Exiling the Poor – In These Times

Affluent suburban communities are refusing to build state-mandated affordable housing, leaving the inner-city poor with few options

On the same day that Illinois Republicans voted to endorse Mitt Romney, residents in Winnetka, a Chicago suburb, voted on a seemingly straightforward question: “Should the Village of Winnetka expand [its] existing Affordable Housing Plan?” Seventy-five percent of voters answered, “No.”

The plan, whose tweaks to zoning law and modest subsidies might have been quietly approved in another place and time, instead became the center of a raging debate in which usually civil neighbors slung personal insults, community newsletters warned about a coming wave of sex offenders and the village council attempted to issue itself a gag order. The vote was the final nail in the coffin for an ambitious campaign, nearly a decade in the making, to open Winnetka’s housing stock to teachers, nurses, retirees, and students–among other working and middle-class people–who might want to settle among the CEOs and investment bankers who currently populate a community with a median household income of $167,000 a year.

But while some of the country’s wealthiest people rushed to reinforce the walls around their neighborhoods, others just a few miles away were tentatively pulling them down. Lake Forest, a suburb that, like Winnetka, is a member of Chicago’s wealthy North Shore, was preparing to sell its first two subsidized homes, using a model that had been employed with considerable success elsewhere in the area.

Read more at Exiling the Poor – In These Times.

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About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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