Editor’s Note: CCH is a partner in the Chicago For All coalition
By Tanveer Ali
Mayor Rahm Emanuel will introduce a bill that would set up a six-month moratorium on single-room occupancy housing and residential hotels deemed by advocates as “housing of last resort.”
About 6,000 units citywide could be affected by the moratorium, which the mayor’s office said will give the city time to work with property owners and organizations to develop permanent rules related to the issue.
Among the ordinance’s lead sponsors are Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who are members of the “Chicago For All” coalition that sought to introduce SRO legislation in May.
“We needed a little bit more time to iron out what a final proposal might look like,” said Pawar, whose ward has one SRO at the Lake View YMCA, 3333 N. Marshfield Ave.
Under the proposed ordinance, owners would be required ask the city’s permission to convert SRO buildings to market-rate housing. The owners would be allowed to convert their buildings only if at least 80 percent of the units are kept as affordable housing. Otherwise, the owners would pay a fee for the loss of affordable units.
“What we want to be able to understand is that if there are maintenance issues, or conditions are poor, separate that from the type of housing,” Pawar said. “The city needs to step up, and the mayor agrees, and create more incentives rather than sticks for property owners.”
The number of SROs in Chicago has dwindled over the course of several decades. In 1915, there were 3,700 operating in the city. Advocates say that as of last year, there were fewer than 150, both licensed and unlicensed.
At Lakeview’s Chateau Hotel, residents were forced to move out last summer after a new owner took over. Residents of Logan Square’s Milshire Hotel were told to leave by the end of May.