Affordability Gets a New Definition in Illinois

On Thursday, March 18, the Illinois Senate passed the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index Act, SB 374. We have been working with legislators since early 2009 to advance this landmark piece of legislation. The bill will now move to the House, which passed an identical bill last year with a near unanimous vote.

If passed, SB 374 (formerly known as SB 414) will ensure that five state agencies in Illinois take both housing and transportation costs as a benchmark for affordability into account when planning and making public investment decisions within Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Areas around the state.

The agencies that would use the standard are the Capital Development Board (CDB), the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) as well as the Illinois Housing Task Force and the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Transportation. These agencies can use the H+T Affordability Index as a planning tool and as a criterion in the allocation of public funding for transit, highways, economic development, and housing projects; the distribution of economic incentives to businesses and the siting of public facilities.

The passage of the bill comes just one week before CNT’s planned release of our H+T Index for 337 metropolitan regions in the U.S. (covering nearly 80% of the population) and as federal agencies move towards a definition of affordability that includes both transportation and housing costs. By implementing the Housing + Transportation Affordability Act, Illinois can provide a valuable example of how H+T data can move regions across the country towards more sustainable and equitable growth.