Residents Not Fans of Affordable Housing Recommendation
“Homes for a Changing Region” study presented as officials continue shooting down rumors that drew residents to village hall Monday.
A study exploring existing housing and how Arlington Heights can implement a balanced housing plan is done, but residents voiced objections and asked officials not to use the study as a blueprint for the future.
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has been working with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the Metropolitan Planning Council on a study titled “Housing for a Changing Region” for the last year.
The study examined the existing housing inventory and identified housing trends. CMAP wanted to provide the information to Arlington Heights, which is part of the Northwest Suburban Housing Collaborative, as a tool to use for future planning.
Residents, however, weren’t keen on one of the major recommendations that came out of the study. Specifically, the village should consider affordable housing developments.
The recommendation caused alarm among residents who began hearing rumors that the village planned Section 8 housing on a piece of property along South Arlington Heights Road.
“It just caused confusion and a lot of alarm,” said Jennifer Cazares, one of several people who spoke Monday night.
The report did not recommend such a development. It did, however, point out the need for housing for people earning less than $15,000. “The project need for units in the less than $15,000 income category is likely attributable to the community’s aging population and the number of seniors. Over 60 percent of future owners earning less than $15,000 are projected to be over 65,” the study stated.
“Rumors, rumors, rumors,” said King Harris, a board member of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “This is not a plan to build Section 8 housing in Arlington Heights.”
CMAP recommends the village consider senior housing needs and encourage rehabilitation of single-family homes for seniors, Harris said. What Arlington Heights may face is seniors moving out because they can no longer afford housing, according to the report.
“You don’t want to lose these people (seniors),” Harris said. “They are valued members of your community.”
Cal Burnton moved to the village 28 years ago for the schools, for the parks, for the downtown and because it was an affordable place to live. He did not put a lot of stock in the study.
“The village has a problem, it is not as affordable as it use to be," Burnton said. "Young people can’t afford to pay the taxes so they go to another community to live.”
“This particular plan is long on generalities and short on specifics,” Burnton said. “This report is so general it is impossible to make anything out of it.”
“I would ask you put this plan in the ‘good to know file,’” he said. “I ask you not adopt it. I ask you do not use it as a blueprint for the future.”
CMAP’s principal planner, Drew Williams-Clark, said the village has a choice to use the study as a tool.
“I understand residents' concerns,” Trustee Thomas Hayes said. “This is just a planning tool to use as we go on in the future. I think, rest assured, the village views it that way. We are very thankful to have this information.”
Trustee Carol Blackwood said the study has valuable information. “It’s just one more piece of the puzzle,” she said.