Helping our region thrive with affordable housing options

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) engages in local planning and policy work to encourage housing development that meets the needs of all our residents. Affordable housing — particularly rental options — are not available in all parts of the region, which creates a systemic imbalance between job centers and where people live. 

ON TO 2050, the long-range plan for northeastern Illinois, emphasizes the importance of having a variety of housing options. It also anticipates population shifts — like aging and larger immigrant populations — and the different housing needs that accompany these changes. ON TO 2050 recommends housing development strategies located near transit to support access to jobs, education, healthcare, and services.

Why the region should focus on affordable housing

Housing choices

The region struggles to supply enough good, affordable, and accessible housing that is connected to jobs and services. People in our region need more housing choices that meet their needs and preferences and are suited for an aging population, increasing diversity, and changing living patterns. This includes more high-quality rental housing, housing located near public transit, accessible housing for older residents and people with disabilities, and housing near job centers. 

Housing cost burden

More than 70 percent of northeastern Illinois residents are concerned about the cost and types of housing available. Thirty-six percent of households in the region are housing cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Black households are disproportionately housing cost-burdened, with more than 40 percent of their income spent on housing.

Housing readiness planning

CMAP and our regional partners are working with counties and communities to develop housing readiness plans that remove regulatory barriers which limit what types of housing can be built. For example, residential zoning regulations often only allow single-family homes or require large minimum lot sizes — these regulations prevent multifamily or smaller, more affordable homes from being built. Changing regulations is an important step toward meeting residents’ housing needs.

Town hall apartments

Fair housing and equity assessment

Communities with a well-balanced supply of housing choices enjoy many economic and quality of life benefits. CMAP partnered with the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance to produce the Fair housing and equity assessment: Metropolitan Chicago. A key takeaway is that housing is highly segregated by race, which has a negative impact on the regional economy. The report includes strategies that local governments can implement to encourage diversity and invest in disinvested communities.

Two people seated side by side on a chair, sharing a joyful moment with smiles and laughter.

Aging in place

The aging in place white paper focuses on how municipalities can support residents staying in their homes and communities as they grow older. Projections predict that older residents will make up a larger proportion of the national and regional population in the next few decades. These trends will impact transportation, housing, and infrastructure needs. Planning for an aging population is an investment in the wellbeing of the entire community, as it benefits people of all ages and abilities, creating healthy, sustainable places for all residents.