St. Charles foreclosures, affordable homes up; income down

Foreclosures, affordable homes up; income down

 
 
Updated 6/14/2012 1:10 PM

Despite an ongoing increase in the number of foreclosed homes in St. Charles, a study released this week shows there is more affordable housing in the city. The news comes despite a drop in the median income of residents.

City officials began evaluating local housing stock for affordability in 2009. The goal is to make sure the city meets the recommended state standard, which says 10 percent of the dwellings should be "affordable."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Affordable means that a family earning 80 percent of the area median income spends no more than 30 percent of that income on housing.

The area median income is a measure of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. The latest data shows 80 percent of the area median income is about $60,000. A household with that income level should spend no more than about $18,000 a year on housing. That's a monthly payment of no more than about $1,500. For that price, an affordable single-family home would cost no more than about $187,000.

That may seem a bit low. As recently as 2006, the median home sale price in St. Charles was $302,000. Prices plummeted every year after that. The median home sale price in St. Charles in 2010 was $225,000, according to the study. And only 9.32 percent of the city's single-family homes meet the affordable standard. That's about 706 homes, a lower number than last year's study (783).

Part of that decrease stems from a drop in the number of single-family homes for sale. In a tough market, the number of single-family homes that are now rental units more than doubled in the past year to 482.

That's a bit of good news for renters. The total number of affordable rental units in St. Charles is up, in part because of that home rental trend. For buyers, the good news is there are more affordable townhouses and condominiums in the city.

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Taking single-family, townhouses, condos and rentals all together, the total amount of affordable housing in St. Charles is now at 18 percent of the housing stock, a small increase from the last study.

That doesn't mean everything is great in the world of St. Charles housing.

The number of foreclosed homes in St. Charles now totals 451. That continues an increase in foreclosures since the city began tracking them in 2008.

In that first year, there were only 23 foreclosures. By 2011, the total reached 342.

Beyond that black eye, city officials are also dealing with the maintenance and policing problem of vacant foreclosures. About 25 percent of all the foreclosed homes in the city are vacant.

City officials are now having to take it upon themselves to watch those properties, make them look lived-in and cut the grass, as well as try to find someone to hold accountable for the property.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We decided we didn't want board-ups," said Building and Code Enforcement Division Manager Bob Vann. "We wanted to get ahold of a property owner, or take that property and try to deal with it the best we can. This has been a challenge for us. But I think the banks are doing a better job of understanding."

In seeing the report, aldermen were not as concerned about affordable housing or foreclosures as they were with what city employees deem "nuisance properties."

The city regularly receives complaint calls about 23 nuisance properties. Employees check the properties almost daily to ensure they meet city code.

"How do you take it to the next level and send a message to that landlord that the property is coming in and out of compliance?" asked Alderman Cliff Carrignan.

City staffers said a landlord with recurring compliance problems eventually stops receiving warning letters and just receives tickets, which can be a gateway for the issues to be resolved in court.

St. Charles: 451 foreclosed homes in the city

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