Today’s Headlines for Monday, November 5

  • Wisniewski Looks at Efforts to Promote Affordable TOD to Fight Displacement (Tribune)
  • 3 More Wards Will Vote Tuesday on Referendum to Lift Rent Control Ban (Block Club)
  • Metra Worker Killed, Another Injured in Explosion Along MD-N Line (ABC)
  • Police Searching for Driver Who Injured Woman, 27, in Leyden Township (NBC)
  • 6 Hospitalized After an O’Hare Shuttle Driver Rear-Ends Another Bus (ABC)
  • Audio: CTA President Dorval Carter Spoke at the City Club of Chicago Last Month
  • Chicago’s Air Quality Isn’t Great. Should We Bike Wearing Pollution Masks? (Chainlink)

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  • planetshwoop

    Everyone is seeking the wrong solutions to affordable housing.

    First, if you’ve had the pleasure of living in a rent control area, it’s probably not something you’ll ask for. I’m sure implementations vary, but typically it means buildings become really dilapidated because you can’t invest in them, and two classes of apartments exist: those under rent control, and those that aren’t. It leads to all sorts of perverse attempts to get people out of buildings, or things getting really run down, and rarely is an actual solution to the problem (affordable housing), it’s a solution for the people in there at the time, and can worsen the problem because why build buildings if you can’t charge market rent? This isn’t me trying to be an Econ 101 person, but my experience with rent control in California where rents were crazy even with rent control.

    Second, the pitiful efforts are “affordable housing” won’t solve much either. Whether it’s inadequate political posturing by Rosa, or letting developers buy out their spaces, not much will happen with the current law.

    Fortunately, it is pretty well known what is needed to be done. Up-zoning needs to be expanded to allow density all over the city, not just in a small circle around el stops. Allowing more in-law units (like a garage conversion) would help. Let homeowners expand their bungalows into two-flats. And most important, and probably most controversially, *require* affordable housing to be built all over the city or better yet, the region.

    The speed with which zoning changes are granted for senior housing — I can think of 3 buildings within a 1 mile radius of my house — means we have the means. Just not the will.

    In the long term, I don’t think these problems can be fixed without radical changes to how housing is financed. Single-family homes are subsidized through cheap loans without the equivalent for apartments. “Your home is your asset” is discussed at length and perverts our process for evaluating where to live as home, and not a transaction. Tax breaks for home loans. Etc etc. Change the incentives to give tax breaks for 3-BR apartments all around the country and slowly, things will change. It’s not inevitable!

  • ardecila

    The TOD article is interesting, but it misses the point. Poor Chicagoans are less and less likely to work downtown with every passing year, but our rail system is downtown-focused to a fault. A more robust bus system could possibly carry Chicagoans to some retail and industrial jobs in the outer neighborhoods and inner suburbs, but really low-paying jobs gravitate to cheap land that tends to be on the sprawly urban fringe where transit cannot reach.

    Also: there are hundreds or thousands of acres of vacant land just waiting for TOD along the Green Line and Pink Line. But the Latinos being displaced are loathe to move into a black neighborhood. The Orange Line stations are all surrounded by strict industrial zoning that can’t be developed for housing. There are many opportunities to build affordable TODs in Chicago, but they require the city and its residents to compromise on other goals.

  • Tooscrapps

    Well put. Would love to see some restrictions or pay-in fees on de-conversions/tear-downs. While the new high-end TODs catch all the flak, the real displacement is taking place on the side-streets.