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Landmark State Legislation Will Create Affordable Housing Incentives

This post was originally featured on Housing Action Illinois’ blog. Housing Action Illinois is a critical voice in advocating for affordable housing in Illinois. MPC was proud to partner with them and other organizations noted below on provisions in HB2621, which passed the legislature on Monday, May 31.

Chicago — On Monday, May 31, the Illinois General Assembly passed major omnibus legislation, House Bill 2621, to increase the supply of affordable housing across the state. The bill creates new resources to finance the development of affordable rental housing and establishes property tax policies to support owners of rental housing to invest in their properties and keep rents affordable. It also strengthens existing state law requiring communities with very small stocks of affordable housing to develop plans to remedy this shortage. The legislation passed both the House and Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support.

“Illinois has a severe shortage of affordable housing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the number of people facing housing insecurity,” stated State Senator Sara Feigenholtz in a May 30 press release on the legislation. “As of 2019, Illinois was short nearly 108,000 rental homes individuals earning 60% of their local area median income could afford. In Chicago, this is about $56,000 for a family of four. By offering tax incentives, we will be able to keep families together, in their homes and in their communities.”

Key provisions of HB 2621 include:

“The provisions in the bill will help reduce Illinois’ significant shortage of affordable rental housing and provide tools to preserve affordable housing in communities where it’s being lost due to increasing rents and property values,” explained Bob Palmer, Policy Director of Housing Action Illinois.

“This policy is a one-stop-shop to address affordable rental needs in both higher cost and lower cost neighborhoods,” said Stacie Young, Director of the Preservation Compact, in the press release from the office of Sen. Feigenholtz.

Other provisions in the omnibus legislation include:

Housing Action Illinois and our allies are grateful to our champions in the General Assembly, including Senators Mattie Hunter, Ann Gillespie and Sara Feigenholtz, as well as Representatives Will Guzzardi, Delia Ramirez, Curtis Tarver and Mike Zalewski. We also thank all the legislators who co-sponsored various versions of the bills that wound up in the omnibus.

We are also grateful for our partners, including Community Investment Corporation, Enterprise Community Partners, Illinois Housing Council and Metropolitan Planning Council.

Many other groups, elected officials and government agencies also supported, including Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the City of Chicago Department of Housing.

We urge Governor Pritzker to sign HB 2621 into law as soon as possible.

Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois, has almost 30 years experience in housing organizing, advocacy, training, and finance. He has spearheaded successful campaigns to create and fund a state rental subsidy program for extremely low-income households, secure money for affordable housing in Illinois’ capital budget for the first time, pass state legislation protecting homeowners and renters during the foreclosure process, and protect state funding for homeless service providers.