Governor signs two key pieces of housing legislation - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Governor signs two key pieces of housing legislation

Both the Rental Housing Support bill and extension of the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit are now law.

History was made in Illinois this month, when the governor signed into law the Rental Housing Support bill and the extension of the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit, confirming unprecedented  leadership on state housing issues from this year’s legislature and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Why historic?  Just over five years ago, when the Metropolitan Planning Council released For Rent: Housing Options in the Chicago Region to inform public policy in advance of the 2000 U.S. Census, a few key findings jumped out.  Most alarming was the fact that there were fewer than 40,000 apartments  in the private market that were affordable to households earning less that 30 percent Area Median Income in the six-county region ... and that close to 200,000 households were competing for those homes.  The numbers since then have only gotten worse.

Also of grave concern were the numbers illustrating a growing mismatch between the location of jobs and population growth, and the availability of housing affordable.  Not only did the rental housing stock shrink in a decade when jobs increased by 16 percent and population by 11 percent, but homes affordable to the workforce were increasingly far from jobs and transportation.

Among the most noteworthy findings of that study was that, compared to other metropolitan areas, theChicago region was underproducing.  Traditional models of supply and demand were not at work.  At the time, many people explained that phenomenon by pointing out that we have over 270 municipalities making housing policy in this region, and that we had no state policy to guide or support them.  Others pointed to the lack of community acceptance.

Now that’s all changed. Not only did this governor sign an executive order in late 2003 creating the state’s first housing policy, but he appointed a Task Force to help him transform that policy into a usable plan.  Released in January of this year, Building for Success: Illinois' Comprehensive Housing Plan provides meaningful leadership and support.  These two bills are consistent with the plan, and illustrate the governor's committment to housing the state's neediest individuals and families,

Directly addressing the needs of households earning less than 30 percent Area Median Income (around $19,000 for a family of four), the Rental Housing Support Program creates  a new $10 county recordation fee, to generate about $30 million annually for rent subsidies for approximately 5,500 extremely low-income households across Illinois -- including seniors, people with disabilities, and families on the brink of homelessness.

The Illinois Housing Tax Credit , created in 2002 as a five-year initiative to provide tax relief to corporations investing in affordable housing, exemplifies the kinds of innovative partnerships that leverage critical private sector dollars. A set-aside for those investing in employer-assisted housing has also been a key component of this legislation. 

Both of these initiatives were widely supported by a range of stakeholders, a group that has expanded and become more sophisticated thanks to a number of initiatives in the last five years, including the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Housing Task Force and Housing Illiniois.


There is no panacea for bridging the widening affordability gap between supply and demand in Illinois' housing market, but the governor's comprehensive housing plan outlines a number of essential strategies:  The Rental Housing Support Bill and extension of the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit - - both central to MPC’s own Policy Agenda -- were among them.  Hats off to everyone who helped make history with advent of this legislation


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