Recent forums underscore the value of MPC's current housing agenda in Springfield - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Recent forums underscore the value of MPC's current housing agenda in Springfield

Testimony at January 9 hearing for the Senate's Committee on Housing and Community Affairs, and a December dialogue among mayors and developers both advance clear priorities.

Two recent housing forums underscore the value of MPC’s legislative agenda, which is outlined at the conclusion of this article.


On January 9, MPC helped organize and moderate the second annual kick-off meeting for the new Senate Committee on Housing and Community Affairs .  Following an update on activities implemented through “Building for Success: Illinois’ Comprehensive Housing Plan ” from Kelly King Dibble, chair of the Governor’s Housing Task Force and IHDA executive director, the senators heard testimony from two different panels. 


The first panel -- consisting of Housing Action Illinois’ Bob Palmer, Riverdale Mayor Zenovia Evans, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing’s Sue Augustus – outlined the many reasons the current Executive Order on Housing needs to be transformed into legislation in 2006.  Palmer focused on how such legislation could better advance the plan’s goals around helping lower-income households, while Evans and Augustus focused on the need for mandatory intergovernmental coordination --  both as it relates to housing and services for special needs populations, as well as how it relates to housing and economic development and infrastructure to preserve and expandworkforce housing options in high job growth areas and redeveloping communities. 


The second panel – consisting of King Harris of Chicago Metropolis 2020, Mary White Vasys of the Preservation Compact, Juanita Irizarry of Latinos United, and Rosanna Marquez of Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities - focused more on existing market barriers that increased state leadership can address. Citing recent data from Homes for a Changing Region, Harris outlined the need for more multifamily housing and how the state could encourage local policy change.  Vasys outlined trends related to the loss of existing affordable housing - challenges to keep in mind as state and other policymakers work to address those trends - and the overrall goals of the Preservation Compact , whose final report will go public this spring.  Irizarry illustrated local examples of the above market barriers, such as those addressed by the MPC Rolling Meadows Task Force and a current private transaction inHighwood, Ill.  Marquez reminded state officials that the need for fair housing enforcement and creative thinking are greater than ever, and encouraged them to familiarize themselves with the facts and potential of The Segregation of Opportunities .


This Senate Hearing came on the heels of a forum on December 14,  when the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Housing Task Force responded to requests from the development community and substituted its regularly scheduled meeting with “How to Make Mixed-Income Housing Work: A Conversation with Mayors and Homebuilders.”  Hosted byRooseveltUniversity, at theSchaumburg campus, andHolland and Knight, this forum was co-sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago (HBAGC), Illinois Housing Council, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and Metropolitan Planning Council. Over  two dozen suburban municipalities were joined by approximately the same number of development firms, most of which brought more than one representative, so that ultimately over 110 people were in attendance.  The forum started with some brief but informative updates from the co-chairs of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, MPC, HBAGC, and from Joyce Probst, the governor’s new senior housing advisor. These presentations offered a flavor of how the governor’s housing plan is responding to local needs, while also challenging those in attendance to advance the state’s housing priorities – especially the live-near-work and preservation goals.  Following these overviews were presentations of  three case studies -- from the developers and municipal leaders involved in mixed-income housing recently approved or developed in suburban Chicago communities, areas in which workforce housing is scarce. 

These case studies focused on whether the developments made money - for the builder and/or for the town, what community acceptance issues were faced, and what tools and policies can make it easier to do similar developments in the future.   In large part, these case studies demonstrated that the way these developments succeed is through local leadership and creativity.  However a big focus of the conversation was to determine common “asks” that mayors and developers have for the state -  in other words, what key state activities will enable us to increase the number of well-built homes developed or preserved for Illinois’ moderate and low-income families.  The common message was that those on the ground trying to increase and improve the affordable and workforce housing options per the governor’s housing plan hope for  more support from the state by way of bureaucratic relief and even some financial compensation. 


Currently, MPC is supporting four pieces of pieces of legislation in Springfield which advance this goal.  Please email if you would like to be added as a supporter to any of the below :


SB 2290 , the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act, codifies Gov. Blagojevich’s Executive Order on Housing into legislation so that state departments such as Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and others will really begin to work with Illinois Housing Development Authority and the municipalities to make sure plans and dollars are being efficiently connected to ensure housing affordable to the local workforce is near jobs and transportation. By passing SB 2290, the state continues momentum past this gubernatorial term and truly links state spending in key areas such as economic development, transportation, and education to affordable housing. This act also begins to combine funding applications, creating the potential for something akin to that a one-stop shop. Click here for a fact sheet on SB2290.


SB 2885 , Location Matters, provides incentives for employers to consider and invest in housing options for the local workforce.  This legislation would allow DCEO to make the most efficient use of limited state funds while assisting businesses with progressive methods to invest in workforce stability - such as employer-assisted housing or transit programs. DCEO would be able to apply limited state economic development funds wisely; reduce commute time resulting in less traffic congestion and air pollution; promote the availability of workforce housing near jobs; and help businesses build a stable workforce. Click here for a fact sheet on SB2885.


SB2698, School Funding Bonus for Affordable Housing . In the spirit of the executive order and governor's housing plan language encouraging municipalities advancing affordable and workforce housing, and as a follow-up to Dec.14 forum, SB 2698 provides a school funding reimbursement to school districts affected by new multifamily housing activity.  Loosely modeled on the Massachusetts ordinance that offers this incentive in "smart growth districts," this bill provides the reimbursement when multifamily housing (non-age-restricted, not detached single family dwellings) advances the preservation and/or live-near-work goals of the governor's housing plan.  The bill is structured as an amendment to the Local Planning Technical Assistance Act, which enables the state to provide funding preferences for state programs (education, transportation, planning, etc.) to towns with updated comprehensive plans, as defined by the LPTA (and includes housing), or local housing plans as defined by the Affordable Housing and Planning Appeals Act. Click here for a fact sheet on SB2698.


SB2875, Fund Planning and Technical Assistance Act . This act, which was passed in 2002, not only defines what should be included in a comprehensive plan and offers a competitive edge to towns implementing such plans, but also offers aid from the state to municipalities and counties to update their plans.  This act still lacks a dedicated source of funding, so the impact of this legislation has been severely diminished.  Funding support for this legislation will provide much needed aid for communities trying to address local housing supply issues. Click here for a fact sheet on SB2875.


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