Changes in demographics and consumer behavior are transforming the types, locations, and price points of people’s housing preferences. Evidenced in the earlier chart showing the proportion of permitted new housing units in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area by units in structure, the region is changing from building mostly single-family detached units to an equal balance of the multi-unit developments. This change is occurring in many parts of the region — not just the City of Chicago — reflecting the demand for more housing options. To prepare for continued shifts, communities should be planning for future housing needs. By forging consensus on which housing types should be developed locally, communities may avoid the contentiousness that can ensue when the public reviews a specific development proposal that has caught residents by surprise. Such planning can also help local leaders understand the relationship between community desires and market realities. And especially when the plans cross jurisdictions, they can help multiple communities come together to create unified responses to mutual challenges. The recently developed Regional Housing Solutions website provides local stakeholders with proven market-specific tools to address pressing local housing issues.{{Regional Housing Solutions, 2017,}}

Yet planning alone is not enough. Meeting regulatory requirements is often a sequential process, with the cost of each added step driving up home prices. Through zoning, entitlement processes, and building codes and inspections, municipalities’ and counties’ choices shape the types of housing that can be built and preserved. These and other regulations can limit housing options that the market might otherwise provide. Sometimes these effects are the intentional or necessary results of community health and safety regulations or the outcomes of an established local vision. But in many cases, the regulatory barriers are unintentional and have consequences that the community does not desire. To gain the full benefit of good planning, communities must align zoning codes, entitlement processes, and potentially building codes and inspection processes with the local vision established through good planning.

Action 1

Plan for future housing needs, and in doing so, considering how demographics and consumer preferences may create the need for a greater range of housing types. After establishing that housing vision, align local zoning, entitlements, and building code content and processes to promote that vision.


Local governments

Action 2

Investigate prevalent local building code amendments and code enforcement processes that impede development of a range of housing types.


CMAP, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and the Metropolitan Planning Council

Action 3

Help communities create local housing plans and align them with zoning, entitlement, and building code content and processes, including across jurisdictions when possible.


CMAP, in partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the Metropolitan Planning Council