19092018 JM0853ROCKFORD – In her second stop on a state-wide tour, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) convened the Senate Special Committee on Housing Wednesday to look for ways to create, promote and develop affordable housing opportunities for communities in Rockford and Winnebago County. 

“The demand for affordable housing in Rockford and throughout the state is great,” Hunter said. “It’s more important than ever to create affordable housing opportunities in order to boost economic mobility, reduce poverty and homelessness, improve health outcomes and strengthen the economy.”

Hunter is looking to make low-income housing in Rockford more affordable by lifting the state’s ban on rent control. Currently, Illinois is one of 35 states across the country with a rent control ban.

Hunter discussed a bill she has in the Illinois Senate which aims at lifting that ban, which has been in place since 1997 to prevent state and city governments from enacting any measure that would regulate or control rent prices on private residential or commercial property.

Hunter’s measure would establish elected rent control boards in six regions. The boards would regulate rent for households of specified income levels and could restrict annual rent increases to the rate of inflation. They could also create rules on how much notice must be given before rent is increased and would oversee the creation of a reserve account for landlords to pay for repairs and capital improvements.

“Lifting the state rent control ban is only one of the options that we’re pursuing,” Hunter said. “We’re on this statewide tour because it’s important to bring everybody to the table, so we can come up with solutions to this crisis.”

Representatives from the Winnebago Housing Authority, Rockford Apartment Association, Lift the Ban Coalition, Zion Development Corporation and Illinois Realtors were available to provide testimony.

The discussion touched on how rent control can be used as a tool to support rent burdened households. According to Lift the Ban Coalition, 37.2 percent of Rockford households and 44 percent of Winnebago County households are rent burdened, meaning that they are spending more than 30 percent of household income on rent.

On the other side, Rockford realtors pointed out that lifting the rent control ban could result in landlords being unable to raise rents to keep up with rising maintenance costs and higher property taxes.

“Our goal with this hearing was to gather as much information as we can to help us address the issues of lack of affordable housing and rising rent prices,” Hunter said. “We all want quality communities where people can live and enjoy life. I look forward to continuing this discussion so we can reach that goal.”

Hunter’s next legislative hearing on this issue is 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 1601 N. LaSalle St., Chicago. The discussion will focus on the rent control ban. 

Category: News

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