My name is Andrea Mitchell, and I'm speaking on behalf of Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park. I'm not an activist or a paid protester - I'm a Jefferson Park homeowner, a mother of children in a CPS school, and a registered voter. I'm representing the forty plus community members and friends in chambers today, and hundreds more who recognize the incredible need for affordable housing in Chicago.
Our group came together in February to support the proposed development at 5150 N Northwest Highway. In the face of well-documented, ugly opposition, we grew from a handful of determined neighbors, to a force that packed the zoning chambers on May 22. Today, we will reach more than 250,000 people with a coordinated social media campaign to bring more engaged citizens to this movement.
However, as this esteemed council likely knows, both the state and city have now failed to fund 5150 North Northwest Highway. The development checks all of the boxes for the city's self-declared affordable housing priorities:
- CHA and sliding scale units
- Set asides for veterans and individuals with disabilities
- A transit oriented development near a fully accessible Blue Line station
- And, significantly, 50 units for families, close to employment and great schools.
There's a group here to speak with you about school equity today, and we want to be clear: not building 5150 doesn't prevent overcrowding in our neighborhood schools. It only continues to deny access to those who were, by design, excluded from the northwest side from the very start.
The problem is so acute that my five-year-old was able to grasp what we are fighting for - she told me, Mommy, everyone needs a place to live. And the solution of affordable, accessible, integrated housing in opportunity areas can address so many issues: poverty, and education, and employment, and the health of our citizens, and limited police resources, and the exodus of our population, and the city's burgeoning debt, and even Chicago's glaring segregation. And yet, despite the thoughtful and multifaceted plan, despite the critical need, the city did not fund 5150 N Northwest Highway.
Today is not a protest: it's a promise. A promise that we will we will use our voices and our privilege to keep the issue of affordable housing at the forefront. We promise to push our elected officials, from Ward offices to City Hall to Springfield, to make affordable housing a priority, because we believe every home is a changed life. We promise to support Aldermen who take the political risk for affordable housing, especially in opportunity areas.
And we promise to do our part on the northwest side. The Independence Library development is a good start, and we thank you. But some of our wards have ZERO AFFORDABLE UNITS. That's unacceptable.
This is our promise, and we ask for a promise from you, Mayor Emanuel, and from the members of City Council, to work with us to bring affordable, accessible, integrated housing to the northwest side of Chicago.