March Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

March Media Tips

Dan Ryan Road Warriors, Do Yourselves a Favor: “Drive Less, Live More”

Road warriors are counting down with dread to March 31, when the Dan Ryan’s express lanes will be closed for much-needed maintenance, taking the already jam-packed expressway to half-capacity. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), in collaboration with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and Illinois Department of Transportation, is promoting a proven coping mechanism for drivers staring down two full years of missed morning meetings, cold suppers, and road rage – and it’s not a super-size travel mug full of Maalox. It’s public transportation.

Both in size and ridership, Chicagoland’s transit system is second only to New York’s. Most south side and south suburban commuters will find it’s easy to take transit to their destination by using one or a combination of Metra, Pace, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), or Northwest Indiana’s South Shore Line. Easy-to-access schedules, maps, trip-planning tools, and fare information are available for the CTA, Metra and Pace at, and for the South Shore at

“Once commuters get past the initial hiccups in their schedules, they may see the Dan Ryan nightmare as a blessing in disguise,” said MPC’s President MarySue Barrett. “Transit riders save money on gas and vehicle maintenance, avoid stress and anxiety caused by aggressive drivers and road delays, and have more time to spend on the activities and with the people they love. We encourage die-hard Dan Ryan drivers to ‘drive less, live more.’”

The “Drive Less, Live More” Web site, which will offer information on transportation alternatives and trip-planning tools, will be available soon at In the meantime, access RTA’s TripsWeb trip planner at .

MPC contact: Kit Hodge, Associate, Metropolitan Planning Council, 312.863.6044,
RTA Contact: Anayanzi Mendez, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Regional Transportation Authority, 312.913.3153,

Guv’s Budget Includes Funding Stream to Ensure Clean, Abundant Water Supply

In his budget proposal, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich included more than $1 million in funding for the creation of a statewide water management system. With summer just around the bend, the state still experiencing a drought, and the Illinois General Assembly set to adjourn early on April 7, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Campaign for Sensible Growth, and Openlands have been working to ensure legislators check off “approve funding for Illinois Water Supply Initiative” from their to-do lists.

Illinois lacks a statewide framework for regional water supply planning and management. Yet aquifers (stores of groundwater) and watersheds (the land that drains into a waterway) cut across political boundaries; for instance, development that occurs in one county affects water resources in neighboring counties. The Illinois Water Supply Initiative will create a framework for municipal and county governments to work together to ensure Illinois maintains a clean, abundant water supply for its growing population. This new state initiative grew out of the Troubled Waters report released in January 2006 by MPC, the Campaign, and Openlands.

MPC contact: Scott Goldstein, Vice President of Policy and Planning, 312.863.6003,
Openlands contact: Joyce O’Keefe, Deputy Director, Openlands, 312.863.6263,

New Research Crunches Numbers in Affordable Housing Crunch

Challenges to the creation and preservation of affordable and workforce housing have intensified, including the loss of rental housing and the rise in housing overvaluation, according to recent studies that offer quantified analyses of the Chicago-area and U.S. housing markets.

A strong housing market has driven up price tags on single-family homes, putting housing costs even further out of reach for working families. In 2005, housing in the Chicago metropolitan region was more than 20 percent overvalued, according to a recent report by the Global Insight/National City Corp. The study, which analyzed 299 metropolitan areas, ranked Chicago in the middle of the pack.

As the cost of homeownership becomes more burdensome to local families, the availability of rental housing – a critical alternative for those not ready or unable to invest in a home purchase – continues to dwindle nationwide. Harvard University ’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that more affordable rental housing is being lost than created each year. Deterioration, condo conversion, and gentrification contribute to the loss of 200,000 rental units each year, while Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other initiatives only spur the creation of about 100,000 new rental units for low-income people annually. Culprits contributing to the loss of rentals include local ordinances limiting housing density and inadequate financing options.

“To combat these and other challenges to the creation and preservation of affordable and workforce housing, we need to keep up the statewide momentum supporting local housing activity,” said Robin Snyderman, MPC housing director. “We urge state legislators to pass two critical pieces of housing legislation before the April 7 adjournment, the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act and the Location Matters bill, which will help create homes affordable to the workforce near jobs and transit.”

MPC also is encouraged by the recent introduction of the Housing America’s Workforce Act, a federal bill that builds on lessons learned in Illinois about affordable housing. For more information about this bill, visit Learn more about the state bills at Download Global Insight/National City Corp’s Housing Valuation Analysis at Check out Harvard’s rental housing analysis at

MPC contact: Robin Snyderman, Housing Director, 312.863.6007,
Contact: King Harris, Chairman, Harris Holdings, Inc; Senior Executive, Chicago Metropolis 2020, 312.831.4131,

Latino Growth Charts Future for Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area

It’s official: Latinos are the largest minority group in the Chicago metropolitan area, according to The Brookings Institution study released this month. The demographic shift has implications for the entire region, but especially the suburbs, which have seen a greater share of Latino population growth, while the rate of Latino immigration to the city of Chicago has tapered.

“Latino immigration is and will continue to be a key driver in regional growth,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett. “Our region is expected to add 2 million people by 2030. Like all new residents, Latino residents will need good schools, and quality housing and transit options near job opportunities. We must meet these needs, and channel the many assets Latinos bring, including purchasing power, entrepreneurship, and desire for homeownership.”

Between 2000 and 2004, Latinos accounted for 80 percent of the region’s overall population growth. The Brookings study analyzed 2004 Census Bureau data to determine that Hispanics now account for 18.4 percent of the metropolitan population, compared to 18 percent for blacks.

MPC contact: MarySue Barrett, President, Metropolitan Planning Council, 312.863.6001,
Brookings contact: William H. Frey, Visiting Fellow, The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, 202.797.6292 or

More posts by Mandy

All posts by Mandy »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »