A city-wide coalition of community groups seeks two modifications to the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) presented to the Chicago City Council December 9.
Enacted in 2003 and amended in 2007, the current ARO requires developers who receive financial assistance or land from the City to provide at least 10 percent of their units at affordable rents; for-sale units must be affordable to people earning 100 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Developers who do not wish to provide affordable units must pay an “in lieu of” fee of $100,000 to the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund.
“We support what the administration has done, they’ve actually sat with community groups and gotten their input,” Diane Limas said of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“We just have these minor tweaks,” added Limas, who is board president of Communities United (formerly the Albany Park Neighborhood Council).
Mayor Emanuel’s proposal would raise the price of for-sale units to be affordable to people earning 120 percent of AMI, or a family of four making $88,000, Limas said. “The people we represent don’t make anywhere near that much. We want to gear it more to a family of four making $50,000 or lower.”
In addition, the administration’s proposal would stagger “in lieu of” fees paid by developers in various real estate markets. In the three wards downtown and on the near South Side, fees would rise to $175,000. In “high-moderate” neighborhoods that are already gentrifying such as Albany Park and Logan Square, developers would pay $125,000 per unit, but in “low-mod” neighborhoods like Englewood and Oakland, they would pay $50,000 per unit.
Emanuel’s proposal to raise the fees downtown is a good idea, Limas and Eithne McMenamin, associate director of policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said in prepared material.
However, the coalition does not want to see the fee go lower, as in the “low-mod” neighborhoods, Limas said.
“What developers were saying is that it was a heck of a lot cheaper to put in the [$100,000] fee than to build units,” Limas said.
In a blog post for the Metropolitan Planning Council October 27, Marisa Novara wrote that while the ordinance had generated $19 million “in lieu of” fees since its inception, “only 184 actual units have been built in profitable markets.”
“We think that $175,000 downtown will allow a lot more money coming into the Low Income Housing Trust Fund, which could be used for subsidies for people who can’t pay rent, preservation of two- and three-flats,” Limas said. She quoted City figures that the fee will generate $95 million in five years. “We can think of very creative ways to use that money for preservation of affordable housing in the city.”
by Suzanne Hanney
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has called for an end to the Illinois law that automatically transfers children charged with certain felonies from juvenile court into adult criminal court. Preckwinkle’s December 12 speech marks the beginning of Cook County’s participation in the White House-led “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, which aims to address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.
The Illinois General Assembly enacted the automatic transfer law in 1982. Under the law, children must be prosecuted as adults if they are charged with crimes such as first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and armed robbery with a firearm. The children are generally age 15-17, but some are as young as 13.
Illinois is one of only 14 states that do not require an initial hearing in juvenile court prior to transfer. There is also no option in Illinois for judges to reverse the transfer based on circumstances, background, applicability of the charge, Preckwinkle’s office said.
“Prior to the passage of this misguided law, judges decided whether a young person would answer certain serious charges as a child in need of intervention and rehabilitation – or as an adult,” Preckwinkle said. “That decision now rests solely with the prosecution, based on the charges brought.”
A Juvenile Justice Initiative study of the Cook County court system found that 50 percent more children were transferred to adult courts since the automatic transfer law, and for less serious offenses. Prior to 1982, 48 percent of all young people transferred to adult courts were charged with murder but since then, only 13 percent of transferees are charged with murder.
Ultimately, 54 percent of young people who are automatically transferred are convicted or plead guilty to lesser charges, which would have remained in juvenile court if those were the original charges brought.
Automatic transfers comprise a growing percentage of the young people in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC). The average daily population of automatically transferred young people in the JTDC was 72 last December and 130 in October: 1 in 3 members of its population.
by Suzanne Hanney, from prepared materials