A report on population growth trends and housing-market impacts in the Chicago metropolitan area projects that about one quarter of the region’s residents will cut back on food, clothing, medical and other expenses because they are paying too much for housing and housing-related costs.

The study, “Homes for a Changing Region,” traces the impact of population growth through 2030 on the area’s housing market. Chicago Metropolis 2020, formed by The Commercial Club of Chicago to promote economic growth in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area, and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, which represents communities in this region, collaborated on the report.

Other projections in the report:

  • Regional commuting times, already second longest in the nation, will increase as will air pollution. Longer commutes also mean employees on the job will be more stressed and parents will have less time to spend with their children, according to the report.

  • The Chicago region will be a less desirable place for new and expanding businesses. Faced with an inability to find and retain a quality workforce, employers will locate their operations in other more competitive locations.

  • The region could consume an additional 60,000 acres for development unless more compact and varied housing types are built.

The report notes that the Chicago region’s population is growing older and more diverse, with changing housing needs. “Regional leaders must make sure that the type of housing being planned and built is the housing that families will want and be able to afford,” the report states.

The Chicago region’s population is predicted to increase by 24 percent from 8.1 million in 2000 to 10 million by 2030. The report’s projections indicate that there will be a mismatch in housing supply and housing needs, with too many large-lot, costly single-family homes and too few small-lot, affordable single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums.

Latinos, African-Americans and seniors over the age of 65 will account for most of the region’s population growth, and the types of housing chosen by those groups today is much different than the housing now being planned, constructed and rehabilitated, according to an announcement about the report.

The Mayors Caucus and Chicago Metropolis 2020 propose some actions to eliminate the projected housing mismatch, among them:

  • The formulation of multiyear housing plans that provide for a broad range of housing by size and price point to meet the needs of all community residents.

  • The review and modification of zoning and building codes to permit the construction of a variety of housing types.

  • The inclusion of residents in housing and development decisions and the use of local housing commissions to consider ways to provide housing options for all types of residents.

  • The creation of sub-regional housing plans that would involve groups of municipalities and help local leaders to serve the overall needs of all communities in a sub-region.

  • The creation of new revenue streams to support the preservation and construction of affordable housing.

“The mayors of our region recognize that the future will not be like the past,” David Bennett, executive director of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, said in a statement. “They understand the critical role that public policy plays in introducing more variety into the housing marketplace. Several communities in the region are already fostering the creation of more balanced housing options, and others are likely to follow.”

And King Harris, a senior executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020, stated, “Housing choices in the Chicago region have become increasingly constrained. Our region will become less attractive to the business community and to our workforce if we continue to limit the range of available housing whether by type, price or location.”

A panel of experts will discuss the “Homes for a Changing Region” report today at The Standard Club in Chicago. The panelists will include: David Brint, CEO of Brinshore Development, Northbrook; Illinois state Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, R-Glenview, member of the House Committee on Aging; Sylvia Puente, director, Metropolitan Chicago Initiative, Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame; and Ed Schock, mayor of the City of Elgin, Ill.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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