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Proviso Probe

Monday, August 06, 2007

should Illinois spend more on affordable housing?

Housing Matters is sending around the following action alert.
Take Action to Include Affordable Housing in the State Capital Budget
Dear So-and-so,

Illinois under-invests in affordable housing while other states spend significantly more. For example, California spends three times more per capita. Florida spends seven times more per capita. Massachusetts spends ten times more per capita.


Problem:

More than 1.3 million households in Illinois pay more than 35% of their income for housing, leaving too little for other basic necessities. More than 722,000 households in Illinois pay more than half their income for housing.



Solution:
Capital budget funding would help address critical state needs. For example, statewide more than 200,000 affordable rental units are at risk of loss. In just the next five years, approximately 39,000 subsidized multi-family units may be lost. Yet given current funding constraints, Illinois will be able to preserve less than 800 units this year. In addition, Illinois could construct new supportive housing units, which provide permanent affordable housing with support services for those who have been homeless or have special needs. Lastly, the lack of affordable housing in job-rich areas contributes to increased rates of absenteeism, worker turnover, and lost productivity. Business costs are being driven up as a result. Capital budget funding could create new housing near jobs and opportunity.



Action Needed:
Tell Governor Blagojevich and legislative leaders that affordable housing belongs in the capital budget. Affordable housing is a long-term asset that serves a public purpose. Affordable housing is part of our basic infrastructure just like roads, bridges, and schools on which businesses and communities depend. Housing construction and rehabilitation create good high-wage jobs around the state.



Deadline for responding: Please take action by August 9, 2007.

I confess I don't put much thought into housing as a public policy issue.

However, I strongly suspect that comparing Illinois to California, Florida and Massachusetts is an apples-and-oranges comparison because of the differential in the cost of housing where poor people live in those states.

That said, Illinois may be spending less than it should and the advocacy director at Housing Matters decided the state-to-state comparison is the simplest way to make the issue seem dire and important to the general public.

BTW, how much of the cost of housing for low income Proviso residents is property tax? Would getting property tax increases under control help keep housing affordable in Proviso Township?

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