Letter to Alderman Suarez-July 7, 2010

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Valerie F. Leonard 4111 West 21st Place Chicago, IL 60623 773-21-3137 valeriefleonard@msn.com Hon. Ray Suarez Alderman, 31st Ward Chairman of the Committee on Housing & Real Estate 4502 W. Fullerton Ave. Chicago, IL 60639 Dear Alderman Suarez: I am a resident of the North Lawndale community in the 24th Ward. I am writing to express support for the proposed Sweet Home Chicago Ordinance. The proposed ordinance would dedicate 20 percent of TIF funds collected towards affordable housing construction
  Valerie F. Leonard 4111 West 21 st  PlaceChicago, IL 60623773-21-3137valeriefleonard@msn.com    Hon. Ray SuarezAlderman, 31st WardChairman of the Committee on Housing & Real Estate4502 W. Fullerton Ave.Chicago, IL 60639Dear Alderman Suarez:I am a resident of the North Lawndale community in the 24 th Ward. I am writing to expresssupport for the proposed Sweet Home Chicago Ordinance. The proposed ordinance woulddedicate 20 percent of TIF funds collected towards affordable housing construction andrehabilitation. Developments would qualify to receive funds if 50 percent of the units wereaffordable to households earning less than $37,000 for a family of four. In addition,citywide, 40 percent of the units created each with the dedicated funds must serve   households earning less than $22,600 a year for a family of four. For housing that is forsale, units would have to be affordable to families of four earning less than $60,300. If thiswere in effect in 2008, $110 million would have gone towards housing.Data from the 2000 Census suggest that North Lawndale had a high concentration of poverty, with a median family income of $20,585. At the time, 3,958 (41.7%) of the 9,484families were living below the poverty line. Approximately 51.5% of the 3,422 families withrelated children under the age of 18 were living below the poverty line. Two thousand, ninehundred sixty-three (2,963) families, or 31.2% of all families, earned less than $10,000 peryear. Families making $20,000 a year can afford rents of about $500 per month, and topurchase homes in the $71,000 range.The local nonprofit agency whose plan drove the Ogden-Pulaski TIF sponsored a designcharrette in which the community preferred developments that were 20% affordable. Theaffordable housing units in the design concepts were affordable to people making 80%-120% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which includes the Chicago metro area. At the   time of the charrette, this would have meant that the affordable units were in priceranges affordable to people making $60,000-$90,000, which is 3-4.5 times the local medianincome. Bear in mind that before the recession, North Lawndale had an unemployment rateof 17% (not including discouraged workers) , and ranked #3 in the city with respect to   mortgage foreclosures. This issue was raised with the local community development corporation, as well as the nonprofit planning agency that helped coordinate the event. Tothe best of my knowledge, very little progress, if any, has been made. We need thisordinance to provide incentives to build housing that is affordable to current residents of communities impacted by TIFs.  Recommendations If the ordinance is passed, it is important that the City also includes the necessaryinfrastructure to track and report the Sweet Home Chicago Funds and job creationactivities.1.   Every TIF budget should be amended to reflect the Sweet Home Chicago setaside,with the funds tracked as a separate line item. As it stands, the City of Chicago doesnot explicitly include funds from programs like the Small Business Improvement Fund and Neighborhood Improvement Funds in the local TIF budgets. However, theCity routinely deducts these expenses from the TIF funds. As a result of this practiceand others, TIF expenses often exceed the srcinal TIF budget.2.   There should be mechanisms to ensure that that the TIFs have sufficient funds topay for the program. We have seen instances in which the TIF redevelopment budgets have been increased without regard to whether there were sufficient funds   to cover proposed projects over the next 3 years. For example, the TIFRedevelopment budget for Midwest TIF was increased from $100.5 million to $132million, in spite of the fact that the City has projected a $6 million deficit for 2010and a $7 million deficit for 2011.3.   TIF annual reports should include budget versus actual expenses in general,including the line item for the Sweet Home Chicago program.4.   TIF annual reports should include a jobs report, which includes the number of jobscreated from Sweet Home Chicago, HUD Section 3 and jobs generated from thebusinesses that have been created with TIF funding.In closing, I thank you for your consideration.Sincerely
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