stability. Traffic gridlock. Homelessness. Segregation. These are not the kinds
of challenges we can tackle in a moment’s time, or with a pithy declaration.
With his historic release of "Building for Success: Illinois' Comprehensive
Housing Plan," Gov. Rod Blagojevich wraps up the first year's work of his
Housing Task Force and demonstrates how the state could pursue a more equitable
distribution of quality affordable housing options near jobs, transportation and
policies are almost exclusively determined by mayors and volunteer commissioners
1,290 municipalities. In recent years, frustrated by vexing growth and
development challenges, mayors and other stakeholders have increasingly turned
to the state for guidance and support.
Building on the housing policy articulated in his Sept.
2003 Executive Order, the governor’s plan kicks-off a multi-year agenda to
promote affordability and choice for all Illinois households, create and
preserve the state's supply of affordable and workforce housing, and engage more
local and state leaders in advancing housing solutions.
With the leadership of Kelly King Dibble, executive
director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority – and the input of
hundreds of industry leaders, advocates, academics, and policymakers – the plan
provides an over-arching message that affordable and workforce housing are
important to communities throughout the state. Perhaps more salient, the plan is
not destined to go up on a shelf; it provides detailed assignments, timelines,
and accountability mechanisms.
By requiring interdepartmental efficiencies, “Building
for Success” bridges the historic divide between the state agencies providing
capital and service dollars for housing, a bureaucratic problem that has
frustrated developers and left too many families literally out in the
cold. The governor’s plan clearly favors rent subsidies, in-home supports,
and supportive housing over institutional environments. It also outlines a
number of initiatives to pursue and pilot, including land trusts and shared-risk
property insurance pools. To achieve these goals, the governor’s plan sets
forth a variety of activities for leveraging private sector investment and
untapped federal funds.
The Metropolitan Planning Council is particularly
pleased about the state's embrace of employer-assisted housing, as demonstrated
by its recent decision to expand statewide incentives for business leaders
investing in housing for a competitive workforce. This is one incentive to
encourage municipalities to work to advance the governor's housing agenda and
serve their residents’ housing needs. The plan’s offer of capacity building
assistance is another. But more is needed. The next step should be to provide a
competitive edge for transportation and economic development dollars to towns
that are helping the state save money and enhance quality of life by linking
housing, jobs and transportation.
Little is more important to our families and communities
than the quality, location and affordability of their homes. “Building for
Success” is a meaningful work-in-progress, and this administration deserves
kudos for assuming leadership on this most fundamental of issues.
Metropolitan Planning Council;