Housing Commission Makes Recommendation For 5th Avenue

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The Housing Advisory Commission recently recommended that 20% of housing in the 5th Avenue Redevelopment Project be affordable housing.

Naperville City Council discussed that suggestion at its latest meeting.

“This is a way to make up some of that gap, 20%,” said Councilwoman Becky Anderson. “This is just a rare opportunity because we all own this property. We own this land. And this is where we can make a difference.”

Only 7.5% of Naperville Homes are “Affordable Housing”

The Illinois Housing Development Authority mandates that 10% of housing be classed as affordable using a metric involving average median income and property tax for the Chicago metropolitan area. City staff said Naperville’s large amount of high-valued homes skews the average property tax higher, meaning many homes in Naperville that would be considered affordable in other communities aren’t classed that way here.

Nevertheless, council agreed that Naperville could improve its base of affordable housing and the 5th Avenue project would be a good place to start.

A Unique Location

“This is an incredible location of amenities that are already right there for whatever age group you are,” said Councilwoman Rebecca Boyd-Obarski. “This is ideally located. And also because this is an opportunity to make a statement.”

Several public speakers cited the importance of affordable housing in this project due to its proximity to the Naperville Metra station.

Councilman John Krummen said he’d like to see an ordinance requiring all future housing developments of a certain size to include at least 10% of affordable housing.

Too Early to Decide?

While all agreed 20% is an admirable target for the project, some on the dais weren’t as willing to tie the project to a specific number at this stage.

“I’m not ready necessarily to commit to the legal definition of affordability right now at 20, but I’m very much supportive of having this project be highly attainable to modest earners and have that direction given to the developer,” said Councilman Kevin Coyne.

“If 20% affordable is what’s decided on today before we start to weigh all the other community benefits that we have to look at, at some point this is going to be a math problem,” said Mayor Steve Chirico. “And we don’t even know these numbers so this is crazy to be assigning this today, in my view.”

Council eventually decided to ask staff to come back with language that would make 20% affordable housing an official goal for the project.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.