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Affordable Housing

Naperville City Council Hopes to Encourage Affordable Housing

Naperville officials tasked a consultant with structuring a package of incentives to entice developers to build housing developments that include affordable units.

SB Friedman, the consultant enlisted by the city to establish a voluntary program, is proposing that Naperville pull from a collection of up to three incentives to entice developers. They would vary based on the level of participation in building rentals and local for-sale projects that include an affordable component for a 30-year period.

About the Program

Fran Lefor Rood, senior vice president for SB Friedman, said the program is designed to benefit developers targeting lots that would provide five or more dwelling units on land that can be subdivided. That means redevelopment of single lots within a subdivision would not be eligible for incentives.

Assistance could be granted in the form of density, yard/setbacks, lot coverage, parking, lot width, height, among other things, according to council documents.

The more affordable units a developer sets aside for low-income households, the more incentives they would qualify for.

The Process

Should a developer seek additional incentives, Lefor Rood explained that there is a process in place to address it that requires review and approval. But some officials raised concerns about putting developers through hoops with setting and holding public hearings.

Lefor Rood replied, saying the process is streamlined in part by locking in incentives as a guarantee, all while reducing time and cost to developers.

Masonry Requirement

Councilwoman Jennifer Bruzan Taylor raised caution about the city removing the masonry requirement as a possible incentive.

“I’m afraid when you take away the masonry requirement that all of a sudden these units may stand out as affordable housing,” Bruzan Taylor said. “They may look really nice when they’re brand new but 15 years, 20 years from now wear and tear happens. They’re going to kind of stand out as potential eyesores.”

In the past, the city has granted variances to developers that lift the masonry requirement.

“I think that if we start chipping away at the incentives… not giving relief on open space, then there are no incentives anymore,” Mayor Steve Chirico said.

Preservation of Open Space

Preservation of open space historically runs counter to the development of high-density developments.

Chirico acknowledged that density and affordable housing tend to go hand in hand and that they’re in direct conflict to one another

“We’re trying to promote affordability but then we say, ‘but we want open space,’” Chirico said. “The whole idea of building these things affordably is density. … I think we got to look at this as what’s going to produce the best results, and our goal is to have these types of units built.”

Naperville has been cited twice by the Illinois Housing Development Authority for not complying with affordable housing requirements. The program, put together in working with SB Friedman, aims to help address the issue.

Council Input

Some council members had questions about the proposed incentives that should be extended to developers. But a majority of the city council supported the pitch made by the consultant.

SB Friedman intends to report back to the city council after testing for financial impact and additional outreach with developers.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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