A housing advocacy group is crafting an ordinance that would require affordable housing in new developments.

Housing Oak Park (HOP)-a consortium of several local non-profits-is working on an ordinance that would bolster Oak Park’s affordable housing stock. Called “inclusionary zoning,” it would require a certain percentage of new developments to contain affordable units. Or the developer could pay into a “housing trust fund,” which could be used for future affordable housing initiatives, said Ed Solan, executive director of the Oak Park Housing Authority and Residence Corporation.

Solan and others brought the idea up at a public hearing last Thursday on the subject of requiring developers to include “compensating benefits” in planned developments that would benefit the entire community.

“We’re trying to link planned development to inclusionary zoning,” Solan said.

HOP is currently looking at similar ordinances in nearby villages, and hopes to bring something to the village board to consider in the coming months.

Housing Programs Manager Tammie Grossman said inclusionary zoning is one of many possibilities Oak Park is exploring. Others include revamping the first-time homebuyer’s program and exploring employer-assisted housing (businesses give employees dollars towards renting or buying in exchange for a tax credit).

Grossman said five or six communities in the Chicago area use inclusionary zoning, and Oak Park does not seem to fit into the same categories as those.

According to the Illinois Housing Development Authority, 35 percent of Oak Park’s housing stock was affordable, using 2000 Census data. IHDA requires communities under 10 percent to come up with affordable housing plans, Grossman said.

Affordable housing was originally part of the planned development changes, but the board decided to remove it, instead making it part of a broader discussion, said Trustee Greg Marsey. The board is scheduled to decide on the planned development changes in June, but the affordable housing conversation will continue at a later date.

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

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