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State of Illinois

Affordable Housing Advocates Want $1bn From Capital Plan

State Rep. Delia Ramirez says she's seeing longtime neighbors being forced out by gentrification.
State Rep. Delia Ramirez says she's seeing longtime neighbors being forced out by gentrification.

Affordable-housing advocates are joining the chorus calling on Illinois lawmakers to approve an infrastructure plan.

Brian Mackey reports.

Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed a $41.5 billion construction plan. The vast majority of that money is for roads, with just $157 million — less than half a percent — earmarked for affordable housing.

Advocates say while they appreciate the gesture, that’s not nearly enough.

Bob Colvin works in economic development in the east-central Illinois town of Paris.

“We’ve been very successful at growing industry in Paris, and then we hit a roadblock,” he said Tuesday. “And that roadblock was affordable, entry-level, workforce housing.”

Bob Colvin says affordable housing was key to the expansion of manufacturing jobs in the small town of Paris, Illinois.
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
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Bob Colvin says affordable housing was key to the expansion of manufacturing jobs in the small town of Paris, Illinois.

Colvin said affordable housing convinced manufacturing employers, like North American Lighting, to expand in Paris. He said previous housing developments drew three applications for every vacancy.

Advocates also say more affordable housing could help address homelessness and gentrification.

State Rep. Delia Ramirez, a Democrat from Chicago, said she’s seeing neighbors forced out.

“Rapid gentrification is displacing longtime residents — like Rosita, like Juan, like so many people — who just want to be able to continue to live, and maybe retire, in the neighborhood that they’ve called home their entire life,” Ramirez said.

They’re asking Pritzker set aside $1 billion for affordable housing — a sixfold increase.

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