Committees push Pilsen, Little Village preservation strategy, five-year housing plan

A city strategy to preserve Little Village and Pilsen’s housing and the mayor’s five-year housing plan were two measures on the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate committee’s agenda on Thursday morning. The two plans were pushed through, albeit with a little controversy, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

There was a dispute during the meeting regarding a quorum, according to the newspaper. 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez wanted to postpone the vote because fewer than eight of the committee’s 15 members were present. After a short recess, the meeting went on with six members followed by a vote to approve the items up for discussion.

The committee approved ordinances that amended an Affordable Requirements Ordinance pilot program in Pilsen and Little Village and authorized the city to acquire land for El Paseo trail. Also on the agenda was an ordinance to adopt the mayor’s five-year housing plan. These ordinances were introduced at the last City Council meeting in November.

The mayor’s preservation plan for Pilsen and Little Village comes in part from the city’s effort to stop gentrification ahead of the El Paseo trail project. The strategy details new housing resources to help existing residents avoid displacement caused by gentrification, ways to increase sustainable jobs, and open space improvements to build the neighborhood’s resources.

Another part of the strategy called for the creation of a historic district in Pilsen, which was approved at the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards meeting on Thursday.

The mayor’s five-year housing plan was developed over a seven-month period and based on input from 120 “housing professionals” and around 150 ideas submitted through an online portal, according to the mayor’s office.

The plan includes a $1.4 billion framework that would support 40,000 residential units, invest in affordable rental housing and resources for vulnerable residents, provide tools for neighborhoods facing gentrification, and expand affordable homeownership opportunities. 48th Ward Alderman Osterman shared a presentation with some details on the proposal which can be found on his website.

As part of the mayor’s budget, the housing plan for 2019 to 2023 would be implemented by a new Department of Housing instead of the Department of Planning and Development.

Next week the full City Council will vote on these measures. That meeting will take place at 10 a.m. on December 12.

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