The issue: Inefficient, uncoordinated development
With suburban poverty rates at an all-time high, the region is experiencing significant community development challenges—including mounting home foreclosures, vacant properties, and economic and traffic gridlock. Meanwhile, resources are in short supply at every level of government. Even if all communities had the staff capacity, political will and expertise to individually develop, implement and monitor sound strategies and policies, many issues—including housing, commerical development and infrastructure—do not adhere to municipal borders. Yet federal funding formulas and local policies tend to deal with these matters on a town-by-town basis, far too often leading to missed opportunities to leverage adjacent public and private investment, squandered resources and isolated neighborhoods that continue to struggle. In metropolitan Chicago’s 280-plus communities, there is a critical need to lower costs, increase capacity and improve the results of local planning and development efforts.
The solution: Communities working together to address shared challenges
In partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, MPC is helping several clusters of Chicago suburbs pilot an innovative approach to housing and community development. By forging public-private partnerships, these municipal leaders are advancing more efficient and effective housing and community development strategies.
It is not new for municipalities to cooperate to achieve efficiencies; for instance, neighboring communities often contract with the same water provider or garbage collector to secure a lower cost. However, interjurisdictional collaboration for housing and community development is relatively untested—and metropolitan Chicago has become a national proving ground for this approach. Since 2009, 23 suburbs in South Cook County and five communities in West Cook County have been working together to advance jointly adopted redevelopment strategies, while a newer cluster of five northwest suburbs formalized their partnership in 2011.
Philanthropic funding has enabled each collaborative to hire a housing coordinator, who advances a shared housing and community development strategy and assists participating communities in securing capital resources to tackle critical issues that, due to capacity challenges, have received little attention in recent years. Each coordinator is guided by expert staff from member communities, and local elected officials or appointed representatives vote on key decisions.
Increase staff capacity
Members gain a dedicated, shared staff person with expertise on complex development issues.
Right-size your planning
Many issues do not adhere to municipal borders and can be more effectively and efficiently addressed in collaboration.
Leverage investments and private sector partnerships
A single point of entry makes it easier for developers, banks, employers and funders to work with municipalities. Coordination also sends a signal to the private sector that the area is a smart place to invest.
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