Originally passed in 2003, the Illinois Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act (AHPAA) requires cities with populations of at least 1,000 residents and less than ten percent affordable housing to submit their affordable housing plans to the state. Gail Schechter sits on the Illinois Housing Appeals Board, but she has never heard a case. The board was brought together in 2009 and fully appointed by Governor Pat Quinn in 2012 to provide checks and balances while Illinois communities create affordable housing. Affordable housing developers who believe they have been treated unfairly or rejected by a municipality are given a chance to appeal a city’s decision to reject their project. However, developers are not utilizing the appeals process. According to Schechter via WBEZ, “a developer just wants to do business. If they can’t build what they want to build, they’ll go to another community.”
“A building is only built once.”
So writes Ellen Vaughan, Policy Director at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (“EESI”), and Jim Turner, former Chief Counsel at the EESI. The consequences of new construction can last for the entire life of that building and beyond. Just how and with what materials a building is constructed impacts energy, environment, resilience, and safety as well as cost effectiveness, functionality, accessibility, productivity, and overall sustainability. The how of building is an incredibly important part of the life of residential and commercial builds which can only be affected prior to the start of the entire process.
As President Donald Trump continues to deliver on his promise to deregulate, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been instrumental in reversing Obama-era regulations. President Trump, who made his fortune in real estate development, has a checkered past when it comes to fair housing and discrimination. Now his administration is working to cut funding to HUD and unwind many fair housing and discrimination rules. Administration proponents say this is a necessary step to fix a broken and corrupt bureaucracy, while many advocates have expressed concern over the government scaling back enforcement of fair housing laws. Any reform effort should seek to balance concerns about bureaucracy with the vital missions of fair discrimination-free housing, inclusive communities, and civil rights.