The Council’s Housing Committee approved all items on yesterday’s agenda, including an affordable housing advocate’s move from the Chicago Plan Commission to the Low Income Housing Trust Fund Board, $1 lease agreements with three healthcare providers, and an $810,000 land sale in the “hot market” in the 27th Ward.

Attendance: Chairman Joe Moore (49), Vice Chair Gregory Mitchell (7), Pat Dowell (3), Sophia King (4), Leslie Hairston (5), Michelle Harris (8), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), George Cardenas (12), Walter Burnett (27), Ariel Reboyras (30), Deb Mell (33), Carrie Austin (34), Tom Tunney (44), James Cappleman (46)

The top of the meeting was dominated with talk of affordable housing, and aldermen declaring their sorrow at the departure of Juan Linares, the Executive Director of LUCHA, from the Plan Commission after serving less than a year to move to the Trust Fund Board. Ald. Walter Burnett (27) wondered aloud whether Linares could serve on both boards, and thanked him for his vocal affordable housing advocacy on the Commission.

Linares often pressed developers about their plans for on-site affordable housing, which some other commission members reminded him was not part of their purview. As one of fifteen members on the Low Income Housing Trust Fund Board, Linares would decide whether buildings receive rental subsidies or interest-free forgivable loans to create more units for very low-income individuals or families.

Lease agreements for three city-owned clinics, in Lakeview, Englewood, and Pilsen, were approved by the committee. The city will lease those clinics until 2022 for $1 each. 6,400-square feet at the Lower West Side Health Clinic would be leased to the University of Illinois to deliver primary care, maternal health, and preventative medical services, according to the ordinanceAld. Walter Burnett (27), whose ward borders the clinic’s home in the 25th, told fellow members, “whatever we can do to help this economic engine continue, I support.”

Ald. Tom Tunney (44) voiced support for lease of roughly 14,000-square-feet of clinical office space in the Lakeview Neighborhood Health Clinic to The Thresholdsfor mental health and substance abuse services, group therapy, and wellness classes. “This is an area that needs public health services. The ability to reinforce the city’s commitment to public health, plus the wraparound services, is really instrumental to my neighborhood,” Tunney said. He plans to use some of his menu money to upgrade the building’s facade.

Just one person testified on the third clinic up for committee approval: Marc Loveless, an LGBT civil rights and social justice organizer. He said Howard Brown, which would lease space at the  Englewood Neighborhood Health Clinic, is a North Side organization with a multi-million dollar budget. He said the city should have reached out to smaller grassroots organizations made up of constituencies still greatly impacted by HIV in the city: gay black men. “There is no agency that is led by African American LGBT men on the South or West Side. All of them have been cannibalized and re-contracted out by the major North Side organizations.” Ald. Burnett suggested Loveless not “player hate” against Howard Brown, and suggested Loveless speak with the chairs of the Black and Latino caucuses about his issues.

Ald. George Cardenas (12) questioned what he described as an “unusual” item, the $810,000 sale of a city-owned plot in the Kinzie PMD in the 27th Ward. The buyer, Peppercorn Capital LLC, offered $400,000 above the appraised value of the site. “Anything else we’re missing here?”  

Mary Benone, a representative with the Department of Planning and Development, responded, “This is good industrial property in the Kinzie industrial PMD,” which she described as a hot market, and the city decided to go with the highest bid. The administration submitted a substitute ordinance withholding the closing of sale, putting the money in escrow “until the grantee is ready to commence construction,” DPD’s Efrain Hernandez Diaz said.   

“We’re encouraging them to move with all deliberate speed to get the deal done,” Chairman Moore said.