Much-needed affordable housing units will be coming to Highland Park later this year, as part of a long-standing working relationship between the city and a nonprofit housing organization.
The grant agreement between the Highland Park Community Land Trust program and Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) for this year’s scattered-site affordable housing plan was approved by the city’s Housing Commission on Feb. 7.
The grant from the Community Land Trust (CLT) provides 20% of CPAH’s bid, or $255,000, for the organization to purchase, rehabilitate and sell three single-family homes.
CPAH President Rob Anthony said CPAH has been working with the city since 2004 to develop more affordable housing. Anthony added that the city typically supports three CLT homes a year, but sometimes CPAH takes five homes or focuses on rental units, depending on the market.
Housing construction across Lake County overall, especially affordable housing, is lagging behind population growth, which could lead to a significant housing shortage by 2027, according to a housing study commissioned by Lake County Partners last year.
Additionally, 15 Lake County municipalities, including Highland Park, were identified by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IDHA) as having critical affordable housing shortages.
Homes purchased by CPAH are typically three-bedroom, single-family homes and will be sold only to households earning less than 80% of the area median income, or about $88,250 for a family of four.
Highland Park’s median household income is estimated to be over $147,000, according to the CPAH plan submitted to Highland Park.
The target audience for CPAH homes are low-income and rental residents, regional workers who cannot afford to live locally, single-parent households, large families, people with disabilities, and families at risk of losing their housing for personal reasons. or economic hardship.
Current CPAH residents include local retail staff, nonprofit workers, teacher assistants, healthcare workers, child care providers, city workers, people with disabilities, the elderly, and other low-wage individuals in the public and private sectors.
The project’s estimated timeline calls for the three residential units to be purchased by June 2024, with the rehabilitation and sale to be completed by December 2024. The nonprofit also plans to break ground on eight new townhomes in Highland Park in the spring.
Anthony said the organization has not yet identified the properties to be purchased, but they could be anywhere within Highland Park boundaries.
“What we traditionally do is look for some of the worst properties in the community because we provide the dual benefit of improving the housing stock and cleaning up the properties,” Anthony said.
But limited existing housing stock due to high interest rates on new mortgages makes it difficult to find homes at the price point CPAH needs to keep homes affordable, Anthony said.
To date, CPAH has purchased and rehabilitated 71 units of affordable housing in Highland Park through the Community Land Trust Program.
“The Community Land Trust model is really effective at giving renters the opportunity to buy at a lower cost and build wealth and equity through home ownership,” Anthony said.
The Highland Park Community Land Trust was developed in response to community concerns about the lack of affordable housing and how this lack could negatively impact inclusionary practices.
The CLT model helps use public input, along with other donations and grants collected by CPAH, to purchase homes to be sold to low-income families. To maintain a permanent infrastructure of affordable housing, homes can only be sold to other low-income families or sold back to CPAH.
Anthony said it takes a lot of funding to make a home affordable, especially in a community with high home and land values like Highland Park.
“The benefit to society is that (a city) makes a one-time investment to make a home affordable,” Anthony said. “We are building an affordable housing infrastructure in Highland Park that will remain affordable forever.”
Anthony said it may be difficult to get major upfront support from local governments for the CLT program, but in the long run it is one of the most cost-effective affordable housing models.
To ensure long-term homeownership stability, CPAH requires all homebuyers to complete pre-purchase education and counseling to prepare for responsible homeownership. Additionally, the nonprofit offers classes on home maintenance, finance and other related topics to help residents succeed.