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Regional Public Housing

Promoting viable public housing across metropolitan Chicago

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 householdsinto 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.

Starting with a single regional public housing waiting list, the program offers families mobility counseling and connections to critical community resources and social services, to help lower-income households move not only to better homes, but also to better opportunities in communities with good jobs, transportation options and quality schools. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is funding MPC and Rand Corporation to document this pilot and ensure what we learn in this region can be a model for the nation.

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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BRicK Partners, LLC
Chicago Housing Authority
City of Chicago Dept. of Community Development
Chicago Housing Authority
DuPage Housing Authority
Housing Authority of Cook County
Housing Choice Partners
Illinois Housing Development Authority
Joliet Housing Authority
Lake County Housing Authority
McHenry County Housing Authority
Oak Park Housing Authority
RAND Corporation
Waukegan Housing Authority
Partnership for New Communities
U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

For more information

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
P 312 922 5616 F 312 922 5619
Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

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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