Housing slump leads City Colleges to tweak residency rules

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Staff Writer
  • April 02, 2009 @ 12:12 PM

The Chicago region’s dismal housing market prompted the City Colleges’ board to tweak its rules on residency requirements today.

New employees who live in the suburbs or anywhere else outside of the city will have up to a year after they start working for the district to sell their home and move to the city of Chicago under the changed rules. Previously, new hires had six months to relocate.

“Given the current housing market that makes selling properties nearly impossible, we are requesting that we temporarily modify the permanent residency policy,” said Xiomara Cortes Metcalfe, the district’s human resources director.

The City Colleges requires employees to have their “true, permanent home” inside the city limits. Employees must sign a yearly oath that they live in the city as long as they work for the district. Other local government agencies across the state have similar residency rules.

But the change to the City Colleges’ rules wasn’t without some opposition from two board members who didn’t like the idea of making exceptions for new hires.

While board member Ralph Moore said he wouldn’t vote for the change on the grounds that the district should be considering applicants who already live in the city, he ended up voting in support of the change, which was approved unanimously.

“I think there’s enough people out of work, quality people, who live in the city of Chicago, who could come and fill these positions,” Moore said before voting.

But Metcalfe said the district is having problems finding nurses in the city who can teach nursing courses. Efforts to collaborate with the region’s hospitals have been unsuccessful at bringing more nurses to teach at the City Colleges, Chancellor Wayne Watson said.

Of the four current City Colleges employees seeking extensions to the amount of time they have to move into the city, Metcalfe said, three are nurses. At a recent recruiting event, the residency requirement was a big sticking point for many potential applicants.

“A number of candidates who came to us interested in working for City Colleges, as soon as we mentioned the residency policy, they walked away from the table, Metcalfe said.

That didn’t attract much sympathy from Moore, though.

“We have a pool of tremendous talent in the city of Chicago, and if someone chose to live somewhere else, that’s not my problem,” he said.

Board member Nancy Clawson urged that the district make a person’s current location a consideration while hiring.

“I would suggest that we not add to that pool by being very careful in hiring people that don’t meet the requirements,” Clawson said.

The extensions, to give new hires either nine or 12 months to move into the city, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and employees will have to prove they’re making concerted efforts to sell their homes elsewhere, Metcalfe said.


Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.