Sunday, December 25, 2016

Civil Rights Feds Tag Chicago Suburb With Fair Housing Suit, Accusing Village Officials Of Capitulating To Community Residents' Alleged Race-Based Opposition To Developer's Plan To Build Proposed 47-Unit Low Income Housing Complex

In Tinley Park, Ohio, Crain's Chicago Business reports:
  • Tinley Park officials stalled approvals of a proposed low-income housing development in the wake of local residents' race-based criticism of the plan, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

    The suit, filed on Nov. 23, charges village officials violated the Fair Housing Act by effectively mothballing a developer's plan to build a 47-unit, three-story apartment building called the Reserve. The units would be rented to people making less than 60 percent of the area's median income—primarily "low, very low, or extremely low income households," according to the Justice Department suit.

    The developer would finance the below-market rents using the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

    The architecture and other details of the proposal conformed with all requirements laid out in the village's master plan, which meant, according to that same master plan, that it should speed through the approval process, the Justice Department claims.

    After Tinley Park residents voiced objections at village meetings and in Facebook groups last winter, the project was referred back to the suburb's planning department in February. In the nine months since, "the planning department has not requested additional information about the Reserve" from the developer, Buckeye Community SixtyNine, according to the suit. The developer is affiliated with Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, based in Columbus, Ohio.

    The stalled approval process indicates village officials "capitulated" to community residents' race-based opposition to the project, the Justice Department charges. Regional demographics suggest blacks would be three times as likely to qualify for the rentals than white households, the suit says.
    Tinley Park's population is 88.8 percent white, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, and 3.7 percent black.
    Despite the fact that the project's being in "precise conformance" meant it should be allowed to move ahead, Tinley Park's Plan Commission sent the proposal back to the planning department staff for further review, the suit says.

    The proposal has been left on hold since that time, the suit charges. "Tinley Park's actions were taken in response to community opposition based on the race and racial stereotypes of the prospective tenants of affordable housing," the Justice Department charges.

    Separately, Buckeye, the developer, sued Tinley Park in April over the delays in approval. That case is still pending.

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