The best and worst way to deal with a problem is to not acknowledge that it exists and maybe it will magically go away. It could be a cough, weeds in the yard, a car with an engine knock, a misbehaving child, or bills in the mail. If I don’t get the mail, then I don’t have to deal with the bills. But sooner or later it has to be addressed, and that’s where city officials find themselves with the lack of ‘affordable’ housing in Naperville. More and more eyes are focusing on the issue which then makes it a problem even if it’s not a problem.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority called out Naperville for not having enough affordable housing even though a 2013 report showed a little over 6% being affordable, and a 2018 report showed it had risen to slightly less than 8%, falling short of the 10% goal set by the IHDA. Naperville is moving in the right direction, just not as fast as others would like. At this rate it could take another five years to reach the goal, but most importantly the goal will be reached unless the goal line is moved.
Naperville is the largest Illinois city not to meet the 10% goal along with being one the 46 towns to fall short of the threshold. Other towns, in addition to Naperville, short on affordable housing include: Barrington, Burr Ridge, Geneva, Hinsdale, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Oak Brook, Wilmette, and Winnetka. What else do they have in common? They are all desirable destinations to raise a family. Who wouldn’t want to live in one of those towns?
I wanted to live in one of those towns when I graduated from college, but I couldn’t afford it. I started out in Davenport, Iowa, then Skokie (big mistake), then Des Plaines, and after three years of working 80-hours a week in the ‘real’ world I was able to afford a small home in Barrington, prior to moving to Naperville 41 years ago.
Rather than lowering Naperville’s standard of living threshold in order to achieve affordable housing quickly, city officials need to take the time to identify important objectives, set appropriate priorities, and develop strategy to accomplish the goal, while anticipating consequences of decisions and actions. Doing it right trumps doing it fast.
Maybe the Rolling Stones got it right, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need”.