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Lightfoot Announces Task Force To Tackle City's Shortage Of Affordable Housing

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Taking aim at a 120,000-unit shortage of affordable housing in the city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced a new task force that will help develop potential solutions to a challenge that she touted as a priority on the campaign trail.

The task force will consist of up to 20 members, and meet monthly for 4 to 6 months starting in November, according to the mayor's office.

Lightfoot's office announced three co-chairs City Hall deemed "experts on housing, community investment and development": Community Investment Corp. director Stacie Young, Metropolitan Planning Council manager Juan Sebastian Arias, and PNC Bank Community Development Market Manager Tony Smith.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), who chairs the City Council Housing Committee, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) will serve as aldermanic co-chairs.

The mayor's office said it is seeking other members "from every background and experience in our city." The task force co-chairs and Department of Housing staff will choose the remaining task force members based on skills, knowledge, and experience in housing, as well as racial, gender, and geographic diversity.

The task force will be tasked with coming up with revisions to the city's existing Affordable Requirements Ordinance, which mandates that any development project which receives city assistance -- in the form of tax subsidies, city land, or a zoning change -- make 10% to 20% of the residential units they build affordable, or pay fees into a citywide affordable housing fund rather than build affordable units on site.

"Creating accessible affordable housing for all Chicagoans is necessary to ensuring equitable growth and prosperity for every resident, and doing so will require developing creative and sustainable solutions to this complex challenge," the mayor said in a statement.

Despite nearly 800 affordable units built in Chicago between 2005 and 2018, and another $94 million funneled into the affordable housing fund, the mayor's office said the city still has an affordable housing deficit of about 120,000 units.

The mayor's office said the goal is to come up with a revised affordable housing ordinance by the middle of next year.

Anyone can apply to be a member of the task force on the Chicago Department of Housing website.

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