The State of Illinois Is Facing an
Affordable Housing Crisis
Moderate-Wage Earners Struggle.
A full-time worker in Illinois must earn $15.83 per hour in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent ($823). That means a minimum-wage earner would have to work over 120 per week to afford the fair market rent.
Over 25% of the State’s Households (Renters and Owners) Struggle to Find Affordable Housing.
Over 1 million Illinois households lack affordable housing because they pay more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage costs—that’s more than one-quarter of the state.
Getting Much Worse for Owners.
From 1990 to 2000, the state experienced a 38% increase in the number of "cost burdened" owners (households paying more than 35% of their income for ownership housing).
The Chicago Region in Particular Is Feeling the Pinch, and We’re All Bearing the Cost
Workers. A full-time worker in the Chicago region must earn $18.29 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. That means a minimum-wage earner would have to work over 140 hours per week to pay for rental housing. A household would have to earn even more to afford the average home in the region.
Home Prices Outpacing Incomes. The median home price in the Chicago region grew 37% between 1990 and 2001 while income increased by only 20%. In fact, median home values grew faster than incomes in all six Chicago-area counties between 1990 and 2000.
Renters and Homeowners Feel the Pinch.36% of renter households spend more than 30% of their income on rent, and about 24% of homeowners spend more than 30% of their income on mortgage costs.
The Surprising Facts about Affordable Housing
Surprise #1: You’ll never believe who needs affordable housing. Imagine a family: a mom, dad, two kids. Dad works in a printing factory and makes $15 an hour. This family won’t be able to afford an ordinary two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the Chicago area. Seniors whose only income is Social Security can’t afford apartments in countless communities.
A person needs to make more than $17 an hour to afford an average two-bedroom apartment. A minimum- wage worker would have to work at 3.5 jobs for 140 hours a week to get that apartment.
Surprise #2: Funny. It doesn’t look like affordable housing. Affordable housing has a new face. Just look at the pictures on these pages. Working with community leaders, architects, and landscape designers, today’s affordable housing is meant to blend in, to be as much a part of the community as the people who live in it.
Surprise #3: Johnny got all A’s and B’s.As the cost of housing goes up, working families on the edge have to move from place to place. That means kids moving from school to school to school. They suffer. Their education suffers. Affordable housing gives families stability and kids thrive.
Surprise #4: You won’t believe what my house sold for. Some people may think that mixed income housing has a negative effect on property values. But experience all across America has shown that not to be true. In many cases, property values for both houses and apartments have gone up as affordable housing is built.
Surprise #5: Am I the only one who thinks this is a great idea?We asked people all over the Chicago area how they felt about building affordable housing where they lived. Two-thirds of them said they supported more moderate- and low-income housing in their area. Even so, when affordable housing is proposed for a community, the few voices against can be pretty loud. So speak up and say "yes." Affordable housing is worth fighting for.