A lack of affordable housing has been a problem in Naperville for years, impacting those who want to move, or even just stay, in town.
“Many of them are retirees, veterans, disabled, the list goes on and on,” said James Bernicky, chair of the Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission. “It’s not really any particular one group that is asking for affordable housing, to be honest. It’s a variety of groups.”
Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance
Last week, city council took a step in addressing that by directing staff to begin researching an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. It would require a certain number of units in each new development to qualify as affordable housing.
While each council member seems to want to tackle this issue, there are some concerns about whether an IZO is the way to go. Some on council said other towns that implemented inclusionary zoning saw development slow or stop completely.
“Nobody wants to see development stop and it also would harm the goal of adding affordable housing,” said Councilman Patrick Kelly. “If you don’t add any new development, you don’t get affordable housing.”
Building Relationships with Developers
One way to help an IZO get established is to create a relationship with affordable housing developers – something both Kelly and Councilman John Krummen said the city should do.
“There are developers who know how to do this and they’re able to take advantage of the tax credits and tax laws and they can turn a profit while doing it,” said Krummen. “This idea that we can never turn a profit while doing this has been proven false again and again and again. There are obviously developers who can.”
The Next Steps
The city will now hire a consultant to research and help craft the ordinance. Things to consider include how much affordable housing to require, whether to allow developers to pay a fee-in-lieu of meeting the affordable housing standards, and whether small developments should be exempt.
Councilman Kelly said he doesn’t know how long the process will take, but he estimated several months before the ordinance is brought back.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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