August 1, 2016

Chicago: Stop 2 for the Millennial Trains Project

Chicago-Millennial-Trains-Project.jpg
Photo courtesy of Millennial Trains Project

Although Chicago continues to lose its population throughout the city, development near transit has helped to double its downtown population. This growth has mostly been driven by young, affluent renters, whose desire to live in the city has impacted housing affordability. Forty-eight percent of Chicago’s low-income workers now spend more than half their income on rent each month, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing the growing crisis.

Encouraging Growth and Affordability Through Ordinance Reform

In 2015, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel introduced a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) reform ordinance to further accelerate development at transit stops by more than tripling the amount of land eligible for increased density. That same year, Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) was reformed to encourage additional mixed-income developments. Starting this year, developers receiving City subsidies or zoning changes must either include affordable homes in their project or pay an in-lieu fee to support affordable homes elsewhere.

 
 

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A video posted by Twitter: @RachelReillyC (@rachelreillyc) on

The Metropolitan Planning Council is a leading advocate for equitable TOD (eTOD), and their Grow Chicago initiative is urging the City to leverage development along its public transit network to “give more Chicagoans excellent access to high-quality schools, jobs, retail and parks.” They estimate the 20-year social and economic benefits of the 2015 TOD reform ordinance will include 1300 new affordable homes at transit stops and a $150 million increase in the Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund. MPC’s Grow Chicago Calculator allows you to explore the benefits of TOD throughout the city.

So, There’s This Parking Lot I’m Really Excited About.

Enterprise Community Partners is providing capacity building grants to community developers pursuing eTOD projects in Chicago, and our eTOD Collaborative enhances the collective impact of those efforts. Enterprise has a loan fund with expertise in providing capital that helps these same organizations acquire and hold land at future transit sites, and preserve affordable homes in transit-rich neighborhoods.

Join me as I explore Chicago on August 2 by following @RachelReillyC and @MakeRoomUSA on Twitter and Instagram. I will be talking with residents in the Logan Square neighborhood and looking at new development in the Ashland Avenue Corridor.

Logan Square

Changes in the housing market along Milwaukee Avenue’s Blue Line are forcing longtime residents out of their homes. The impact can be clearly seen in Logan Square, where rents have risen more than 60 percent since 2000, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s eTOD Social Impact Calculator. The 2-4 unit buildings where working families have traditionally lived are being converted to single-family homes, and new transit-oriented luxury high-rises are rapidly changing the neighborhood’s character. The community is rallying around all opportunities to preserve and create affordable homes, and I will be speaking with residents who fear that their neighbors, friends and families will soon be priced out of their homes.

Ashland Avenue Corridor

The Ashland Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project recently received a $58 million federal grant through the Small Starts program. The 16-mile line will provide a crosstown rapid transit connection between heavy rail lines, serving densely populated neighborhoods where one in four residents is transit-dependent. The new BRT will run just two miles to the east of the Blue Line’s Logan Square station and has the potential to increase development pressures currently affecting Logan Square residents.

Follow Along With Me

I am headed to Kansas City next, so come back to Housing Horizons on August 2 to read about the new Kansas City Streetcar, a B-Corp developer focused on eTOD and the planned expansion of the BRT system to serve a long-disadvantaged community.

You can also keep up with my trip on Instagram and Twitter at @RachelReillyC, @MakeRoomUSA and @MillenialTrain.