Winnetka Residents Spar Over Affordable Housing

WINNETKA, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — Residents of the wealthy North Shore suburb of Winnetka are debating a plan by the village to introduce affordable housing into the community.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, it appears that the plan, if it ever goes ahead, will not come easily.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports

The Chicago Tribune reports the plan calls for preserving what little rental housing there is in the town, and reverting some downtown space now used as offices back to rental apartments.

The plan would also require developers to set aside affordable units. Owner-occupied units would have to be affordable to households earning $75,000 or more, and make rentals units affordable for those who make $45,000 or more, the Tribune reported.

The median income in Winnetka is more than $200,000, and the median home price ios over $1 million, the newspaper reported.

But the plan is being deemed “un-American” by the Winnetka Homeowners Association, which claims it would lower property values, draw crime, and subsidize those who are dependent on “handouts,” the Tribune reported.

The newspaper quoted Homeowners Association chairman Carry Buck as saying there are plenty of affordable housing options in other communities in the area, and she characterized the affordable housing plan as a government overreach in a community she called mostly conservative.

Six years ago, Winnetka residents voted for home rule, to avoid compliance with state-mandated affordable housing rules.

But the village also issued a report saying an affordable housing plan for young families and senior citizens was deemed mandated based on village documents going back to 1979, according to a 2005 report.

The report said Winnetka “has always had a supply of diverse housing,” and that coach houses and apartments above downtown storefronts have been among the options. reported that in 2007, a study showed that Winnetka has been losing 30 rental units each year, and million-dollar “McMansions” have taken their place.

Many local employees, such as public school teachers, have been left unable to afford to live in Winnetka , reported in a story last September.

  • Liz

    There goes the neighborhood!

    • NWA

      Yeah I know, Obama did it right! Furthermore, why do they need affordable housing in Winnetka republicans aren’t poor nor are they African-American?


      • Tommy

        NWA fool… everyone but liberals admit that the entire North Shore, from the edge of Evanston all the way to Waukegan, are absolutely nothing but extremely wealthy liberal democrats. If you want to live with Republicans you need to head to DuPage county, where the City of Chicago have already dumped millions of black and Hispanic low income citizens from Chicago ghettos in to Aurora, Woodridge, Downers Grove and Naperville. I know. I lived in DuPage when they dumped them there and the crime rates went up. This is how Daley and Weiss dropped the level of crime in Chicago, they exported it to the suburbs. Once these people are dumped in to the suburbs they do NOT integrate well because they in no way are able to mingle, integrate or marry in to the rest of the population. The wealth in many if not most of the North Shore suburbs is nothing like that seen in the rest of Illinois, the wealth is vast inherited wealth that is several generations deep, like the Kennedy’s who were also liberal pigs that everyone likes to forget were extremely wealthy.

        Here is the voter break down for Winnetka:

        Voting Winnetka, IL United States
        Democrat 76.210% 52.870%
        Republican 22.820% 45.620%

  • southside

    Government gone berserk. Chicago just tore down the last of their 1960’s program for affordable housing (Cabrini-Green). Government needs to stay out of social engineering….aka socialism

    • KE

      I agree

  • northsuburban

    $75,000 for an owner occupied residence or $45,000 for an apartment HARDLY compares to Cabrini Green. Please.

    Yeah you know those new, single suburban teachers… making 45-50k a year… they’re nothing but trouble. They’ll bring crime and drugs for sure.

    • southside

      When I graduated from college way back when, I couldn’t afford to live in Winnetka. I couldn’t find Winnetka on a map, nor have I ever been there. I could afford to live in a middle class area. I COULD afford to live somewhere else than Cabrini Green. I DID NOT RELY ON THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE SOME HOUSING AVAILABLE FOR ME IN AN AREA I COULD NOT AFFORD TO LIVE. If I was making $45,000 or $75,000, I would be smart enough to pick an area other than Winnetka. I don’t need some socialist to open the damn door for me to go to a place I can’t afford.

      • Andy

        It isn’t socialist. It’s not a program, and it’s not getting funded with tax dollars. It isn’t section 8, and it isn’t subsidized. Maybe you should do a little reading before you mouth off.

  • john

    A town soon to be a nest of Democrats.

  • Not conservative or liberal

    Blacks and Hispanics are not the only “low income” people out there. I hardly consider a single person making 45k a year “low income.” If they are employed as for example, a teacher, they wont make 45k a year forever. They are not poor, its called working class. I personally dont believe that placing low income housing in Winnetka helps anyone, the rich or the poor. I believe that if you want a better life for your family, you should work yo give that to them. But I also believe that some people need help and we should give it to them. We spend billions and billions in humanitarian aid to people in other countries, providing food and medicine but when we give food stamps and medicaid to our own people, we ridicule our fellow Americans. Its really sad because many of the people in these foreign countries (especially MidEast) HATE Americans and America. They just use us!. It is also sad how this becomes a race and/or class issue whenever these issues are brought up. We have come so far as a country on the issues of race relations but have done nothing to change the the hearts and minds of the people who spew hate. Its just manifests generation after generation. We dont like to be accused of being racist and hate when Blacks and Hispanics “play the race card.” But we use race and class to keep people out. America….the beautiful!

  • KE

    Sometime I think that people forget that many of the people in Winnetka have also worked all their lives — missing out on a lot family functions and events when they were enrolled in college, grad school, getting their Phd’s and building their careers– with big time loans that they still have not even paid off after 20+ years.

    And take a look at the average COOK COUNTYreal estate tax bills for even a handful of properties in Winnetka and you will see that a few houses alone in Winnetka (with no children) pay the same combined amount of tax dollars to Cook County as an entire WARD on Chicagos South Side.

  • Gee-reg

    Remember—–Section 8 ain’t that great These are probably the same people who want to see the government pay for housing in Chicago but not in their town.

  • Ben Matlock

    Arlington Heights had the same battles in the 1970s and 80ss. The project was called Lincoln Green and then Linden Place. It was on property donated by the Jesuits. The Supreme Court case is Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation.

  • Dana

    Is this about “I don’t want to work for a living Section 8 housing” or something totally different?

  • Stacey

    Let’s get the facts straight:

    1. Winnetka gave itself a mandate to create/maintain affordable housing. The city is trying to follow-through.
    2. The housing is NOT paid for by the tax payer. It is paid for by the person buying/renting it from the developer.
    3. The reason it is affordable is b/c it is higher density, not b/c it is subsidized.
    4. The city has been LOSING affordable housing up to this point. They are simply trying to STOP losing ground as Winnetka becomes more and more a home to the mega wealthy.
    5. The housing is for PROFESSIONALS – people making 45K(renters) to 75k(owners)
    6. Some of these people are seniors who can’t afford to stay in Winnetka, their home.
    7. Some of the people are young families who want good schools/opportunities for their children
    8. Our country is founded on middle class values and civic virtue.
    9. If Winnetka can’t share their village with a few middle class people and support the hard work and effort of the people trying to create this housing, and if other people think that is just fine and dandy, that is a pretty sad thing for our country.
    10. It is ridiculous to call this communism or socialism. This is a middle class country, but if you want to give all the power and resources to the multi-millionaires and billionaires out there, you’re not thinking about your own children’s future.

  • Stacey

    You can find Winnetka’s own 5-year study on the matter at this site.

  • Dale

    I’m a criminal. I think I’ll buy a 500,000 dollar house in Winnetka and sell drugs to soccer moms.

  • Debate On Affordable Housing To Begin In Winnetka « CBS Chicago

    […] Opponents of the plan say it lacks specifics, and thus, there is nothing really to decide. They also say there is no reason why someone who works in the community must live there. […]

  • Winnetka Affordable Housing Plan Draws Cheers, Jeers « CBS Chicago

    […] Opponents also say there is no reason why someone who works in the community must live there. […]

  • Unbias

    I agree with Stacey totally. She’s absolutly right. Everyone needs to do their home work before they start screaming like their morally bankrupt. I have even argued with those on sec. 8 because they think it’s for them!! Affordable does not mean LOW INCOME. And just to think, winnetkia dosnt want progressive hard working Americans there, could you imagine if section 8 was being considered??? Oh yea, WE are THEIR vision of section 8. sad,sad,sad.

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