City safety inspectors find hundreds of fire hazards and safety violations in fraternities and sororities at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign each year, yet it can take months before some violations are corrected, inspection documents show.
By Robert Holly/CU-CitizenAccess.org — The Housing Authority of Champaign County started opening up parts of its public housing waiting list at the beginning of August, and it is now accepting housing applications for elderly one-bedroom apartments and family five-bedroom apartments. But its housing choice voucher waiting list – also known as Section 8 housing – remains closed with no openings in sight. “We don’t have any anticipation on when section 8 will open again,” said Edward Bland, the Housing Authority’s executive director. The vouchers can be used for renting housing from approved landlords. There are about 400 individuals currently on the waiting list for housing choice vouchers.
By Robert Holly/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Thousands of low-income families and individuals across Illinois continue to wait for different forms of affordable housing to be provided by public housing authorities. In all likelihood, many of these people will keep waiting for years to come, as it takes some authorities anywhere from five to 10 years to completely turn over their waiting lists. During their wait, some might salvage a small amount of consolation in knowing they are not alone. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people also seekiing affordable housing wait with them. In fact, an article published in The New York Times this week reported that there are more than 220,000 individuals and families waiting for public housing assistance in New York City alone.
A report out this week showed that home sales across the nation have reached a five-year high, and the state of Illinois is no exception. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors, home sales increased 14.9 percent over the previous year, with 15,268 homes sold in June 2013, up from 13,286 in June 2012. But the rising mortgage rates are causing some to question whether this trend will continue. Below is a roundup of recent articles about the current state of the housing market and some predictions about the future.
New home sales hit five-year high, prices soar – Reuters
“New U.S. home sales vaulted to a five-year high in June, showing no signs of slowing in the face of higher mortgage rates.”
Two Years of Illinois Home Sales Gains: Realtors’ Group – Illinois Public Media
“Sales of existing homes in Illinois were up 14.9% in June from previous year levels, and median home prices increased 9.7% —- according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.
Illinois public housing authorities are responsible for providing affordable housing to low-income residents located within their district. Some authorities – such as the housing authority in Champaign – serve an entire county. Others – such as The East St. Louis Housing Authority – are charged with only serving a city.
Public housing authorities are responsible for supplying affordable homes to their community’s population of low-income residents. The Housing Authority of Champaign County’s mission statement, for example, is to provide “quality, safe and affordable housing to the citizens of Champaign County.”
To do so, authorities receive millions of dollars from HUD to build homes and create programs that will put poor people in affordable homes.
Linda Tortorelli recently faced the challenge of finding affordable housing for her 23-year-old son, Patrick, in Champaign. Her task was complicated by the fact Patrick has Smith-Magenis syndrome, a rare chromosomal condition that causes behavioral disorders.
Because her son qualified for government assistance under a federal housing voucher program, Tortorelli called the Housing Authority of Champaign County to seek a voucher that would allow him to live in an apartment of his own.
Officials at The Housing Authority of Champaign County are enthusiastic about the potential of the Moving to Work program, which gives it leeway on how to spend federal money and pushes residents to get jobs and education. But, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), watchdog for the U.S. Congress, criticized the program in 2011, saying housing officials have no effective way of measuring the program’s success. “In most cases, the practices chosen were based on the opinions of HUD or contracted staff and largely involved anecdotal (or qualitative) data rather than quantitative data,” the report said. The report also said the lack of evaluation methods based on hard data could impact the program’s ability to learn from its mistakes. Consequently, “It is limited in its ability to promote useful practices that could be implemented more broadly.”
To improve the program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), GAO recommended that it improve reporting on its performance, develop a plan for analyzing data, set performance indicators and verify the accuracy of self-reported anecdotal information.
The owner of an apartment building between Thomasboro and Rantoul did not attend a meeting of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals last week, clearing the way for the building to possibly be torn down. Rick Stone, president of K&S Property Management, Champaign, which owns the structure commonly called the Jones building, was not present, and the Zoning Board of Appeals dismissed the zoning request. Stone had asked that the property be rezoned from A-1 (agriculture) to R-4 (multi-family) so that the building could be renovated and again rented out to tenants. The building, which sits on a 1.5-acre tract, is located directly east of the also-closed Cherry Orchard apartment complex, next to U.S. 45. Stone evidently knew he would have a difficult time convincing the county to rezone the property because both the village of Rantoul and Rantoul Township had filed petitions of protest to the rezoning request.
A petition to rezone a closed apartment complex between Thomasboro and Rantoul remains on the agenda of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals. John Hall, Champaign County director of planning and zoning, said a petition to rezone what is known as the Jones building and surrounding property, located directly east of the Cherry Orchard apartment complex, is an agenda item for the Thursday, Jan. 31, meeting. The building sits on a 1.5-acre tract. Rick Stone, owner of K&S Property Management, Champaign, which owns the Jones building, has petitioned for the property to be rezoned from A-1 (agriculture) to R-4 (multi-family).