Chicago affordable housing problems demand sophisticated solutions; groups rising to the challenge

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Saturday, January 25, 2020
Sophisticated solutions rise to meet Chicago affordable housing problems
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Affordable housing a balancing act.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago faces challenges providing affordable housing options to residents, but there are some solutions in the works giving citizens hope.

Affordable housing a balancing act.

"If we are not creating affordable options for families, we'll continue to see this mass exodus," said 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez.

"We are going to try and balance growth and preserve communities," said 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman.

Some look to the example of other states like Wisconsin.

"If you have affordable housing, you don't pay property taxes, that's enormous," said Paul Roldan, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation. "It reduces the cost of rent."

Another solution is to add inventory: more units of affordable housing.

In Pilsen, the Resurrection Project is building 37 units of affordable housing at 18th and Racine. Long-time residents are fighting to stay in the neighborhood for their families.

"I want to leave this community or this earth comfortable knowing that our kids can continue to live in a community where they grew up," said Teresa Fraga, Pilsen resident.

A long-term plan being developed by North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council would allow long-time residents to stay in the neighborhood that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once called home.

"You get this justice that you're strong enough to get," said Richard Townsell, Lawndale Christian Development Center. "It's the only way you're going to get it. If you wait for someone else to do it for us, we'll be waiting."

In suburbs like Sugar Grove, Northwest Housing Partnership connects developers with state and federal grants to build affordable housing for seniors.

"I am still relatively young, I like to go out and spend time with people who are my peers and be out in the public, and I won't be able to do that if I didn't have that flexibility," said Kathy Edgar, Sugar Grove resident.

The Chicago Housing Task Force was recently formed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, seeking feedback on solutions to affordable housing challenges. There is a meeting scheduled for Jan. 30 on affordable housing preservation in Lawndale at Hyde Park Academy High School from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

There are also several home buying workshops coming up, including two at the MLK Center at 15th and Hamlin where King once lived on Feb. 22 and March 28.

For more information on upcoming counseling classes from HUD-certified counseling agencies, click here.

To apply to be part of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council, click here.