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Chicago for All readies SRO preservation ordinance

Tue, Jun 17, 2014

The Chicago for All Coalition, headed by ONE Northside, announced at a City Hall press conference May 28 that it will introduce an ordinance to the Chicago City Council next month aimed at preservation of SRO housing in Chicago.

The proposed ordinance would require SRO owners to apply to the City’s Department of Planning and Development if they wish to substantially rehab a building. The permit would be granted only if the owner preserves the unit as affordable, rebuilds units in the same community or pays a fee to the City for the loss of the housing.

The proposal is a response to the loss of more than 2,200 units in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels to market rate development in the past three years, which has displaced tenants and forced them to seek housing from a dwindling supply of affordable units. There are 6,000+ units not owned by mission-driven developers that are at risk of being converted to high-end housing, according to Chicago for All. The Milshire Hotel in Logan Square is the most recent example, along with the Chateau Hotel in Lakeview last year.

“We live in a city where we have a lot of people doing well and a lot of people not doing well,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th ward), a lead sponsor of the ordinance.

“We need to be a humane society that helps everyone do well. Everyone needs a decent place to stay.”

Ald. Ameya Pawar, (47th ward) another lead sponsor, said the ordinance will have incentives “to help building owners maintain their properties so some of our most vulnerable citizens have a place to live.” The group had met with Mayor Emanuel the day before and Pawar promised a “balanced ordinance.”
Other groups in the 13-member Chicago for All include the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

Suzanne Hanney
StreetWise Editor-In-Chief


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