Mayor is committed to affordable housing legislation, but not specifically the proposed CBA

Then-Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot at an April 3 press conference at Rainbow PUSH headquarters. (Herald file photo)

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff writer

Mayor Lori Lightfoot anticipates passing affordable housing legislation in early 2020, but she is not committed to passing the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) ordinance Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) have introduced.

All three elected officials say the proposed ordinance has legal issues; the mayor wants the eventual ordinance to be legal, balanced and supportive of continued access to housing for existing residents near the OPC. The ordinance was introduced in response to concerns about displacement and rising housing costs around the Obama Presidential Center site and the University of Chicago

The aldermen and legal representatives from the city and the CBA Coalition will meet Monday to discuss the effort.

“From day one, Mayor Lightfoot has been clear that her administration needed to step up and play a role in addressing legitimate concerns of residents and not maintain a void that left only the Obama Presidential Center and University of Chicago as the sole actors responding to residents. Toward that end, the Lightfoot administration is focused on ensuring a robust and inclusive community engagement process as the Obama Presidential Center project comes to fruition,” mayoral spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said in a statement Saturday morning. “A key issue identified by residents is affordability of housing.

“As a result, the Department of Housing has led weekly meetings with Woodlawn residents, aldermen and other stakeholders to inform an affordable housing plan that will further our goals of preventing displacement and building new homeownership in the area. With this input, the mayor has committed to finalizing this plan by the year’s end, while continuing to ensure that as this project moves forward, the city leverages all of its tools to maximize community benefits for residents and businesses.”

The statement comes after Taylor said Friday Lightfoot told her the ordinance would pass by the end of the year. Stakeholders, including the Housing Department, have met in Woodlawn to develop affordable housing plans.

“I don’t know what’s legal and illegal, which is why we’re having this meeting on Monday: I still haven’t gotten a clear understanding from the administration what is and what is not,” Taylor said, responding Saturday to the mayor’s statement. She added that she planned the meetings after hearing from constituents that homeowners were insufficiently protected by the CBA ordinance as introduced.

“I’m clear about what the city’s job is, but I’m crystal clear about what my job is as alderwoman, and my job is to protect my constituents and my ward, and I’m going to do that by any means necessary,” Taylor said. “I am tired with playing games with folks about language, how people think about people, and their candle-light vigils. Roll up your sleeves, and let’s do this work to protect this community.”

a.gettinger@hpherald.com