Governor Signs Legislation to Improve Housing Options; Metropolitan Planning Council Commends Governor for 'Real Progress' - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Governor Signs Legislation to Improve Housing Options; Metropolitan Planning Council Commends Governor for 'Real Progress'

Seniors, people with disabilities, and working families will benefit most from the legislation, which aims to increase the availability of affordable and workforce housing near jobs and transportation

(Chicago) Gov. Rod Blagojevich today signed two key pieces of housing legislation that will boost the creation of quality, affordable homes near jobs and transportation, making meaningful progress toward accomplishing a fundamental and critical objective of Illinois’ comprehensive housing plan, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a longtime housing advocate.

MPC strongly supports both the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act and the Business Location Efficiency Incentive Act (also known as “Location Matters”) and commends the governor for enacting the legislation, which will continue the state’s momentum to provide a range of housing options to meet the needs of all Illinois residents. In the Chicago region, a family would need to earn more than $74,000 per year to afford the average home, which in 2005 sold for $234,000. Renters face similar obstacles: a family would need to earn at least $32,095 annually or $15.43 hourly to afford the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment, which cost $802 in 2005, pricing out many low-wage and minimum-wage workers.

“Across Illinois, working families, seniors on fixed incomes, people with disabilities, and many others are struggling to find homes they can afford in desirable communities,” said MarySue Barrett, MPC president. “By enacting this legislation, Gov. Blagojevich is answering the call from business, municipal and community leaders for tools and policies that support affordable and workforce housing. These policies signal real progress to promote vibrant communities across Illinois by helping families afford homes near jobs and transportation.”

MPC also commends Ill. Sens. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), and Ill. Reps. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) and Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills), whose strong leadership helped secure passage of the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act and the Business Location Efficiency Incentive Act.

The Comprehensive Housing Planning Act transforms Illinois’ first housing policy – created in 2003 by executive order of Gov. Blagojevich – into a law requiring yearly assessment of the state’s progress toward preserving and creating more affordable, workforce housing. The legislation also requires the state to link spending in key areas such as economic development, transportation, and human services, which will translate into more homes being built in “opportunity areas” – near jobs and transportation. Under the new law, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) must submit an annual progress report to the governor and the General Assembly to evaluate the progress made toward achieving the projected goals of the housing plan.

“Plans can only be truly effective when there is a mechanism in place to evaluate the achievements,” explained IHDA Executive Director Kelly King Dibble. “The progress report will ensure that government remains accountable, and that work is being done in the areas that are needed.”

“Location Matters” is just one example of how the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act will increase the availability of quality, affordable homes near jobs, in this case by offering incentives for employers who invest in housing options for the local workforce. Indeed, these incentives truly pay off, reducing commute times, traffic congestion, and air pollution; helping business build a stable workforce; and allowing people to spend more time with their families and in their communities.

“Many communities in Illinois are working to provide more housing opportunities for residents, but local leaders say they need help connecting the dots between their local housing initiatives and the wide array of state resources available to support community development, including infrastructure investments, transit, economic development, and financial resources. These two pieces of legislation will make it easier for communities to make those connections,” said Joanna Trotter, MPC housing associate, whose daily work is helping local communities expand their housing options.

For background on the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act and Business Location Efficiency Incentive Act, visit MPC's Web site or www.reachillinois.org.

For comment from the Metropolitan Planning Council, please contact Mandy Burrell, communications associate, at 312-863-6018 (office), 773-640-1206 (cell), or mburrell@metroplanning.org; Joanna Trotter, housing associate, at 312-863-6008 or jtrotter@metroplanning.org; or Robin Snyderman, housing director, at 847-420-3261 (cell).

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