At a recent MPC roundtable, "At Odds in My Back Yard: A Healthy Environment or Affordable Homes," panelists discussed the lack of affordable rental housing in Lake County - and what that means for traffic congestion and attracting enough workers to fill the county's growing number of jobs.
They're almost as rare as the endangered Blanding's turtle.
There are 89 in Vernon Hills, 37 in Round Lake Beach, 18 in Lake Zurich and a mere two in Lincolnshire.
And, throughout much of Lake County, their numbers are dwindling; they're extinct in Mettawa and Hainesville.
They're vacant apartments, and the latest figures from the 2000 census show Lake County - like most the rest of the Chicago region - becoming dominated by homeowners, while the number of renters shrink in proportion.
At the same time, job growth continues in Lake County, and some planners warn the super-tight rental market is making the area unattractive for all sorts of workers, from single, young professionals to middle-aged, working-class parents.
Planners say it's not just affordable housing that's being hurt.
"Talk about attracting young people out of college - we're not doing it," said Lake County environmentalist Susan Zingle, a panelist at a recent forum on housing. "They don't want a detached single-family home. A 22-year-old doesn't want to mow the lawn."
Zingle said the result is college graduates who commute from Chicago to jobs in Lake County and contribute to road congestion and air pollution.
"These census numbers confirm what we were saying years ago," said Robin Snyderman, housing director for the Metropolitan Planning Council, which sponsored the recent forum. "And it's not getting any better."