What is a Community Benefits Agreement? 

Community benefits agreements are contracts between developers and the community who will be impacted by that development. Groups like ONE Northside’s affordable housing team, working towards community benefits agreements at developments in Edgewater, Lakeview, and Uptown, and KOCO, fighting for a CBA for the Obama Library in Hyde Park, demand real, citywide standards for effective CBAs.

What is the ARO? 

Right now, the Affordable Developments Requirement (ARO) requires residential developments that receive city financial assistance or involve city-owned land to provide a percentage of units at affordable prices, similar to having citywide standards for community benefits agreements. However, these standards simply aren't enough to stop the rapid development happening across Chicago.

To date, at least 9,626 luxury units were created that triggered the ARO. According to the IG, this created between 300-600 onsite units and units created by fees in Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, and North Center. In just 2015 – 2016 howeverthese northside communities lost 5,030 affordable units, and as of 2016, 24,889 of households in these neighborhoods were still in need of affordable  housing.

ARO units are affordable for those making 60% of the AMI, or $33,180/year for a single person, but according to the American Community Survey, in 2016, 50,999 full households in the North Side make less than 30,000/year. 

A full-time worker making minimum wage ($13/hr), supporting only themselves, makes $27,040/year. 

What makes a strong Community Benefits Agreement? 

Something about aldermanic perogative, but also, maybe not.