Older people need affordable housing, too

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Dear President Adduci & River Forest Village Trustees:

Arbor West Neighbors (AWN) is a local grassroots organization that supports and advocates for older people. Operating in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and Austin, we have a strong commitment to the creation and sustainability of safe, decent, and affordable housing for the area's aging population. We oppose prejudice against older people and support justice and fair treatment for all people. 

As an organization for, and primarily composed of, older community residents, we are attuned to the rapidly changing demographics of our population, and the resulting challenges and opportunities. As pointed out by the respected industry publication Senior Housing News (April 24, 2019), by 2029, 54 percent of middle-income older people will not be able to afford senior living. This harsh fact of life is nowhere reflected in your affordable-housing ordinance.

The AWN Advocacy Committee believes the affordable housing plan that you recently approved on June 8, 2020 is very limited regarding the interests of our older residents and can be improved by the adoption of several changes. As stated in our letter to you prior to your recent vote, we suggest the following changes:

1. Amend the Zoning Code to incorporate an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that requires all new multifamily developments to include at least 15% affordable housing units.

2. Amend the village's zoning code to permit the approval of "accessory dwelling units" as a means of increasing the availability of moderately-priced rental and ownership units for the village's aging population.

3. Require the preservation and/or replacement of existing affordable units that may be lost through demolition. At a minimum, we recommend that the village require that each affordable unit be replaced on a one-for-one basis with a new affordable unit. 

AWN greatly appreciates the opportunity to offer its input to the village board. We also offer our technical expertise to the board as it moves forward.

Susan Stall

Chair, AWN Advocacy Committee

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