Employers from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Mt. Prospect , Palatine, and Rolling Meadows attend briefing to learn about first-of-its-kind partnership to help working families purchase homes
(Chicago) … Big names like
Allstate and Motorola dot the landscape along the north branch of interstate 90,
one of the region’s strongest employment corridors. Yet ask workers at these and
other nearby companies how far they drive to get to their jobs, and many will
tell of one- or two-hour commutes one way. Local employers know the flip side:
late arrivals, absenteeism, and high turnover rates, all bad for the bottom
New data on workers in
Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove,
, Palatine and
employees earning less than $25,000 per year make up more than one-third of the
workforce, yet only 7 percent of local homes are affordable to those families.
Employees earning less than $50,000 per year represent 70 percent of the
workforce, yet only 40 percent of existing homes are affordable at that level.
To address this jobs-housing mismatch through a unique
public-private collaboration, mayors and employers from these five communities launched
the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative on May 18
the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative, local communities and employers
will tap new resources to cultivate innovative solutions to help their workers
afford homes in the communities in which they work every day,” said Scott C.
Swanson, president and CEO, Charter One Bank. “Charter One Bank knows how
valuable homeownership is to families and communities, and we are proud to
support this important new initiative.”
Employers attended Friday’s
briefing to learn not only how they can participate in the initiative, but also
why their involvement will benefit workers, employers and local communities
“Across Chicagoland, particularly in areas where there
are good job opportunities, the housing market is pricing out working families,”
said Mayor Arlene J. Mulder, Village of Arlington Heights. “Employers are having
trouble recruiting workers who are reluctant or unable to make long commutes
from more affordable towns. Or they hire workers from far-away towns who are
often tardy or who quit when they find a job closer to home.
Meanwhile, traffic gridlock in
our region increases every year. It’s all connected.”
“Local communities are teaming up to address the workforce housing shortage
by examining and changing our own policies to encourage the preservation
and development of affordable homes,” said Mayor Rita L.
Palatine. “Collectively, we are making
strides. With the help of private sector leaders, like those here today, we can
take the next steps.”
Those next steps are
critically needed, according to the nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council
(MPC), which along with nonprofit Housing Opportunity Development Corporation is
administering the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative. MPC provided context
at the briefing to illustrate how serious the jobs-housing mismatch is in the
northwest suburbs: in just the five communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo
Grove, Mt. Prospect, Palatine and Rolling Meadows, an additional 3,500 rentals
and 7,900 for-sale homes affordable to households earning less than $75,000 will
be needed by 2030, according to projections calculated by Fregonese Calthorpe
Associates for Chicago Metropolis 2020 and the Metropolitan Mayors
The numbers tell an
all-too-familiar story that is playing out in communities across the region,
said MPC President MarySue Barrett.
cannot promise employers that their workers will be able to afford quality homes, and if
we do not plan carefully to create more live-near-work opportunities
that reduce traffic, we are in danger of losing employers to metropolitan regions
that can and do,” said
“Chicago’s continued economic competitiveness
depends on guiding growth to create communities in which we can live, work and
help achieve this goal, the Charter One Workforce Housing Initiative offers
local companies a “menu of options” to choose from, outlining market-based
strategies they can employ to help workers afford existing homes and/or to help
create new homes affordable to working families. An early success of the program
is the expansion of locally proven models for addressing the workforce housing
shortage, such as employer-assisted housing (EAH).
Through EAH, employers provide qualifying employees with
downpayment assistance and free homeownership counseling to help them purchase a
home. In 2000, MPC launched its first EAH project in Illinois with System
Sensor, now a division of Honeywell, based in St. Charles, Ill. Since then, more
than 60 Illinois employers have invested in EAH, helping more than 1,000 workers
afford to purchase homes. Illinois Housing Development Authority matches an e
mployer’s downpayment assistance for households earning up to 80 percent of Area
Median Income (AMI in metropolitan Chicago is $75,400 for a family of four.) And
employers can tap t he Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit program, which
a 50-cent tax credit for every $1 invested in EAH.
These incentives make EAH very attractive to employers
large and small.
further encourage smaller businesses in the five communities to invest in
workforce housing by offering EAH programs, Charter One Bank will cover the cost
of providing homeownership counseling to their workers.
While EAH has
in Illinois, in large part due to
the attractive state incentives, employers also can address the workforce
housing shortage through a variety of tested models, according to Michelle
Olson, director of community and government
Chicago. Olson explained how the
university is helping preserve workforce housing in the five community’s
surrounding the university’s Hyde Park campus, through a
$1 million investment in Community Investment Corporation’s loan pool for rental
housing preservation and rehabilitation. (The university also has helped more
than 115 employees purchase homes through its successful EAH
For more information on the Charter One Workforce
Housing Initiative, contact Mandy Burrell, Metropolitan Planning Council
communications associate, at 312.863.6018 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Stacey R. Reineking, Charter
One Bank vice president, director of public affairs, at 312.777.3628 or email@example.com.
About Charter One Bank, N.A.
Charter One Bank, N.A., is a $46 billion bank operating in
Illinois , Indiana , Michigan and Ohio. It has 466 branches and more than 780
ATMs. It has 119 branches and 364 ATMs in Illinois . Charter One is a subsidiary
of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $161 billion commercial bank holding
company headquartered in Providence , R.I. Citizens has more than 1,600
branches, approximately 3,100 ATMs and more than 25,000 employees. It has a
13-state retail branch network plus non-branch retail and commercial offices in
about 40 states. Citizens is the eighth-largest commercial banking company in
the United States ranked by deposits and ninth in assets as of September 30,
2006. Citizens is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc).The
Web site is charterone.com.