September Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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September Media Tips

New Study: Affordable Homes Near Jobs, Transit Key to Slowing Climate Change

A new national study offers conclusive evidence that reducing metropolitan Chicago’s energy consumption relies on meeting the growing demand for affordable homes near jobs and transportation options. Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change (available at Smart Growth America's Web site ) shows that in the Chicago region between 1980 and 2005, population increased by about 6 percent, while the annual miles traveled per driver grew at nearly six times the rate of population growth, or an alarming 34 percent.

The report recommends that one of the best ways to reduce vehicle travel is to create places where people can accomplish more with less driving. Market research shows a majority of future homebuyers will want to purchase smaller homes in neighborhoods where jobs, activities, and multiple transportation options are close by. The potential for change is profound, since two-thirds of development expected to be on the ground in 2050 is not yet built.

“Many developers in the Chicago region want to meet this demand, but they need local, regional and state agencies to align regulations and resources to support this type of attractive development,” said Michael Davidson, manager, Campaign for Sensible Growth .

To learn more about what this report means for metropolitan Chicago – and about legislation recently passed in Illinois to support compact, walkable communities – contact Davidson at 312-863-6009 or mdavidson@growingsensibly.org.

Chicago-Area Companies Helping Their Employees Avoid Foreclosure

When a person loses his home to foreclosure, finding a new place to live is the first thing on a list of worries. He may be forced to find a new job, commute a greater distance, or take time off work due to emotional stress. Just as individuals and the economy are feeling the ripple effects of the nationwide spike in foreclosures, employers are enduring consequences as well, including turnover costs, and employee tardiness and absenteeism.

MPC is partnering with public and private sector leaders on a hands-on solution to stem the tide of foreclosures in our region: employer-assisted housing (EAH). Through REACH (Regional Employer-Assisted Collaboration for Housing) Illinois, employers are helping their employees purchase homes they can afford by providing downpayment assistance and free homeownership counseling. The program – offered by companies and institutions as diverse as Charter One Bank, Allstate, Loyola University, and the Village of South Holland – requires participants to take an eight-hour homebuyer course, which includes lessons on property laws, credit reporting, mortgage lending, and an overall explanation of basic homeownership dos and don’ts. The counseling is “a great help” to first-time buyers who may not have experience with lending and finance, according to MPC Housing Director Robin Snyderman.

For information about EAH programs in your coverage area, visit www.reachillinois.org, or contact Snyderman, at 312.863.6007 or rsnyderman@metroplanning.org.

Transit’s Role in Mixed-Income Communities Highlighted in Recent MPC Update

Many of Chicago’s most well-established, and racially and economically diverse communities (including Rogers Park, Logan Square, and Hyde Park ) have a strong network of train stations and bus stops located near homes, shops, restaurants, and parks. Amenities like these often develop because – not in spite – of their proximity to a transportation hub. MPC’s latest Update on the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Plan for Transformation suggests that the new mixed-income communities created by the Plan can take a cue from these well-established communities and plan ahead to coordinate a wide range of public transportation options with nearby commercial and retail development.

The Update introduces Reconnecting Neighborhoods, a community planning initiative to explore transportation conditions in three new mixed-income communities – ParkSide of Old Town (formerly Cabrini-Green), WestHaven (formerly Henry Horner Homes), and Oakwood Shores (formerly the Madden/Wells/Darrows site). The visioning process will be led by local stakeholders in partnership with the City of Chicago, Regional Transportation Authority, HNTB, CHA, and MPC. The Update also compares transit service offered in different Chicago neighborhoods.

To read the update, visit MPC’s Web site. For more information, contact MPC Housing Director Robin Snyderman, at 312.863.6007 or rsnyderman@metroplanning.org.

Meet the MPC Staff
DeLaurentiis Helps Local Leaders Turn Sound Policy into On-the-Ground Results

Kristi DeLaurentiis , MPC manager of local government and community relations, is truly a Jill of all trades. Since 2000, when she joined the Council as south suburban coordinator, DeLaurentiis has worked with local elected and appointed officials, planners and business leaders on a myriad of issues, ranging from transit connections to affordable housing, commercial development to sustainable growth. DeLaurentiis’ role takes her across Chicagoland as she meets with local leaders to help translate MPC policy goals into on-the-ground results.

“MPC’s mission to create livable communities and strengthen the economic competitiveness of the entire region is something I believe in,” said DeLaurentiis. “Working with others ‘in the trenches’ has shown me how valuable our technical assistance efforts and strategies are at the local level, and how important it is to forge partnerships to address our regional challenges.”

Once a cancer researcher, the Homewood native earned her master’s degree in environmental biology from Governors State University . She lives in south suburban Frankfort, Ill., with her husband, and has two college-age daughters. In her “free” time, DeLaurentiis serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Governors State University, Illinois Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee, and as a volunteer member of the Illinois Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society. She also contributes op-eds on a regular basis to Star newspapers and Joliet Herald News .

Contact DeLaurentiis at 815-325-1220 or kdelaurentiis@metroplanning.org.

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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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