Proposed ordinance tries to preserve affordable housing

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Tired of watching the city’s scarce supply of single room occupancy buildings and residential hotels dwindle away, somebody is finally stepping up to do something about it.

A coalition led by the community group ONE Northside has developed a proposed ordinance to encourage building owners to preserve the properties as affordable housing instead of converting them into more upscale apartments — which has been the trend.

The ordinance could be introduced as early as this week’s City Council meeting, although that may be delayed by late-breaking negotiations with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, which has shown interest in joining the effort.

At least 2,285 units of SRO housing in the city have been lost since 2011, says Mary Tarullo, an organizer with ONE Northside.

Gone are the Abbott, Ambers, Belair, Chateau, Julian, New Jackson, Rosemoor and Sheffield House, to name a few.

Their one-room units had been a refuge for the city’s working poor, disabled and elderly, particularly on the North Side, and their disappearance has left former residents with few options standing between them and the homeless shelters.

Indeed, many of those residents have moved from one doomed building to the next, rarely more than a half-step ahead of developers who have found a profitable niche in sprucing up the properties and doubling the rents.

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