Several west central Lake County communities will be the focus of a yearlong study to determine strategies for current and future housing issues.
Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Heights and Hainesville will become the most recent cluster of towns in the Chicago area to work with and receive free expertise on the issue from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
An analysis of the current market, the capacity for towns to build more housing and what those needs might be, as well as making educated guesses to what future buyers and renters will want, are among the elements of the study expected to start in earnest this fall.
"We try to give communities a sense of what type of housing stock people might be looking for in the future," said Jonathan Burch, project director and a senior planner with the agency.
A comparison of the type (rental/owner) and price of housing to the age and income of residents; identifying opportunities and gaps in housing; and, how key job sectors match with existing housing is part of the information to be unearthed.
"That's sort of the whole point of the process. We want to plumb what those issues are," Burch said.
The Metropolitan Planning Council and the Metropolitan Mayors are partners in the effort. The Lake County Community Foundation, which is coordinating the effort locally, applied to the planning agency for the assistance.
"It's a really great opportunity for the communities to have a collective understanding of what their needs will be going forward," said Maggie Morales, the Foundation's manager of community involvement.
"Housing needs are changing. The original housing stock that's there doesn't necessarily meet the needs of the residents who live there today," she added.
She noted the study would cover a broad scope of housing matters rather than just the need for affordable or fair housing, for example.
Letters of support from the individual communities, which are in the process of officially accepting the services, note that the focused help will provide customized housing plans and enhance relations with neighboring communities.
"They want to see them as actionable steps. We're hopeful it will be a valuable resource going forward," Morales said. Public input will be part of the process.
This effort will be similar to those in several other suburban clusters. A study involving Carpentersville, East Dundee, West Dundee and Elgin, for example, was just completed.
Elgin is working on a new comprehensive plan, Burch noted, and will use the housing information gleaned from this report.
Round Lake Mayor Dan MacGillis said his village will participate but he has more immediate concerns.
"Right now, developing a retail base to get money to be able to support a new development," tops the list, he said. "I want to be aware of this project but for the village or Round Lake, we still need that retail base."