Diversity, affordability, integration

The Oak Park Regional Housing Center recently asked candidates for trustee to provide a 200-word summary describing "your views and commitment to promoting diversity and integrated living in the Village of Oak Park...your position on the recently passed affordable housing ordinance, your views about the Village’s commitment to supporting fair and open housing with its budget, and your thoughts about how best to promote community building, equity and inclusion among the diverse communities within Oak Park." Josh provided this reply:

A key action in creating the affordable housing we need in Oak Park is an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (IZO). The Village Board got the ball rolling, but the new Board will need to continue working on it, in consultation with affordable housing experts and the community. As Trustee, I will work to:

  • Design stronger incentives to create mixed income housing and mixed-income neighborhoods. Preserving integration and increasing the number of affordable units are equally important goals.
  • Expand the area of application beyond the two narrow corridors around the L lines specified in the current ordinance.
  • Create additional incentives for developers to provide affordable housing at lower ranges of the economic spectrum.
  • Establish rewards other than allowing larger developments in return for including affordable units, so we don’t further errode controls on height and density for new construction.

The IZO should dovetail with additional approaches such as using developer funds to rehabilitate and repurpose existing buildings, to provide direct rental subsidies, to modernize the Oak Park Housing Center, and to support the Residence Corporation. Beyond housing, equity and inclusion require active outreach and real listening, involving citizens of all types in planning and decision making.