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HB 504: Live Near Work

Illinois General Assembly 2002

More and more employers around the country are beginning to recognize the benefit of helping their employees buy homes closer to their jobs. Live Near Work offers a remedy to the growing mismatch between jobs and housing both in terms of geography and affordability. With limited public resources available to address extensive statewide housing needs, this practical strategy assists private sector employers in devising housing solutions for their workers. The Live Near Work Act would expand a state matching pool to leverage private sector dollars toward homes for their workforce.

Live Near Work promotes a stable workforce and expands housing availability for average families. This proposal will foster innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors. It will assist lower-income households in attaining housing in job growth corridors, revitalize neighborhoods by attracting new investment, increase the range of quality housing options for people at all price points and reduce traffic congestion.

Purpose

Live Near Work initiatives will:

  • reduce employee turnover and hiring and training costs while increasing morale and loyalty;
  • support Illinois corporations by linking the workforce with homebuyer education, individualized homeownership and credit counseling, and mortgage assistance;
  • strengthen communities surrounding employment centers by reducing traffic congestion and increasing civic involvement;
  • create partnerships between employers and community-based housing organizations with expertise in the local housing market; and
  • foster a new constituency of housing supporters and investors.

Funding

The initiative requires the creation of a Live Near Work Fund with an initial $3 million state appropriation.

Models

The Metropolitan Planning Council currently is partnering with six Chicagoland employers and eight housing counseling organizations to implement model Live Near Work programs.  These employers — entities as diverse as Bank One, the Village of Riverdale, Mount Sinai Hospital and manufacturer System Sensor — are tapping a limited pool of matching funds provided by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.  These funds will quickly be exhausted and an ongoing commitment from the State of Illinois is needed to encourage broad private sector participation. 

Suitable housing is one of the major unmet needs of our workforce, especially here in the Chicago metropolitan area. A fair number of our employees cannot find suitable housing near our plant. Others rent in the area and would like to become homeowners .... Our affordable housing initiative is saving us money. But more importantly, it’s improving our employees’ lives.

–King Harris, former president of Pittway Corporation, parent company of System Sensor, which began an employer-assisted housing initiative in 2000 that helped 36 employees become homeowners closer to work and saved the company $200,000 in its first two years.

Supporters (in formation):

  • Affordable Housing Corporation of the North Shore
  • Business Leaders for Transportation
  • Business and Professional People for the Public Interest
  • CDIS, C. Dirkx Integrated Systems
  • Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations
  • Chicago Metropolis 2020
  • Claretian Associates, Inc.
  • Corporation of Affordable Homes of McHenry County
  • Cushman & Wakefield of Illinois, Inc.
  • Devcorp North
  • DuPage Homeownership Center
  • Eubanks & Associates, Inc.
  • Illinois Association of Realtors
  • Joseph Corporation
  • Lake County Affordable Housing Corporation
  • League of Illinois Bicyclists
  • McBride & Kelly Architects
  • MDR Demographic Applications, Inc.
  • Metro Counties of Illinois
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Neighborhood Housing Services
  • North West Housing Partnership
  • Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
  • Northwest Municipal Conference
  • Openlands Project
  • The Resurrection Project
  • South Suburban Housing Center
  • St. Louis 2004
  • St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association
  • State Agenda for Community Economic Development
  • Thompson Dyke & Associates
  • University of Chicago
  • Valerie S. Kretchmer Associates, Inc.
  • Walgreen Company
  • Work Welfare and Families
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