Housing is a metropolitan issue that is often addressed community to community, if at all. The Daily Herald highlights recent efforts in the northwest Chicago suburbs:
In an era when housing development has slowed nearly to a halt, it can feel misguided to be talking about what kind of housing to build in a town and where to build it. But “Homes for a Changing Region” merits attention for a couple of reasons.
One, even the gravest cynic expects the economy will one day turn around and people again will be looking for comfortable homes in inviting communities. So, it’s best to begin preparing now for the types of homes they’ll be looking for.
Plus, the report — produced by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the regional Metropolitan Planning Council, all with the support of the five communities involved — introduces some new concepts that can help towns be smarter in their development. For one, it encourages cooperation among towns whose development futures seem intrinsically linked. For another, it focuses on reality rather than whim — the needs of residents a town is likely to have in the future rather than of residents it has today or even that it might hope to attract. It envisions an environment in which developers respond to the identifiable marketing needs of particular towns, rather than towns responding to the marketing goals of particular developers.
It’s a worthwhile approach, emphasizing data and efficiency. And it’s about to be applied in another collection of local communities — Carpentersville, East Dundee, Elgin and West Dundee. There, as in the Northwest collaborative, people may find the language more cumbersome and less thrilling than, to make a timely comparison, counting off the stats of a superstar quarterback or comparing defenses of teams from distant towns in the NFL. But. the end result can certainly have a more direct and beneficial impact on their quality of life at home.
Housing is a pressing issue in the Chicago region, particularly since affordable housing is lacking in the city of Chicago. Add to that the trend of decades-long job growth in and movement to the suburbs and there is also a lack of affordable housing in many Chicago suburbs, particularly in wealthier communities. While the Illinois legislature tried to address this in the 2000s, not much has changed.
Even with these new planning efforts, it remains to be seen how much this changes local communities. It sounds like there is a certain number of suburbs in one particular area who are interested but they need more support, not just across suburbs and regional groups, but within their own communities as they go forward with new housing plans. What happens if the suburb of Buffalo Grove, village of just over 41,000 and a median household income of over $91,000 and a poverty rate of 2.9%, and this planning group decides a development of affordable housing needs to be located near an upper-end subdivision? I imagine suburbanites would like the idea of developers responding to needs but what happens if these goals don’t line up?