Chicago Adopts Recommendations to Expand Accessible Housing

The Chicago City Council voted on December 12 to approve the proposed City of Chicago 5-Year Housing Plan (the Plan) for years 2019-2023. The Plan will guide the work of the new Department of Housing (DOH), which will split off from the Department of Planning and Development. The winner of the mayoral election will select the DOH Commissioner.

I represented Woodstock Institute on the Plan’s Advisory Committee and submitted a number of recommendations for inclusion in the Plan based on our 2017 Aging in Place report, which included local, state, and federal policy solutions as well as financial services product suggestions to help older adults age safely in their home and community. I am pleased that the proposed Plan adopts several of these recommendations, including allowance of more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or “granny flats,” which are second housing units for parents, caregivers, children, or other company.  The Plan also highlights the need to increase the number of homes that are accessible to people with disabilities and mobility challenges and to coordinate housing and health services to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, including older adults.

In order to address the legacy of discriminatory housing policies and ongoing segregation along racial and ethnic lines, Woodstock Institute and other groups also called for an end to “aldermanic prerogative,” which allows aldermen to block development of affordable and mixed-income housing. This “not-in-my-back-yard” or “nimbyism” perpetuates structural racism and limits economic mobility for Chicago families.

Woodstock looks forward to working with the Chicago mayor, new DOH Commissioner, and Plan team to implement the Plan and expand access to affordable and accessible housing in all of our communities.