Anticipated federal grant requirements will provide incentives for municipalities to plan for future housing needs

Anticipated federal grant requirements will provide incentives for municipalities to plan for future housing needs 

Local planning for livability and balanced housing gets a boost through new tools and data from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance 

Chicago, February 27, 2014 – Local governments in metropolitan Chicago can get a leg up on pending requirements for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant recipients engaged in community-based planning to address foreclosures, inadequate housing supply, and sustainable development. 

Two regional organizations have partnered to produce tools that will help municipalities and counties capitalize on -- and avoiding being surprised by -- the federal changes expected to take place in the coming months.  A new report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA) describes far-reaching livability benefits for communities that plan for a range of housing options. The organizations will continue to collaborate on additional resources and training workshops throughout 2014 that will help local governments adapt to the recently proposed HUD regulation changes.

"Our efforts with CAFHA provide a suite of resources that will help this region's municipalities and counties get out in front of these new data-driven HUD requirements," said CMAP executive director Randy Blankenhorn.  "While the specifics aren't yet known, HUD's new requirements will be a 'statutory obligation' that current and future housing grant recipients must meet.  We're hopeful that our analysis and tools will turn this challenge into an opportunity for communities across the region to enhance the resilience and quality of their housing."

The anticipated HUD changes will clarify requirements that grant recipients "affirmatively further" fair housing via policies and planning.  The CMAP and CAFHA Fair Housing and Equity Assessment: Metropolitan Chicago report (along with relevant maps and charts) is at The report finds that communities with a well-balanced supply of housing enjoy many economic and social benefits as a result. By channeling resources in ways that expand housing options, according to the report, the region will see a more balanced tax revenue stream; an easing of unsustainable development; greater opportunity for regional collaboration, especially related to infrastructure development; enhanced efficiencies in government; and an overall strengthening of global competitiveness. 

The report recommends that local governments: 

  • Develop municipal community relations commissions.
  • Encourage accessible and supportive housing.
  • Support community-based organizations.
  • Plan with existing residents for redevelopment.
  • Assess zoning and code enforcement.
  • Improve infrastructure and transit service.

As a recipient of HUD funds for its Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, CMAP was required by the Department to prepare the report. The comprehensive regional planning agency teamed up with CAFHA, a consortium of advocacy organizations, local governments, and other agencies committed to fair housing and diverse, sustainable communities.  The report's recommendations and data on access to opportunity -- the intertwined nature of housing, economic development, transportation, and access to regional resources and amenities -- can help other HUD grant recipients navigate the new federal requirements and serve as a starting point for policy formation and future planning. CMAP and CAFHA will also release a Model Fair Housing Ordinance and Housing Planning and Policy Toolkit as additional resources in late 2014. 

HUD recently announced in the Federal Register its intent to institute a "fair housing assessment and planning process" to provide its grant recipients with "more effective means to affirmatively further the purposes and policies of the Fair Housing Act" in 2014. According to HUD, the Fair Housing Act "not only prohibits discrimination but, in conjunction with other statutes, directs HUD's program participants to take steps proactively to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities for all."  HUD is promising to provide data that will help grantees evaluate current conditions, identify factors that drive those conditions, and establish priorities and goals for fair housing.

The GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan highlights the importance of livable, sustainable communities on the region's economy vitality. Communities without diverse housing options, including senior housing and multifamily rentals, are likely to see negative impacts on their local economies and educational outcomes, as well as inefficient land use and transportation. Through its LTA program, CMAP has helped dozens of communities plan for a well-balanced future housing stock via comprehensive plan updates and Homes for a Changing Region plans.

"Housing greatly impacts local economies and access to amenities and jobs. Many communities want to offer their residents a wider range of housing options but don't know where to start," said CAFHA executive director Morgan Davis.  "New data from the Fair Housing and Equity Assessment, with more resources to come from CMAP and CAFHA, can help officials make informed decisions on how to plan for future housing and overall quality of life."

Through CMAP's Local Ordinances and Toolkits program, the agencies will develop a Model Fair Housing Ordinance and hold training workshops for local government officials to learn about using the model ordinance and meeting new HUD requirements. Following its completion, communities can also apply for assistance to implement a fair housing ordinance via CMAP's LTA program. 

An additional resource underway is a Housing Planning and Policy Toolkit, which will help communities create their own Homes for a Changing Region plans. Since 2011, CMAP, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC) have helped numerous "clusters" of neighboring communities draft long-range housing plans. The plans chart future housing supply and demand trends with local and subregional policy and strategic recommendations to support a balanced, sustainable future housing supply with targeted goals for communities to evaluate their progress. The toolkit's development will be funded through a National Foreclosure Settlement grant allocated by the Illinois Attorney General to CMAP, MPC, and MMC.

To share best practices or assist in the production of these two toolkits, communities may contact CMAP senior planner Kendra Smith (312-386-8774 or CMAP's Housing Committee, which includes representatives from public, private, and civic sectors, will help review and provide input on the toolkits as they are drafted over the course of 2014.