office, lawyers and the housing committee, according to Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th Ward),the ordinance’s sponsor.“The mayor’s office really has a lot of control of this, and basically they’ve been saying,‘We’re not ready for you to vote on this,’” said Julie Dworkin, director of policy for theChicago Coalition for the Homeless. “But we have been having conversations with themayor’s office.”The ordinance currently has 22 aldermanic co-sponsors and 66 endorsements fromvarious organizations.“Before the group came to me about  Sweet Home, I was already speaking with people,telling them they should use TIF dollars to help developers,” Burnett said. “When theybrought Sweet Home to me, it was right on target for what I’ve been working on for twoyears.”The ordinance is led by the Sweet Home Chicago Coalition.  One of the organizationswithin the coalition is Action Now, a grassroots organization working on economic,social and racial issues in Chicago.“In the communities where we work, affordable housing is needed badly becauseforeclosures have destroyed communities,” said Aileen Kelleher, communicationsdirector for Action Now. “We’re trying to get affordable housing there so people havesomewhere to live, especially in the recession.”The TIF funds generate around $500 million per year, according to Dworkin, whichmeans this initiative would have about $100 million per year to spend. This could createup to 1,400 units with other funding sources including federal, state, private funding andloans.“It would also put people to work,” Dworkin said. “The industry has been really hurting.It would create jobs and not just in the construction industry, but all of the industries thatsupport the construction industry.”She estimated 3,000 jobs would be created.In order for a development to qualify for the money, 50 percent of the units would haveto be affordable. For rentals, housing needs to be affordable to residents earning less than$37,700 for a family of four.However, citywide, 40 percent of the total units created have to be affordable tohouseholds earning less than $22,600 a year for a family of four. Units for purchase mustbe affordable to households earning less than $60,300 for a family of four.The ordinance itself has not had opposition, according to Dworkin. Alderman Ed Burke(14th Ward) and Alderman Ray Suarez (31st Ward) are the heads of the finance andhousing committees, respectively.According to Dworkin, Burnett asked Burke when they would vote on the ordinance, andhe stated they would at the next finance committee meeting.Another factor in the ordinance’s future is Mayor Richard M.  Daley’s announcement thathe will not run for election again, because the TIF funds are allotted by the mayor and hisoffice.“I think more people will do what they feel is right,” Burnett said.Dworkin thinks their progress so far keeps things looking positive.“If anything, it’s probably going to be a good thing because Daley will have less self-interest in holding on to the TIF money,” Dworkin said. “It still remains to be seen.”A similar law is in effect in California, where 20 percent of TIF funds in every district areused for low-income housing, according to Dworkin.“[The ordinance] uses TIF funds for their intended purpose, which is to go back into thecommunity, instead of creating a huge war chest of funds for the mayor,” Kelleher said.“It directly affects people in Chicago’s communities.”

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