Monday, December 22, 2014

IVI-IPO candidate questionnaire: Housing


49. Will you vote to amend the Vacant Properties Ordinance to require mortgage servicers to register their properties?
Possible answer:

I do not believe registering vacant properties goes far enough.

If a property is vacant for six months, the owner should have to pay a monthly fee, perhaps $250.

Vacant homes destroy communities. Businesses that are viable when 95% of properties in a community are occupied stop being viable when the vacancy rate goes up to 25%.

Properties that are vacant and behind on paying fees should be seized and given to owner-occupants who commit to restoring the property to full compliance with city code.

50. Do you support enacting an ordinance to preserve Single-Room Occupancy housing?

Possible answer:

Alderman James Cappleman is not a good person. He invokes being a social worker and uses the language of social work to be a hatchet man for developers. Cappleman makes it sound like eliminating SROs and affordable housing in Uptown is somehow good for the people affected. Cappleman makes it sound like eliminating housing for poor people will lead to them getting better government services.

James Cappleman is not a good person.

But the SRO issue is bigger than Uptown and Ward 46.

Over time SROs are being converted and torn down. Wikipedia notes that Chicago lost 81% of SRO units between 1960 & 1980.

My guess is that there are few developers who seek to acquire a parcel of land to build SRO housing.

If we want there to be SRO housing, it probably has to be built with taxpayer money.

I support thwarting Ald. Cappleman's crusade to convert every SRO in Uptown into something developers can sell to Yuppies, but I think there needs to be an affirmative plan to produce units not just a holding action to slow the destruction of units.

51. Will you vote for an inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring developers to set aside 30% of   residential new construction or renovation for the creation of affordable housing? 

Possible answer:

Should there be affordable housing? Yes. Has requiring developers to set aside units worked to produce affordable housing? I am open to concluding it has mostly worked, but I'm open to concluding it's mostly failed.

If the set asides mostly go to medical residents and graduate students who are technically of modest income (at this point in their careers), have the set asides served the people who need affordable housing? Not that grad students should be homeless, but the pool of people who need housing is bigger than this.

52. What measures will you support to guarantee that some of the foreclosed properties saved through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program are made affordable to families at 40% and 60% of AMI?
Possible answer:

As I wrote above, I do not approve of housing sitting vacant because it has been foreclosed upon.

If the fee isn't enough incentive to get the owner to sell it, collect the money from the owner. But if the owner falls behind, seize the property and give it away to someone who will live there and bring it up to code.

If these vacant properties belonged to Native Americans, the government would quickly declare the property not useful in their current state and give them to settlers who would make use of them. What's the problem with taking property not being used from banks and integrating that property into the local community and the local economy?

My difference with IVI-IPO's question is that the amounts are too high. The property should be transferred at an amount that is enough to cover the cost to the government of processing the transaction and ensuring the new owner fulfills her/his commitment.

Fuck the banks.

53. What procedures and safeguards would you put in place on conversion/demolition of SRO’s and other low income housing to ensure that affordable housing will continue to be available for low income tenants who would otherwise be displaced?
Possible answer:

If Chicago wants property owners or management companies to accept more Section 8 tenants there is a simple solution.

If either the property owner or management company has more than six units under their control (or some higher level), they should have a minimum number of units that have Section 8 tenants. If they don't have that minimum number of tenants then hit them with a tax on each unit. Set the tax high enough and landlords and property management companies will embrace Section 8 tenants.

54. What measures will you support to ensure that there is an adequate supply of affordable family sized units available to families in the Section 8 program?

55. What measures will you support to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals and families who are not served by any existing programs?
Possible answer:

My understanding is that CHA has a large number of units it holds but keeps vacant. That's one source of housing.

I want to put a large number of units that are currently vacant into use. That's another source of housing.

I want to create more housing for homeless veterans where they can get services. That's another source of housing.

I am willing to use city money to build more SROs.

I am willing to bang on my Congressman's/Congresswoman's desk to increase money for Section 8 to reduce the wait times for Section 8 vouchers. I would recommend a small tax on the fees charged by banks for home mortgages and making it more expensive for banks to foreclose on properties as revenue streams for Section 8.

56. Do you support low income rental housing that is affordable to those at 15% to 30% of AMI built in your ward?
Possible answer:

I support there being affordable housing. But I am not deep enough in the weeds of housing policy that I feel answering "yes" or "no" to this question would be a meaningful answer.

My experience interacting with aldermen does give me the impression they are this deep into the details of housing policy either.

57. Do you support supportive housing for people overcoming addiction and other problems which contribute to homelessness built in your ward?
Possible answer:

I support housing being available for homeless people seeking treatment for substance abuse.

58. Do you support shelters for the homeless in your ward?
Possible answer:

I support shelters for the homeless.

59. Do you favor a moratorium on the conversion or demolition of SRO’s pending the development of protections and remedies to protect the displaced tenants from becoming homeless?
 Possible answer:

Yes. And Ald. James Cappleman can kiss my ass.

60. Do you support allowing the demolition of existing public housing units without new or rehabilitated replacement housing on a one-for-one basis?
Possible answer:

We need to have enough public housing. Replacing one-for-one is not a high enough standard if Chicago needs more public housing.

61. Which standard should the City use to define affordable housing?
Possible answer:

This question seems like I'm being asked to take sides on some arcane academic debate. People need housing that meets their needs. That's the issue, not whether some academic from UIC is more correct than some academic from University of Chicago. "My PhDick is bigger than your PhDick."

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