Saying the state is the midst of an affordable housing crisis, one lawmaker has introduced legislation that aims to boost low-cost rental units by offering a tax credit.
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat, is chief sponsor of the measure. “This a bill that essentially attempts to address an issue that's happening not only in the city, but statewide, which is affordable housing. There's a crisis in the state,” she said.
Under her plan, a landlord could get a building's property valuation reduced by 35 percent for a decade in return for leasing at least 35 percent of the rental units at an affordable rate. A 15 percent boost would mean a 25 percent decrease in property valuation.
To qualify for the incentive, landlords would need to keep share of their housing at or below 60 percent what is deemed affordable through area median income. For instance, in the Chicago metropolitan area, a family of four with a $50,760 income would be eligible for a two-bedroom apartment with a rent cap at $1,143, according to a fact sheet about the measure.
The measure would go into effect immediately in Cook County, but counties throughout the state could choose to opt in.
Feigenholtz said, “When you have developments and investments displacing families and all of the dynamic growth that we're seeing… What happens is families are unable to find affordable housing in these quickly gentrifying neighborhoods where they've lived and worked for generations.
A spokesman for the Illinois Realtors’ association says the organization is still reviewing the measure, but finds the approach preferable to other options.
Jon Broadbooks, a spokesman for the association wrote in an email:
"This bill appears to be one such proactive effort. Attention to tax credit programs, zoning and even construction codes can make any community more welcoming for developers who want to provide affordable housing.
"Rent control would reduce the number of affordable housing options because many property owners would be forced to convert rental units to condos. In addition, developers would shun any area with rent control because it would be impossible to gain a fair return on an investment. Property owners under rent control would be squeezed between a cap on what they can charge on one hand, and utility, tax and operating costs which will outpace what they can charge on the other hand."