8 ideas to increase affordable housing in Naperville
Naperville could take steps toward a long-standing goal of increasing its affordable housing stock as the city council prepares to review recommendations from a group that has spent months examining the issue.
Housing advisory commission members this week finalized a list of recommendations compiled from a consultant's report received in January.
Commissioners say the ideas are designed to help the city meet a state mandate on affordable housing and provide more places where seniors, young professionals and others who can't afford many of the houses in Naperville can live.
The state requires that 10% of a municipality's housing stock qualify as affordable. The city last year estimated that Naperville falls short at 7.5%, with about 3,800 homes defined as affordable out of roughly 50,000. A report from consultant SB Friedman found the median home value in Naperville is $399,000 and the median rent is $1,415.
Mayor Steve Chirico mentioned increasing affordable housing last spring as one of his goals for his second term. He said the city needs to have "a blend of housing for all parts of our community," and there are "gaps that need to be filled."
Housing advisory commissioner Mark Rice said the issue has taken on greater urgency in light of recent social justice movements.
"It really has risen to the top as far as inequities in our country go," Rice said, "And Naperville has got to do something about it, just like every other community."
The housing advisory commission is recommending the following steps to expand affordable housing:
• Develop working relationships with affordable housing developers.
• Develop a strategy to leverage publicly owned land to address housing challenges.
• Develop a specific plan to preserve "Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing."
• Establish additional resources to assist populations with special housing needs.
• Create a specific staff position within the city to address housing issues.
• Establish a rehabilitation loan fund to help low-income senior homeowners make repairs so they can age in place.
• Establish a housing trust fund to help veterans, seniors, populations with special housing needs and first responders (including nurses, police officers and firefighters) purchase a home.
• Implement an inclusionary zoning ordinance that would require developers to include a percentage of affordable units in their projects or contribute to a fund to support affordable housing.
These ideas and others are listed in the report from SB Friedman, which found that roughly 22% of homeowners and 44% of renters in Naperville are spending more than 30% of their income on housing, making them "cost-burdened." Many of these households are low-income, the report found, saying "there appears to be a considerable need for both owner- and renter-occupied affordable housing and income-restricted housing throughout the city to meet current residents' needs."
The city council is expected to consider the recommendations during its meeting Aug. 18.