Posted on June 27, 2018

Aldermen Reject Northwest Side Affordable Housing Proposal After Heated Debate

Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune, June 26, 2018

Aldermen rejected a controversial affordable housing project Tuesday, following a heated debate over class and race.

At issue was a development proposed for 8535 W. Higgins Road in the O’Hare neighborhood to construct a seven-story building with about 300 housing units and, later, an office building. It would have contained 30 affordable housing units.

Ald. Anthony Napolitano opposed it, saying it would be too dense and raising “very serious concerns with the local schools that are extremely overcrowded that many of you want to dismiss.” The developer, Glenstar O’Hare, sued the city, saying the project was unfairly shelved by the alderman.

The City Council’s Zoning Committee eventually voted to agree with Napolitano and follow aldermanic prerogative, the Chicago tradition that a ward’s issues are best handled by the local alderman.

Supporting the O’Hare project was Ald. John Arena, 45th, who has faced criticism over a controversial affordable housing project in Jefferson Park he supports. In that case, opponents of the development say they’re worried about traffic congestion and school overcrowding, but supporters said the fierce pushback from some Jefferson Park residents was really about keeping minorities out of the bungalow belt neighborhood.

{snip} Quoting the story, Arena noted that picket signs said, “Norwood Park and Jefferson Park says no to Section 8.”

“I’m sorry, but ‘no Section 8’ has nothing to do with schools, housing or overcrowding,” Arena said.

Rather, he said, it has to do with “a bigotry against people perceived as low-income.”


Before voting, Pawar suggested that people Google opposition to affordable housing and look at the arguments made across the country. He suggested the City Council revisit aldermanic prerogative as it relates to affordable housing, and later tweeted he’ll introduce legislation to that effect.