Chicago’s primary voters gave us a historic first last night: two African American Women will face off to become the next Mayor of Chicago. The voters also gave us a much more Progressive City Council that supports more regulations and more taxes on real estate. 

Regardless of the outcome of the Mayor’s race, the homebuilder community will be facing a very difficult challenge to advance commonsense policies for housing affordability for all in the midst of an anti-development wave in the City Council. 

In the Mayor’s race, Toni Preckwinkle endorsed rent control, Lori Lightfoot did not.  Preckwinkle helped create the original Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), while Lightfoot has called for expansion of ARO.  Both candidates support lower property taxes for affordable housing and an affordable building code, but both also support raising the transfer tax.  Although neither appears pro-development at this point, that could change in the coming weeks as they scramble for votes. 

Please note that neither candidate got more than 17.5% of the primary vote, which means more than 80% of Chicagoans already voted against each of them.  As a result, both will be seeking new friends and new allies to build a winning coalition on April 2.  Which one will reach out to development community for support, or will both try to be more progressive than the other?

Meanwhile, we are seeing a dramatic turnover in the City Council where it is possible that the Progressive Caucus could become the leading force on issues.  Key incumbents chose not to run, lost in the primary or face run-offs in the General Election.  Newcomers will make up one-third or more of the new City Council.  This will be a City Council unlike anything we have seen before for real estate issues.

In the coming weeks, HBAGC will review the Mayor’s Race and Aldermanic Run-offs to keep you informed where the candidates stand on key real estate issues.

We also will present research findings that shows why the ARO is not working and offer alternative policies that can create true Housing Affordability in Chicago.   Easing the housing strain in Chicago will only come from creating more affordable housing for all with incentives and tax cuts, not by restricting supply through policies such as the ARO.

Homebuilder advocacy has never been more important.  Help us to fight for your industry, your livelihood, your future.

Paul Colgan

Government Affairs

Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago