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Mount Prospect named Best Place in America to Raise Kids

The village of Mount Prospect, a quiet community located 22 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, has been found out.

Although the 56,000 current residents of Mount Prospect have already discovered the charms of their small municipality, the village gained national attention in November 2008, when BusinessWeek named Mount Prospect the “ Best Place in America to Raise Kids ”. Affordability was one factor considered in the quest to identify the optimal town. The quality of public education and safety in the community also topped the list of criteria.

There is little doubt the housing initiatives implemented and managed by Mayor Irvana Wilks and village staff have made a significant contribution to the health and affordability of Mount Prospect’s housing market. One such initiative is an employer - assisted housing (EAH) program for municipal workers. Launched in late 2008, the village has a budget to assist two eligible employees with down payment. The program also includes pre-purchase counseling and education through a local organization, Housing Opportunity Development Corporation. And, thanks to the village’s recognition as the best place to raise kids, employees now have added incentive to take advantage of their employer’s offer to help them with a home purchase!

The seed was planted for the employee program during a 2007 collaboration known as the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative, in which Mayor Wilks partnered with mayors of neighboring towns to engage employers in workforce housing solutions. Mount Prospect was not only a host of that event, but also became the first employer to launch an employee benefit, and to take advantage of Charter One Bank’s incentives for small businesses.

In addition to the new EAH program, to stimulate homeownership and improve the condition of existing properties, the village has a first-time homebuyer assistance program for income-eligible homebuyers, single-family rehabilitation loan, and property inspection program. In 2008, three homebuyers utilized the first-time buyer program, each receiving $10,000 in down payment assistance.

Mount Prospect, it looks like your hard work is paying off! With this recognition of your community’s strengths - even in this tough housing market - other communities and employers will learn from your innovative leadership.

For more information on EAH and business incentives, visit the REACH website, and contact Lillie Jernigan at 312-863-6005 or ljernigan@metroplanning.org.

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