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Debate On Affordable Housing To Begin In Winnetka

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WINNETKA, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – The village president of north suburban Winnetka is calling for a calm, thoughtful debate on the hot-button issue of affordable housing.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports, median home prices in Winnetka exceed $1 million, which means few workers can live where they work.

Winnetka Village President Jessica Tucker would vote only in a case of a tie on the idea, which would increase affordable housing for families making less than $150,000 a year.

She says he likes the general idea of affordable housing for Winnetka

“As far as specific details, we have yet to see the actual details of the plan that’s been put forth; how would it be implemented,” Tucker said. “A concern that’s out there in the community and that I have is, is this going to cost taxpayers more money, and if it does, how much, and will the community support that.”

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.

In a Chicago Tribune report late last month, the plan was deemed “un-American” by the Winnetka Homeowners Association, which claimed it would lower property values, draw crime, and subsidize those who are dependent on “handouts.”

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.

When the debate begins, Tucker said, “I hope that people put aside partisan politics, put aside personal emotions, put aside rhetoric when they walk through the village chamber doors, and they’ll have an educated, intelligent, informed discussion.

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.

Tucker says this evening’s meeting is strictly for information and debate. The village council takes up the affordable housing issue later this year.

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