ST. CHARLES – The amount of affordable housing in St. Charles continues to grow, according to data from the city and state.
City staff last fall conducted its annual housing affordability analysis of the city’s housing stock. Staff has been doing the analysis since 2009 to track St. Charles’ housing affordability status, city planner Ellen Johnson said.
According to city staff, 23.7 percent of the city’s housing stock is affordable, based on data from 2017. That is an increase from the previous finding of 22.3 percent. Johnson said the increase can at least partially be attributed to an increase in area median income.
Staff has determined that 3,293 of the city’s 13,909 housing units are affordable. And more affordable housing units will be built in St. Charles as a result of new development.
“The Prairie Centre development is going to be incorporating about 75 affordable senior units in the Anthony Place project,” Johnson said. “Those units haven’t been built yet, so none of those new units are reflected in the numbers.”
Anthony Place is part of the 670-unit Prairie Centre development that is being built on the site of the former St. Charles Mall. To be considered affordable, housing costs cannot exceed 30 percent of gross annual household income.
According to city staff, the maximum affordable monthly payment for an owner-occupied home is $1,693, which is based on a median household income of $84,625 for a four-person household.
The state’s Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act requires communities to have a housing stock comprised of at least 10 percent affordable units, Johnson said. A community is exempt from the act if it has more than 10 percent affordable units and nonexempt if they are below 10 percent.
Nonexempt communities must submit an affordable housing plan to the Illinois Housing Development Authority and are subject to appeals from affordable housing developers who feel they have been treated unfairly by the municipality, Johnson said.
The city’s affordable housing stock is scattered throughout the community, she said. It includes buildings such as the 108-unit Carroll Tower senior housing complex in downtown St. Charles and 10 units in the Fox Run Apartments complex near Randall Road.
Last month, the Illinois Housing Development Authority released an updated listing of each community’s affordable housing share. The agency determined 17.1 percent of the city’s housing stock was affordable, up from 11.2 percent in 2013.
The discrepancy is because the state in 2013 changed its methodology for determining each community’s affordable housing share. For example, city staff uses local township assessor data to determine the assessed market value of owner-occupied homes in St. Charles and actual collected rents from each apartment complex in the city.
“But they’re both trending the same way,” Johnson noted.
The state uses 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates to determine home prices and rents. According to numbers from the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act, St. Charles has more affordable housing than surrounding communities.
According to the AHPAA, 17.1 percent of the city’s housing stock is affordable, compared with 7.7 percent of the housing stock in Geneva and 14.8 percent of the housing stock in Batavia. With a population of 32,745, St. Charles is the biggest of the three communities.
The city requires developers of new residential developments to build a proportionate share of affordable housing units on-site, or to pay a fee in lieu of providing affordable units. The current fee is $36,409.75, calculated as the cost of a 25 percent down payment for one affordable unit priced at $145,639, which was the affordable home price for St. Charles set in the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s 2013 AHPAA report.
At the city’s Jan. 14 Planning and Development Committee meeting, aldermen recommended increasing the fee to $39,665.75 to reflect the new affordable home price for St. Charles set in the authority’s 2018 AHPAA report, which is $158,663. The full City Council is set to vote on the fee increase at its Jan. 22 meeting.
“The city has had that ordinance in place since 2008 in an effort to increase or at least maintain our affordable housing stock,” Johnson said.