This month, city council approved an urban renewal plan, which will facilitate outcomes from a $20 million affordable housing bond. That bond is part of the larger, aforementioned $850 million bond package.
If voters were to sign off on the entire bond, the city’s Office for Urban Redevelopment would use the $20 million to buy properties in 12 distressed areas identified by the city. All but one of these areas lie inside Loop 410; several of them are on the West, East and South sides as well as around downtown.
The money would be used to do environmental remediation of the vacant or abandoned properties, as well as for infrastructure improvement in those areas. The properties then would be put up on the market. Developers interested in building affordable or mixed-income housing on such a property would have to go through a specific process to gain approval.
After that, an appointed residential panel would advise the city in reviewing projects and ensure they do what they’re meant to do — increase new housing opportunities for low-income and working-class residents, especially in the inner city.
Council members have said, through various media accounts, the urban renewal plan is a prime opportunity for the city to give considerable reinvestment in a variety of older neighborhoods.