Even though it has had 18 months to do so, River Forest has failed to provide a state housing agency with a plan on how it intends to increase the amount of affordable housing in the community.

The village received an initial notification from the Illinois Housing Development Authority in December 2013 that the number of affordable units in the community was less than 10 percent. 

That figure triggered a requirement that the community file a plan on how that would be remedied. It had until June 2, 2015 to comply; at least two reminders were sent to the village, a spokesman for IHDA said. 

River Forest was also notified that the Non-Exempt Local Government Handbook would provide information regarding their need to come into compliance.  

At the time when the law regarding affordable housing was adopted in 2004, River Forest was in compliance. Just 172 of the community’s 3,886 housing units, or 4.4 percent, are considered affordable. 

The Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act, in part, was adopted to identify communities with an acute shortage of affordable housing stock, including single-family homes, condominiums or apartments. 

Housing is defined as affordable if a homeowner pays no more than 30 percent of the gross annual household income toward mortgage, amortization, taxes, insurance, and condominium or association fees. The same applies to renters, except that no more than 30 percent of the gross annual household income can go toward rent and utilities. 

To determine if a community complied, IHDA used U.S. Census Bureau data and calculated the number of units based, in part, on the median household income in a county or primary metropolitan statistical area.  

In Cook County, where River Forest is located, the median household income is $61,045. That would mean affordable monthly rent in the community is somewhere between $750 and $999. A calculation of affordable homeownership is based on real estate taxes, interest rates and other factors. 

An IHDA spokesman stated that River Forest and other non-exempt communities can select one of three goals options for increasing local affordable housing stock:

Have a minimum of 15 percent of all new development or redevelopment within the local government defined as affordable.

Increase by a minimum of a 3 percentage points the overall percentage of affordable housing within its jurisdiction. 

Establish a minimum total of 10 percent of affordable housing within its jurisdiction.

One opportunity to add to its affordable housing stock slipped away earlier this year when River Forest trustees approved an application for construction of Promenade Townhouses on Madison Street. There was no mention about affordable housing during hearings before the Development Review Board or at the board table. 

One other prospect is Lake and Lathrop. The village selected Keystone Ventures to redevelop the site; so far there has been no progress on the sale and no plans have yet been submitted. A third opportunity is at the village-owned parcel at Lake and Park. Determination of a firm with whom to negotiate a development agreement is still under review.

 Village officials said that compliance is still being reviewed. Village Administrator Eric Palm noted “the village will be working to verify that we are indeed non-exempt from the IHDA’s affordable housing act. Once we have confirmed that data, and we require a plan, we will work at fulfilling our obligation.”

Village President Catherine Adduci said in an email, “We need to understand if we are non-exempt or not. We need to verify the data with IHDA. There really is no other statement at this juncture to comment on or release.”

Sixty-eight towns were required in 2015 to submit plans to IDHA by June 2. By that date, 40 had not, including River Forest, Western Springs, La Grange, Burr Ridge, Elmhurst, Glencoe, Naperville, Morton Grove, Wilmette and Winnetka.

This story has been updated to clarify how the Illinois Housing Development Authority determines median income for communities.

Join the discussion on social media!

2 replies on “State agency: River Forest needs affordable housing plan”