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Winnetka Affordable Housing Plan Rejected by Village Council

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The Winnetka Village Council rejected a plan to increase affordable housing in the affluent North Shore community by a vote of 4-3 Tuesday.

The suburban Chicago village had been looking into the idea of expanding the amount of affordable housing available since 2005, but trustees who voted down the measure pointed to the results of a Winnetka Caucus survey which found 67 percent of village residents opposed more affordable housing near them, according to TribLocal.

"Shouldn't the trustees represent the majority of the people? Isn't there an obligation?" Carry Buck, president of the Winnetka Home Owners Association, asked the council, according to the Tribune.

The plan, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, would have instituted affordability standards, local preference standards and an inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring that 15 percent of units in new multi-family developments be affordable.

Other opponents previously criticized the affordable housing set-asides as "handouts" that would attract crime to the area as well as lower property values, CBS Chicago reported earlier this year.

The vote reportedly was preceded by several hours of debate and public comments, Winnetka Patch reports.

Christopher Wintz, a village trustee who was among the minority opposing the resolution, criticized the council as "stick[ing] our head in the sand and hop[ing] it goes away" when it came to controversial issues like increasing affordable housing in the community, according to the Sun-Times.

The council's decision arrives on the heels of a report released last month by the DePaul University Institute for Housing Studies finding that while demand for affordable housing throughout Cook County has increased in recent years, the amount available has actually decreased. Further, rental prices across the county have increased over five years ago, most heavily impacting lower-income renters.

According to the report [PDF], more than three-quarters of households making less than $35,000 annually pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

The median income of Winnetka residents as of 2009, according to City-Data.com, is $196,547, nearly quadruple that of the median household income of Cook County as a whole which, as of 2010 U.S. Census Data, was $52,516.

Photo by Zol87 via Flickr.

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