City releases fifth 5-year housing plan since 1994

There's a new plan to help thousands of Chicagoans find affordable homes.
January 15, 2014 3:28:14 PM PST
There's a new plan to help thousands of Chicagoans find affordable homes.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has just laid out a five-year plan to create housing for low- and middle-income families in the city.

This is the fifth time since 1994 the city has released a five-year plan for housing and the first time the Emanuel administration has authored such a plan. The new effort will focus on living space for lower- and middle-income residents:

With pricey condominiums having replaced public housing projects and neighborhoods where thousands of houses and apartment buildings are now abandoned, affordable homes for working class Chicagoans are disappearing.

As housing activists demonstrated at City Hall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel released his plan to assist developers in building 41,000 new housing units by 2018.

"And they can't do it without the support of the public sector," he said.

The city's credibility problem related to housing worsened in the mid-1990s when the Chicago Housing Authority began razing public housing. Mayor Richard M. Daley promised that displaced residents could return to their neighborhoods to newly built, affordable homes,

"They're all gonna stay. They're all gonna stay," Daley said in 1997.

Instead, most of the replacement housing was never built as the city lost about 200,000 residents in the last census.

"The projects were wrong when they were put up and wrong when they were torn down," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward.

Much of Mayor Emanuel's plan will focus on building and rehabbing rental apartments for low-income workers necessary for the city economy's retail and service sectors.

"The need that we have out there to produce a five-year plan for subsidized housing for rental units for people of modest income to make sure they can still work and meet their needs," Emanuel said.

The mayor says between now and 2018, Chicago will have about $200 million less to spend on housing development compared to the previous five years. He says the city can reach its goal of 41,000 new housing units by using better management than in the past.