Biss, Kennedy Spar Over Affordable Housing in Chicago

A Democratic candidate for Illinois governor accused another on Tuesday of not playing by the rules when it comes to affordable housing.

State Sen. Daniel Biss said one of his opponents, Chris Kennedy, is pushing people out of their neighborhood with the Wolf Point development on Chicago's Near North Side.

One luxury high-rise is already up and another is on its way in the Wolf Point development, owned by the Kennedy family, along with three others.

But Biss claimed Tuesday that Kennedy should have considered how to provide affordable housing in the building - an issue that may have never surfaced had Kennedy not first criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel of a similar offense.

"When Chris Kennedy skirts the rules by using his connections to powerful attorneys to avoid affordable housing requirements, that doesn't just make him richer, that pushes people out of a neighborhood and makes working families struggle more," Biss said Tuesday.

However, Kennedy fired back and claimed Biss is misinformed.

"There was no law broken, there was no law skirted, there was no payoff," Kennedy said, arguing that the land was zoned back in 1973, and therefore the city rules on affordable housing do not apply.

"Anybody who's saying that is using it for political purposes," he added.

But 26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado, a Biss supporter, pointed out that Kennedy was the first to raise this issue when he accused Emanuel of having a "strategic gentrification plan" to make Chicago "whiter."

"If he fights the mayor because he thinks that the mayor intentionally is gentrifying the city of Chicago, well you know, that is unacceptable that he is also being a participant of that," Maldonado said.

Kennedy insisted he did not hire a zoning lawyer to avoid the city's affordable housing requirements, or pay a fee to skirt the rules, and instead pointed to the tax dollars Wolf Point brings the city.

"Wolf Point's going to generate tens of millions of tax revenue for the city, tens of millions of dollars that the city didn't have before," he said.

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