Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing Rallies for Equal Access Across Chicago

DRACH outside the Council Chambers laying out platform for Equal Access Across Chicago
On Wednesday, November 5, the Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing (DRACH) turned out in force at City Hall to publicly launch our platform for housing accessibility, affordability, and integration – Equal Access Across Chicago. Equal Access Across Chicago is a set of recommendations from DRACH to make access to affordable, integrated housing a reality for all Chicagoans with disabilities.

We believe that it is possible to create a Chicago where all people, regardless of disability status, can live healthy, full lives in the community. Equal Access Across Chicago is DRACH’s plan address the often invisible housing crisis faced by people with disabilities throughout the city of Chicago.

DRACH members, allies, including Aldermen Scott Waguespack, John Arena, and Bob Fioretti, met on LaSalle Street early Wednesday morning to make our voice heard. Adam Ballard, Advocacy coordinator with Access Living, the organization that hosts DRACH, briefly outlined the Equal Access Across Chicago plan to increase accessible, affordable, and integrated housing.

DRACH member Cecelia Black then gave more details on why the changes outlined in Equal Access Across Chicago are important for people with disabilities.

Following Cecelia, Alderman Scott Waguespack expressed his support for the campaign and thanked the group for coming out to hold the city accountable for creating affordable, accessible, and integrated housing for all. The last speaker on LaSalle St was DRACH leader Shay Jones, who outlined DRACH’s recommendations for reforming the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), which would be a first step towards achieving Equal Access Across Chicago. These recommendations are:

• The ARO fee-in-lieu is changed to $250,000 in “D” zoning districts, $200,000 in high/medium income areas, $100,000 in medium income areas, and $50,000 in lowest income areas;

• The ARO affordable unit set aside requirement is raised to 20% in general, 25% in transit corridors, and 30% in TIF developments;

• The percentage of ARO units that are required to be accessible for people with mobility and sensory impairments are set at 10% and 4%, respectively;

• 10% of all money collected through ARO opt-out fees is used for a city wide home modification and relocation cost fund for low income people with disabilities and seniors; and

• There is accountability and clarity on how funds raised through the fee-in-lieu are spent.

After a half hour of speeches and chants on LaSalle St, the group moved upstairs to the 2nd floor of City Hall, just outside the council chambers. Once inside, DRACH held a news conference to officially unveil Equal Access Across Chicago, reiterate the need for affordable, accessible, and integrated housing, and lay out our recommendations for reforming the Affordable Requirements Ordinance. The event ended with cries of “Affordable, Accessible, Integrated housing,” resonating throughout City Hall.

DRACH would like to thank all of the amazing leaders who spoke and supported Wednesday’s event, especially Adam Ballard, Lance Johnson, Cecelia Black, Shay Jones, Damika Bennett, Alderman Waguespack, Alderman Arena, and Alderman Fioretti. We would also like to thank all representatives of the media that turned out to cover this very important issue. We will continue the fight for increasing accessibility, affordability, and integration through reforming the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance in the upcoming months.

Coverage of the rally from WBBM Radio and from Chicago Talks .