In a move that could be a boon to affordable senior housing and first-time homebuyers in the village, Mount Prospect trustees agreed this week to join the Cook County HOME consortium.
HOME Investment Partnership is a federal program that grants money to states and communities for affordable housing.
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Mount Prospect receives $84,000 each year from the federal government, but must give up that money to the state because the village falls beneath a required population threshold.
As a result, the village or developers must apply to the state for funding to help subsidize such projects as the Alden Senior Development at Wolf and Kensington roads. It took three tries before developers of Alden finally received money from the state.
By switching to the Cook County consortium, Mount Prospect would be turning the $84,000 over to the county rather than the state, an environment Mount Prospect Community Development Director William Cooney feels will be more favorable for projects such as Alden's, as well as first-time homebuyer assistance programs and rehabilitation of rental housing.
Indeed, the Alden project is already receiving an infusion of money from the Cook County consortium, although Maria Choca Urban, director of planning and development at the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, said Mount Prospect could have received more had it already been a member of the consortium.
"We would like to have participated at a larger level, but our investment was constrained by how much the village could match our commitment," she said.
Urban told the village board at Tuesday's meeting that Oak Park joined the consortium last year, while Schaumburg is considering it. She acknowledged that communities have been wary of committing to the county because of political baggage from the past.
"There are going to be some communities that want to take a wait-and-see attitude," she said.
Still, at least one trustee, Steven Polit, said, after Urban assured him none of the money would have to go through the state after the village becomes a member of the consortium next year, "That makes me much more comfortable. Much more comfortable."