Access Living Does Not Support the City’s Amended Affordable Requirements Ordinance for Housing


April 22, 2021 | by Bridget Hayman

Access Living along with our coalition partners at the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI), do not support City Council’s passage this week of the amended Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO).

The ordinance requires rents that are 20-50% higher than disabled people can afford, and only requires offering the family size units our support workers and family members need if the developer is allowed to build fewer affordable units. It also allows developers to opt-out of 50% of the required affordable units, which is ill-advised considering the overwhelming shortage of affordable housing in Chicago. 

We expected real change and this is not it. 

For more than a year Access Living took part in The Mayor’s Inclusionary Zoning Taskforce, working toward better solutions for people with disabilities that are not represented in the current ordinance. 

We worked with our partners in CHI, Alderwoman Maria Hadden and others to introduce and support the Chicago Inclusive Housing Ordinance, which is the result of the collective wisdom of our Taskforce. We then engaged in good faith negotiations with DOH and believed we were very close to an ordinance that was a good public policy compromise. 

Instead, the ordinance that was passed willfully ignores the better alternative solutions we’ve offered, and findings from the City’s own Department of Housing (DOH) Taskforce. 

In a recent report from the Taskforce, the dire need for more housing that people with disabilities and people of color can afford along with the need for overall access was explicitly called out, and we were hopeful that these findings would further open the door for us to work together with the the DOH to find real housing solutions for people with disabilities, our support workers and other historically marginalized people groups who lack housing security. 

The majority of people with disabilities in Chicago are people of color who make just $791 a month, and are frequently denied accessible housing because there simply isn’t enough of it. Most of the Personal Care Assistants who make it possible for people with disabilities to stay in our homes are women of color who make $22,000 a year and need two and three bedroom apartments in order to accommodate their families. 

The coalition will be reconvening to figure out our next steps.