If you keep kicking the can down the road, you finally reach a dead end. That’s where Naperville city officials find themselves with regard to the lack of affordable housing in Naperville. This comes as no surprise, the city council has been talking about this for years. That’s the problem, they’ve been talking without taking necessary action for years.
Twice a State of Illinois agency has cited Naperville for inadequate affordable housing, Naperville is the only city in Illinois with a population of more than 50,000 residents cited for the shortage. More than 25% of Naperville households are paying higher housing costs than federal government guidelines define as affordable which is less than 30% of household income is spent on rent or mortgage, and utilities.
This means that Naperville needs to add no less than 3,000 lower cost homes for buyers with incomes of less than $50,000, and more than 2,000 low-cost rental units for renters with incomes below $35,000, and as time goes on, it will only get worse. By the middle of the century almost 14,000 new housing units need to be added to reach a balanced housing mix of both affordable and market-rate units.
Naperville city councilman Patrick Kelly, also a member of Naperville’s Housing Advisory Commission, was flabbergasted with the thought. Astonishingly he said, “It was like, holy cow! That’ a lot of units! Where would we even put them!”
That is not what you want to hear from a sitting member of the city council, especially one sitting on the Housing Advisory Commission! Where has councilman Kelly been while this issue has been marinating and boiling over. Simply stated, it’s either a foolish statement, or Kelly is in ‘over his head’ which is a nicer way of saying he is incompetent.
Kelly’s comment would be comparable to the principal of a grade school, looking out the window of his office, on the first day of school and saying, “Holy cow, look at all those kids! Where can we put them!”
There is a way that councilman Patrick Kelly can try to redeem himself and solve two major Naperville issues at the same time; the issues of affordable housing and the Fifth Avenue Development. Simply suggest building a 20-story low-income housing project on the property and bingo, both issues solved. Now all he has to do is get four other council members to buy-in to the idea, and push it through without public input.