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Community Conversations: Affordable Housing

Last week, a grandmother reached out to me. She told me her granddaughter, the granddaughter’s two children, and a third baby due at any time, were living with a brother. Wanting to downsize, the brother had put his home up for sale, not knowing how long it would be on the market. Unfortunately for the woman’s granddaughter, his home sold quickly, and she needs to find a place for herself and her children immediately. The grandmother lives in a 55-and-older community, so moving in with her is not an option. The young family literally has no where to go.

This happens every day in DuPage County, and it’s up to county and municipal leadership to come up with ways in which we can solve housing issues for low-income residents.

“There are 68 low-income housing apartment complexes, which contain 8,996 affordable apartments for rent in DuPage County. Many of these rental apartments are income-based housing with about 5,414 apartments that set rent based on your income,” according to “Often referred to as ‘HUD apartments,’ there are 3,850 Project-Based Section 8 subsidized apartments in DuPage County. There are 3,582 other low income apartments that don't have rental assistance, but are still considered to be affordable housing for low-income families.”

If a household pays more than 30% of their gross income on rent, that household is considered “rent overburdened.” Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental assistance is available for low-income households. For a one-person household, the threshold is $17,800. For a two-person household, the threshold is $20,350. For a three-person household, it is $22,900. And for a four-person household, it is $25,400.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) are also available to DuPage County residents whose incomes are less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). In DuPage County, a family of four would qualify with an annual income of $50,760.

On the flip side, there are vocal opponents to affordable housing in DuPage County, generally, and in Naperville, specifically.

“Community concerns about safety and crime, and the type of population served (through affordable housing opportunities) show specific biases against affordable housing versus general development,” according to Shelterforce, an independent, nonacademic publication that covers community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.

Are these concerns legitimate? One Naperville proponent of affordable housing in Naperville recently told me they were on offense right now, “before fear mongers get ahold of this.”

Illinois state law requires municipalities to have 10 percent affordable housing. As of now, Naperville only has 7.5 percent.

I invite you to come hear all sides of this community conversation, whether you’re interested in affordable housing or have questions about its impact on the community.

Join Naperville City Councilman John Krummen and me for “Community Conversations: Affordable Housing” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6, at the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle Street, Naperville.

Expert panelists include representatives from the DuPage Housing Alliance, DuPage Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Housing, and HOPE Fair Housing.

This nonpartisan forum is free and open to the public.

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