By signing into law Good Housing Good Schools (formerly
SB 220, now Public Act 95-0330), Gov.
Rod Blagojevich stepped up the state’s commitment to providing housing affordable
to the local workforce, in high job growth areas, as well as to preserving the
stock of affordable housing currently at risk. But what makes this legislation most
significant, if funded, is its ability to provide real incentives to municipalities
advancing those goals.
Yes, the state’s Comprehensive Housing and Planning
Act movedIllinois closer to a sensible way of
encouraging local responses to the profound shortage of affordable housing. And yes, this legislation -- especially through
the Illinois Housing Development Authority -- continues to seed
numerous initiatives beginning to address the profound demand for supportive housing,
senior housing, preservation, and other key priorities.
But several key principles of the Comprehensive Housing and Planning Act
are still unfulfilled – most notably
its focus on incentives for local leaders, especially those outside the housing
arena. ("Can 'Live Near Work' work better?" describes the state’s need to
step up its overall “live near work” strategy
Good Housing, Good Schools can
provide financial incentives to the school districts in towns supporting the
rehab or development of quality, affordable, multifamily homes. For example, a
school district in a community that approves a 45-unit two or three-bedroom
condominium or apartment building could receive over $60,000 – enough to pay for
an extra teacher.
many young families in Illinois are struggling to achieve the most
basic of dreams: finding an attractive neighborhood with both housing they can
afford and schools they can trust. Good Housing, Good Schools will help ensure
more communities in Illinois fit this bill and advance the goals
of the state’s Comprehensive Housing and Planning Act.
With the bill
signed into law, the next step is to get this legislation funded, optimally
through the Illinois State Board of Education. Given that teachers themselves stand to
gain from this legislation -- as demonstrated by popularity of the Chicago
Public Schools employer-assisted housing program
– and that mixed-income housing
itself benefits schools, ISBE clearly has more to gain than to lose from this
modest investment in this potentially major implications.
Why major? Since a similar piece of legislation was put into effect in
Massachussetts last January, over 1,500 homes were approved in "high job districts," which are
comparable to Illinois "live near work" communities. Similar approval rates would
be profound in Illinois, where this legislation can also benefit redeveloping communities in addition to those
near job centers.