Can affordable housing be a part of our future?: A Forum


A forum hosted by Northcenter Neighborhood Association's Zoning and Compassion in Action Committees. April 24 at the Sulzer Library

Please find here bios and important links from our event.


Moderator:  Lynette McRae, Metropolitan Planning Council


Alderman Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward

Janet Smith, Professor of Urban Planning and Policy, UIC/

Co-Director, Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement

Juan Carlos Linares, Executive Director, Latin United Community Housing Association

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Lynette McRae is a collaborative leader with 10+ years of community development and project management experience. Since March of 2017 she has been a manger at the Metropolitan Planning Council,  bringing together government , community and civid leaders to address community priorities, including outreach, strategy, and policy for housing and community development efforts.  Prior, she spent 9 years working for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development  as a community liaison for the Sacramento Promise Zone, management analyst in the Office of Economic Resilience and Rockford Team lead for the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities. She was named Next City’s 2015 40 Under 40 Vanguards, is a cofounder of Young Ladies on the Rise, and mentor for Girls Going Global. Lynette holds a BA in economics, with a minor in legal studies from Washington University, and a MA in Social work and a Real Estate Development Graduate Certificate from the University of Michigan.

Ameya Pawar currently serves as Alderman of the 47th Ward on the north side of Chicago. The son of Indian immigrants, Pawar was born and raised in Illinois. He became the first Indian-American and Asian-American elected to the Chicago City Council in 2011 after he beat the Chicago machine with a grassroots campaign that shocked the establishment. He won re-election in 2015 by the largest margin in the city.  As alderman, Ameya Pawar has championed legislation focused on working people. His initiatives have prevented wage theft, created affordable housing, and granted paid sick leave to hardworking residents. He also took the lead in creating an independent budget office to bring more oversight to city spending. Pawar is a passionate defender of neighborhood schools, and has advanced community investments worth over $300 million in support of public education, parks, libraries, public transportation, retail shops, bike stations and more.


Juan Carlos Linares is the Executive Director of LUCHA, a Chicago-based affordable housing development agency which offers housing counseling, foreclosure prevention and legal assistance to over 8,000 clients annually in the Midwest.  LUCHA is currently building the first multi-family “Passive House” in Illinois to go along with what will be nearly 200 affordable housing units in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, Logan Square and West Town neighborhoods.  Juan Carlos currently serves as Chair of the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has a mayoral appointment to the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund Board, and serves on the Boards of Urban Theater Company and The Woodstock Institute.  He serves on Northeastern Illinois University's El Centro campus Advisory Council, where he teaches Political Science, and is also on Adjunct Faculty at The John Marshall Law School.   Juan Carlos holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a JD from DePaul University and an LL.M. in International Business Law from The John Marshall Law School.  His BA in Sociology and Spanish is from the University of Illinois. Juan Carlos was raised in an immigrant household by his Peruvian mother and Guatemalan father in the Cook County suburb of Bellwood, Illinois.  As human rights attorneys, Juan Carlos and his wife Monica have visited social justice institutions in 36 countries, and along with their two children reside on Chicago’s south side.

Janet Smith

For the past 30 years, Dr Smith’s teaching, research and community service has broadly focused on community development and local housing planning and policy implementation, with an emphasis on community driven strategies to produce and preserve affordable housing. Research completed has focused on housing centered projects that make linkages to disability, aging, transportation, employment, the environment and public health. Dr. Smith has worked with people with disabilities, public housing residents, local and state government, low-income communities of color, the aging community, immigrants and homeless people and higher income municipalities seeking to diversify their community. She has worked with many organizations and research teams to develop indicators on community needs and collaborated to use data and mapping to help people make informed decisions and develop responsive solutions to community problems. Published work includes Where are Poor People to Live? Transforming Public Housing Communities (M.E. Sharpe, 2006) co-edited and written with Larry Bennett and Patricia Wright, and Claiming Neighborhoods (University of Illinois Press, 2016) with John Betancur, which looks at neighborhood change in relation to capital accumulation and creative destruction.

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