Glenview took the first steps toward creating a comprehensive plan that would serve as a guiding document for the village over the next few decades.
One issue — access to affordable housing — seems to keep cropping up.
Access to affordable housing needs a place in the comprehensive plan, absolutely, as a goal of the village at large and even within some sections of the document dealing with housing development and zoning.
Based on other recently adopted comprehensive plans in neighboring communities, this document can be a guiding, visioning document as village trustees make decisions in the years to come.
A comprehensive plan can be used to guide decisions not only for specific things, such as general zoning and land use policy, but can serve to reflect current and even aspirational goals and values of community members.
Someone once told me to ignore the speeches of politicians. They said if you really want to know what they believe in, look at the budget. This can also be said for the comprehensive plan.
The plan can ask, what do we in Glenview believe in, and, are you willing to go on the record with it.
This is your town and you, the residents, business people, workers and others should attend workshops the village calls “charrettes” to give your input on what you think are important issues, values, goals and best practices for Glenview.
Village trustees, commissioners and staffers have no problem mandating color schemes, stacking, setbacks for major residential developments, but have rarely, if ever, asked a developer, “How many affordable units are in this development?”
The state requires 10% of a community’s housing stock be considered affordable, through a complex equation that comes down to working people able to afford to rent or buy property without the majority of their paychecks going to those housing payments.
In Glenview, 7.4% of the housing stock is considered affordable.
The village has supported affordable senior housing projects such as Patten House, but those offer few units and only to seniors.
Last month, trustees submitted a plan to the state for how to reach 10% affordable housing.
That plan did not include building affordable housing or requiring builders to set aside a percentage of their housing as affordable, but detailed four things out of eight possible in the state’s requirements that have been offered to Glenview developers in the past. Those four items were not mandated, but were possible because there was precedent.
This plan seems to give the state the minimum required by law and would seem to do little to get the village to 10% anytime soon.
Discussing the issue, Village Manager Todd Hileman said specific, inclusionary zoning regarding affordable housing is not the kind of thing you include in a comprehensive plan.
Based on other comprehensive plans, general goals that reflect the values of the community are things to include — including goals related to affordable housing.
Northbrook’s comprehensive plan includes a general statement in its “Neighborhoods, Housing & Community Diversity” section that does not get into specific zoning, but says, “Consider options for development of new and innovative housing styles and other creative responses to Northbrook’s housing needs for affordability, variety, and housing that is appropriate for different ages and family types.”
Wilmette’s 2000 comprehensive plan addressed affordable housing more specifically: “Two continuing housing issues are: (1) the availability of decent, safe, and reasonably affordable housing for elderly and low and moderate income households and (2) whether an appropriate range of housing options is available to the village’s senior citizens.” It sets as a goal to, “Foster a climate for equal housing opportunities.”
Aspirational goals, such as that expressed in Northbrook’s comprehensive plan, or an acknowledgement that improvement in the amount of affordable housing needed as in Wilmette’s comprehensive plan, can and should be included in Glenview’s plan.
Groups within the community such as Glenview Community Church and League of Women Voters of Glenview have expressed support for policies that support affordable housing. Those groups should continue to speak up and make those values known as the public input process for Glenview’s comprehensive plan continues.
So why is affordable housing important?
One Glenview resident once said, something close to, “If you can’t afford it (to live in Glenview), you don’t deserve it.”
Surely, there are some in the village that hold this view.
The value in having an affordable housing stock is in having a truly diverse community.
Glenview is somewhat ethnically and religiously diverse, but is hardly economically diverse.
There are residents on the lower end of the economic spectrum sitting in Glenview’s classrooms, but they are not as much the norm as in other neighboring districts and many live in unincorporated areas outside the village not served by Glenview schools.
As children sit in class, they discuss their lessons and look at history through the prism of their experience.
How do those discussions go when there are few in the classroom who have been in a position where their families have struggled to make ends meet?
Most of our high school students will go on to college and many of them will become leaders.
How would those leaders relate to those under them if they do not have a concept of the struggles their colleagues face?
True, Glenbrook South students do go into Chicago’s inner city neighborhoods and volunteer for service hours and that is a great thing. But that is a far cry from having a best friend who comes from a very different economic status, knowing their family, their struggles and sitting at the dinner table with them. The place that is most likely to happen is within a community.