Reports: St. Charles affordable housing stock increases

 
 
Posted1/15/2019 5:29 AM

As St. Charles officials have worked to expand housing programs for residents and developers, the city's stock of affordable residential units has been on the rise, according to city and state reports.

Affordable housing made up 23.7 percent of St. Charles' housing portfolio in 2017 -- up from 22.3 percent in the previous year, according to an annual analysis presented Monday by Planner Ellen Johnson. The increase is likely due to a rise in area median income, she said, which results in higher affordable home prices and rent payments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A separate report released last month by the Illinois Housing Development Authority determined the city's affordable housing share is at 17.1 percent, nearly 6 percentage points higher than the state's findings in 2013.

The discrepancy is the result of different data used in the two reports, Johnson said. St. Charles, for example, uses township assessor information for home prices and unit counts, whereas the state uses estimates from the American Community Survey.

The city has been tracking its housing affordability for the last decade to ensure it meets the state's standard, which says 10 percent of a community's dwellings should be affordable, Johnson said. To maintain compliance, the city council adopted an ordinance in 2008 requiring residential developers to either incorporate affordable housing into their projects or pay a fee.

"It reflects the city's commitment to ensuring we have a balanced housing stock for current and future residents," Johnson said.

She pointed to the Prairie Centre project underway at the former St. Charles Mall site. Of the 670 residential units planned, about 75 will be in the form of a senior affordable housing development called Anthony Place.

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In a preliminary vote Monday, the planning and development committee also agreed to increase the city's fee for developers who choose not to include affordable housing in their projects.

The change, from roughly $36,410 to $39,656, reflects a higher affordable home price set by the state's 2018 report, Johnson said. The city calculates its fee based on a 25 percent down payment for one affordable unit.

Alderman Will Turner expressed concerns over raising the in-lieu fee without knowing how the housing market will look in the future.

"I'd rather just leave everything alone and not rock the boat," he said.

But Aldermen Rita Payleitner and Steve Gaugel said they'd prefer to stick with the city's designated formula. "It gives us a means of explanation," Gaugel said.

Developers' in-lieu fees are put into a housing trust fund, which supports city programs that help income-eligible residents buy or make necessary repairs to their homes, Johnson said. The city also started partnering with a Kane County program this past summer to provide financial assistance to affordable housing developers.

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