The issue: Demand for affordable homes outpaces availability
Though metropolitan Chicago’s housing market remains weak, the availability of affordable homes in communities with good job opportunities and quality schools continues to fall far short of demand. The housing crisis turned many previous homeowners into renters, and increased joblessness added further pressure to an already tight rental market. The recession hit suburbs and cities indiscriminately; combined with America’s changing demographics, its effects sparked a nationwide phenomenon: Today, more of the nation’s poor live in the suburbs than in cities. In our region, the number of suburban households living in poverty grew by 76 percent in the 2000s (Brookings Institution).
The solution: Make affordable homes available in a variety of communities
Since its foundation in 1934, MPC has been committed to integrating quality homes affordable to families at a range of incomes—including very low-income households—into healthy communities with transportation options, job opportunities and quality schools. Currently, MPC is:
Continuing to ensure Chicago’s new mixed-income communities thrive. As the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation heads into its next phase, Plan Forward, MPC is convening developers of these new communities to share best practices for building and supporting successful neighborhoods.
Taking lessons learned from nearly eight decades of public housing work in Chicago to the suburbs. With eight regional housing authorities and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, MPC is leading the Regional Housing Initiative to rehabilitate and construct affordable multifamily rental housing across the region. With these same partners, MPC is piloting a better way to match families with public housing in quality neighborhoods.
The benefits: Stable housing plays critical role in household outcomes
From their health to their wealth, families with stable housing situations have a far greater chance of succeeding. Families without access to neighborhoods with transportation options, job opportunities and quality schools experience:
- Greater rent burden. A person is considered “rent burdened” when he pays more than 30 percent of his income toward housing. When affordable housing is hard to come by, more and more people have little option but to spend 40, 50, or even 60 percent of their income on rent, leaving precious little for essentials such as food and utilities.
- Diminished quality of life. The more time workers spend commuting to far-flung places of employment, the less time they have to spend taking care of themselves, their families and their communities.
- Poor health. When people live too far from public transportation, or don’t feel safe walking to and from their station, they miss out on the opportunity to build more activity into their day: A 2011 Active Living Research study found that walking to and from public transit satisfies the daily physical activity recommendation for 29 percent of transit users.
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