WEST ROGERS PARK — Ald. Joe Moore (49th) sided with affordable-housing advocates when he announced his support for a zoning change that would allow the addition of two garden units in a six-flat apartment building on Bell Avenue.
Moore held a public meeting in May about the proposal to transform two unfinished, unused basement spaces in a building at 7255 N. Bell Ave. owned by Andy Ahitow — a founding partner of Chicago Apartment Finders.
The added density would require a slight change of zoning.
Despite the offer of below-market housing for at least 10 years, neighbors said they were worried about losing parking spaces.
Moore contends the low-income tenants who would occupy the units probably wouldn't be able to afford a car.
"Even if one or two of them happen to own a car, this negligible effect on parking is outweighed by the very real benefit of providing an affordable place to live to deserving individuals or families," Moore said in a statement.
A DePaul University study published this year found that 8,044 households — in an area defined as Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown — were without affordable housing as defined by the study.
The new units on Bell Avenue would be managed by Marty Cerny of Housing Plus, an organization that works all over the city to convert unused space in apartment buildings into affordable housing.
"It's really a win-win proposition all the way around," said Cerny, who is courting other aldermen and building owners to help provide the housing.
But he said he often meets resistance from neighborhood groups.
Sometimes, he says, the neighborhood resistance is more "bigotry" and "racism" than about concerns over density and zoning.
Cerny said the units would be available to people who have a special need and are making less than $35,000 a year. A possible tenant could be a veteran amputee and his family, he said.
"Nobody says no — except neighbors," he said. "We got to jump through hoops to get to do this."