What are Chicago’s Affordable Housing Regulations

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Chicago, like many metropolitan areas, faces challenges in ensuring affordable housing for its residents. With a diverse population and a thriving economy, the city strives to strike a balance between growth and equitable housing opportunities. To address this issue, Chicago has implemented various affordable housing regulations aimed at increasing access to affordable homes for its residents. 

In this article, we’ll look into the key affordable housing regulations in Chicago, highlighting their impact and significance.

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Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO): 

At the forefront of Chicago’s affordable housing regulations is the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). Enacted in 2007 and revised in 2015, the ARO:

  • Mandates that developers allocate a certain percentage of units in residential projects for affordable housing or pay into a city fund.
  • Applies to developments receiving zoning changes, city financial assistance, or city-owned land.
  • Aims to increase the availability of affordable housing options across various neighborhoods in Chicago.
  • Percentage of affordable units required varies based on the size and location of the development.
  • Provides flexibility for developers to either designate affordable units or contribute financially to affordable housing initiatives.
  • Implemented to promote economic diversity, inclusion, and equitable access to housing opportunities within the city.

Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance (AHPO): 

In addition to incentivizing the creation of new affordable housing, Chicago also places emphasis on preserving existing affordable units. The Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance (AHPO), enacted in 2017, aims to: 

  • Protect tenants living in buildings at risk of losing affordability due to renovations, conversions, or demolitions.
  • Requires property owners to provide notice to tenants and the city before making changes that could result in the loss of affordable units.
  • Establish a process for reviewing proposed developments that could potentially impact affordable housing.
  • Developers seeking zoning changes or financial assistance for projects involving affordable housing units must adhere to specific requirements outlined in the ordinance.
  • Mandates developers to provide relocation assistance for displaced tenants and replace affordable units lost due to redevelopment.
  • Aimed at preserving existing affordable housing stock and preventing displacement of low-income residents in Chicago.

Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund: 

Complementing the ARO and AHPO is the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, which serves as a crucial funding mechanism for affordable housing initiatives. Established in 1989, to address the city’s housing needs, particularly for low-income residents. The trust fund:

  • Provides funding and financial incentives for the development and preservation of affordable housing in Chicago.
  • Administers grants, loans, and other forms of financial assistance to nonprofit organizations, developers, and community groups.
  • Supports projects that expand affordable housing options, foster community development, and combat homelessness.
  • Leverages public and private investments to maximize impact and address housing challenges throughout the city.
  • Offers flexible financing options and technical assistance to empower stakeholders in undertaking affordable housing initiatives.
  • Plays a crucial role in promoting equitable access to safe, affordable housing for all residents of Chicago.


Chicago’s affordable housing regulations represent a multifaceted approach to addressing the city’s housing challenges. Through initiatives like the Affordable Requirements Ordinance, Affordable Housing Preservation Ordinance, and Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, the city strives to promote equitable housing opportunities for all residents. By incentivizing the creation and preservation of affordable units, Chicago aims to foster vibrant, inclusive communities where individuals and families can thrive. As the city continues to evolve, its commitment to affordable housing remains paramount, ensuring that Chicago remains a place where everyone has access to safe, affordable homes.

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