Naperville Set To Approve Affordable Housing Incentives

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Mayor Steve Chirico (Facebook/Mayor Steve Chirico, Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A Chicago suburb that has been criticized for not having enough affordable housing took a step toward addressing the issue and resolving years of haggling over how to do so.

The Naperville City Council last week passed an ordinance that would create a program that could coax developers into incorporating affordable units in residential developments, the Daily Herald reported. The program, which passed in a unanimous vote, will offer a variety of incentives to developers, depending on how much affordable housing they propose.

The suburb, one of Chicago’s most populated, has been working on expanding its affordable housing stock through new development since 2018, which is when the Illinois Housing Development Authority told the city that only 7.5 percent of Naperville’s dwellings qualified as affordable, less than the 10 percent required for a community to be in compliance with the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act.

That law, passed by the state legislature in 2003, gives developers a route to appeal local government decisions that block projects including affordable housing in towns that aren’t meeting the threshold and receive a green light to build through that route. It has similarities to the builder’s remedy regulations in California that was mostly unused until recently, when developers began pushing projects through an alternative path to standard local government approvals.

Over the summer, the planning and zoning commission in Naperville unanimously voted against a voluntary three-tiered program that would have given developers bonuses for including affordable housing in new projects, such as extra unit density and floor-area ratios. The political body’s main problem? The public wouldn’t have had the opportunity to weigh in on proposed developments.

“The public should not be precluded from being involved in determining how, where and whether development proceeds,” Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Bruce Hanson said at the time. “Government should not operate that way.”

The ordinance won’t apply to single-family projects or duplexes. Some of the incentives developers can choose from include reduced yard setback requirements and allowances for taller buildings. Depending on how much affordable housing a developer includes, they could theoretically be granted more than one incentive.

“This is a historic night for Naperville,” Councilman Ian Holzhauer said at the meeting. “We’re envisioning an inclusive future where people who work in Naperville can afford to live in Naperville.”

The incentive program has been reviewed by the local Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission. The ordinance is set for final approval at an upcoming meeting.

 

Source: Naperville Set To Approve Affordable Housing Incentives

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