Naperville holding 'community conversation' about affordable housing

With Naperville facing a state mandate to increase affordable housing, some officials want to help residents understand the issue.

Naperville City Councilman John Krummen and DuPage County Board member Dawn DeSart have scheduled a "community conversation" about affordable housing at 7:30 p.m. Monday in city hall, 400 S. Eagle St.

The forum will include a panel discussion about the mandate and its potential impact on the community.

"I thought it was the right time to have this," Krummen said Tuesday. "There's information that needs to be out there so the community can make informed decisions on how we should go forward."

The meeting comes several weeks after the council talked about including affordable housing in a development being considered near the Metra station along 5th Avenue. Council members set a goal of having at least 20% of the housing units planned for the development meet the state definition of affordable.

Preliminary plans for the 5th Avenue development call for nearly 400 apartments, roughly 40 condos and a dozen or so brownstones. In addition, the plans show 1,200 new parking spaces and a mix of office, retail and flexible space.

The city's housing advisory commission says the development could help Naperville make progress toward complying with a state law requiring that 10% of housing count as affordable. Naperville includes 3,800 homes defined as affordable out of its stock of roughly 50,000, or 7.5%.

"We have a portfolio of housing needs in Naperville," Krummen said. "We need to have a portfolio of housing solutions."

He said Monday's event will generate ideas and information about affordable housing.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority defines affordable housing in a two-step process using the area's median household income.

First, it says the type of occupant used to set the affordable definition is a person or family making 60% of the area median household income, adjusted for family size. Then, it takes the amount of money earned at 60% of area median household income and says the rent must be no more than 30% of that amount.

So if a family making 60% of the area median household income has to pay no more than 30% of its income toward rent to live in a certain place, that place is defined as affordable.

Panelists on Monday will include Mary Beth Nagai, DuPage Housing Alliance; Kate Melekhova, DuPage Habitat for Humanity; Jennifer Truppa, regional director of resident services, Mercy Housing Lakefront; Dave Neary, executive director, DuPage Habitat for Humanity; and Anne Houghtaling, executive director, HOPE Fair Housing.

Krummen said there will be a brief presentation but the experts will spend most of the night responding to questions from the audience.

DeSart said she hopes bringing the conversation to the forefront will help spur development of affordable housing in Naperville.

"We want to keep retired seniors in our community," she said. "When kids come back from college and take jobs in the area, we want to be able to offer affordable housing to those young people."

DeSart said Monday's event will be the first in a series of community conversations. The plan is to schedule a meeting on a different topic each quarter.

Dawn DeSart
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.