U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development



Consolidated Plan Contact

CITIZEN'S SUMMARY

Located approximately 150 miles southwest of Chicago, Bloomington, Illinois, is adjacent to the town of Normal in central McLean County. The chief sources of employment in the county are service industries, government, retail, finance, insurance, real estate, and manufacturing businesses. The main employer in the area is State Farm Insurance, which is headquartered in Bloomington and has more than 8,000 employees. Other major employers include Illinois State University in Normal, with more than 3,000 employees, Country Companies Insurance, with nearly 1,700 employees, and BroMenn Healthcare, with 1,400 employees.

Action Plan

This document presents a plan for the use of Federal funds to address housing and community development needs in the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area. Although many needs, plans, and programs apply to both communities, this document focuses on the city of Bloomington. For the first year of the Consolidated Plan, housing needs predominate in Bloomington's planned use of $1,531,165 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, $722,629 in Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funds, and $100,000 in HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds.

Citizen Participation

Bloomington has designated the McLean County Regional Planning Commission as the lead agency for preparing the Consolidated Plan. The Planning Commission is charged with developing a work program and coordinating and managing the planning process. A Consolidated Plan Task Force has been established to coordinate and manage this process. The Task Force is composed of officials representing the Planning Commission, the city of Bloomington, the town of Normal, United Way of McLean County, Bloomington Housing Authority, Home Sweet Home Mission, and Community Action.

Between August 1994 and January 1995, the Task Force met biweekly, and public notice of these meetings was provided to members of the community. At every meeting the Task Force solicited public input regarding the different stages of the planning process. Public hearings also were held on November 1, 1994, at the Bloomington Public Library and on January 31, 1995, at the Parks and Recreation Annex in Normal.

Throughout the citizen participation process, input was provided by local service providers and organizations involved in housing and homelessness issues, including Chestnut Health Systems, Clare House, the Department of Rehabilitation, LIFE Center for Independent Living, Marc Center, McLean County Center for Human Services, Oakwoods Association, Occupational Development Center, Project OZ, Salvation Army, Western Avenue Community Center, and West Side Improvement Association.



COMMUNITY PROFILE

In 1990 the population of Bloomington was 51,889, an increase of 17 percent since 1980. Minorities, more than half of whom are African American, make up 10 percent of the city's population. Persons who are ages 65 and over number 6,230, or 12 percent of the population, while persons 18 and under number 12,534, or 24 percent. During the 1980s the number of households in Bloomington increased by 18 percent, to 12,534. Household size, however, did not change.

Continued steady population growth is expected in the Bloomington-Normal area, largely because of the establishment of the new Diamond-Star automobile plant in Normal and the expansion of State Farm Insurance. State Farm is constructing a 2-million-square-foot data processing center and is developing an additional 450 acres for offices and warehouses. By the year 2000, McLean County's population is expected to more than double to 142,000; by 2015, it may reach 160,000.

In 1990 McLean County had 49,164 housing units, of which nearly one-half were in Bloomington, one-quarter were in Normal, and slightly more than one-quarter were in rural areas. The majority of the units are single family. Duplexes and apartments make up 28 percent of the inventory, followed by mobile homes at 7 percent, and condominiums at 3 percent. The county's vacancy rate of 4.8 percent is well below that of the State and of the Nation, which are 6.7 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

Median family income (MFI) for a family of four in the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area is $48,600. Low-income (51-80 percent of MFI) and moderate-income (81-95 percent of MFI) residents comprise nearly 40 percent of Bloomington's population and are spread throughout the city.



HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT NEEDS

Conditions

Over the past decade, local home prices have risen far slower than inflation. Nevertheless, housing is a major cost for most families, and minority households are less likely than non-minority households to own their homes. The median 1990 value of owner-occupied homes in McLean County was $65,900, with only one-quarter of the homes valued at $90,800 or higher. The county's median home value is 19 percent below the State average and is 16 percent below the national average. At 42 percent, the rate of homeownership is highest in Bloomington compared to 36 percent in the county's rural areas, and 22 percent in Normal.

Housing Needs

Bloomington has a limited amount of ownership housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income families, and a substantial number of renter households are paying more than 30 percent of their income for rent. African Americans have a disproportionate share of the housing problems experienced by low-income groups. Very low-income Hispanics also have a greater percentage of housing problems than Bloomington's population as a whole.

Approximately 6 percent of all owner units and 10 percent of all rental units in the city are substandard. Of these, about 80 percent of the owner units and 75 percent of the rental units are suitable for rehabilitation.

A study completed in 1989 identified the following eight neighborhoods in Bloomington as slum or blight areas:

It is not known how many of the 5,800 structures surveyed were owner-occupied units or how many were rentals. Between 25 and nearly 70 percent of them, however, are in deteriorating condition.

According to the 1990 census, one-fourth of the city's renter households containing large families live in overcrowded conditions. Overcrowding is greatest among renters with incomes of 30 percent or less of MFI. Few owner-occupied housing units are overcrowded.

Market Conditions

Between 1980 and 1990, Bloomington's housing inventory grew by 2,590 units and the median value of owner-occupied units rose about 53 percent. Between 1990 and 1994, another 2,578 units were constructed, 83 percent of which were single-family dwellings. With ample undeveloped land bordering Bloomington and Normal, market conditions are quite conducive to new housing development. A substantial amount of new construction is taking place; however, most of these homes, with prices averaging more than $100,000, are on the high end of the market.

Larger family homes are in demand in the McLean County area. In the first half of 1994, the average sale price of a two-bedroom home was $59,089, while that of a four-bedroom home was $147,773. The average sale price during that period for homes with two or fewer bedrooms remained constant, but the price for three or more bedroom homes rose 6 percent.

Approximately 12,425 units in Bloomington were owner occupied in 1990, with a vacancy rate of 1.5 percent. Recent comprehensive data are not available on the condition of this housing. The city's Community Development Division rehabilitates about 30 owner-occupied dwelling units per year through its CDBG rehabilitation program.

Rental prices in Bloomington are slightly lower than prevailing prices elsewhere. The 1990 median monthly rent in McLean County was $326, compared to $369 in the State and $374 in the Nation. Prices are slightly higher in rural McLean and Normal, with the highest rates in the portion of Normal situated between Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University. As of September 1994, fair market rent in Bloomington was $292 for an efficiency unit and $664 for a three-bedroom unit. Although the average rent for efficiency units has not risen since 1990, the average rate for three-bedroom units has increased by 24 percent.

Affordable Housing Needs

Renting an apartment in Bloomington-Normal is a financial drain for people who are employed but earn minimum wage. Lower-income workers tend to work in the service industry, holding low- or minimum-wage jobs. The affordability of rental housing to low-income households may depend on the availability of rental assistance. Among extremely low-income (0-30 percent of MFI) households, 74 percent of renters and 66 percent of owners spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Moreover, 53 percent of renters and 38 percent of owners in this income range spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. One-third of all large families at this income level live in overcrowded conditions.

Housing costs are also the biggest housing problem of other very low-income (31-50 percent of MFI) households. Nearly two-thirds of renters and one-third of owners at this income level are burdened by excess housing costs. More than 17 percent of large, very low-income renter families are overcrowded.

Housing cost is not nearly as severe a problem for low-income households (51-80 percent of MFI). Seventeen percent of renters and 16 percent of owners in this category spend in excess of 30 percent of their income on housing.

African Americans and Hispanics in the lower-income groups experience a disproportionate share of housing problems.

With many renters paying a large percentage of their income for rent, homeownership is a desirable alternative. However, little affordable housing is available, and low- and moderate-income families find it difficult to save for downpayments. Assistance is needed for first-time homebuyers.

Homeless Needs

An August 1994 study of emergency shelters, transitional housing, domestic violence facilities, runaway and homeless youth facilities, and police departments estimated that 1,800 individuals are homeless in the Bloomington-Normal area. It is estimated that on any given night from 5 to 15 individuals are on the street without shelter. Approximately 56 percent of this population are white; 41 percent are African American; and 3 percent are other minority groups. The following subpopulations were identified:

Although only 0.8 percent of HIV/AIDS cases were reported in the city's homeless population in 1994, the incidence is probably much higher. Currently, the community has no specific hospice program for persons infected with HIV\AIDS.

The 5 homeless service agencies that provided admissions data for fiscal year 1994 were Home Sweet Home Mission, which served 960 individuals and families; the Salvation Army, which served 550 individuals and families; Community Action's transitional apartments, which served 23 families; Community Action's domestic violence shelter, which served 229 families; and Project OZ, which served 42 runaway, homeless youth. These agencies provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, domestic violence shelter, overnight emergency shelter, supportive services, and outreach and assessment.

Numerous providers in the region offer other services for homeless persons and those at risk of becoming homeless. These services include meals, emergency food baskets, and grocery items; clothing and other household items; rent and utility assistance; telephone information referral and crisis response; legal assistance; living skills counseling; health services; and substance use treatment.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) is responsible for the administration of the city's public housing program. The program includes 638 units located primarily on the west and near-west side of Bloomington. Scattered across the city, the apartments range in size from efficiencies to five bedrooms. More than half are efficiency or one-bedroom units serving the elderly and disabled. Two-bedroom units for small families comprise 17 percent of the stock. The balance is composed of larger units, which are in extremely short supply.

Nearly one-third of Bloomington's public housing units were built in 1954. To bring them up to HUD standards and make them viable as low-income rental housing for the next 20 years, the interior of 100 units will be completely renovated under the Comprehensive Improvement Assistance Program.

The John Kane Homes, built in 1963, was the first public housing development built exclusively for elderly tenants. This single-story, 30-unit development consists of efficiencies and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Plans are under consideration to convert this site into small-family units because vacancies exist in other public housing developments for seniors.

Moreover, other conversion activities may be taking place in Bloomington. BHA, for example, has requested permission for the sale and disposition of Sunnyside Court, a public housing development built 39 years ago. BHA considers the development to be environmentally unsafe and intends to use Section 8 certificates or vouchers to help current residents to move into better housing.

Existing Section 8 housing units in McLean County total 387. The Lincoln Square and Lancaster Heights projects in Normal have 346 Section 8 units and 236 privately owned and managed units that are federally subsidized. In Bloomington and Normal, rehabilitation and new construction for Section 8 housing will make an additional 673 units available to lower-income residents.

At the end of 1994, 464 applicants were on BHA's waiting list for Section 8 housing. Of these applicants, 21 percent were current BHA tenants residing in conventional public housing and 4 percent were residents of other subsidized housing in the Bloomington-Normal area. The waiting list for conventional public housing was much smaller (54 applicants), but BHA reports that lists for two-, three-, four-, and five-bedroom units are exhausted regularly.

The Center for Human Services provides disabled and elderly clients with Section 8 certificates for selected sites in Bloomington. The Center also has a rooming house for disabled clients. In addition, Marc Center has established group homes for developmentally disabled children and adults. Presently, there are no units within Bloomington, Normal, or McLean County that specifically provide housing for persons with HIV/AIDS.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Bloomington has no ordinances, regulations, or administrative procedures that hinder the development of affordable housing, and the city's zoning code and land use plan provide ample opportunities for such development. Nevertheless, barriers do exist.

The high cost of housing is the primary obstacle to affordable housing development. Because of the area's strong economy, it is difficult to entice developers to focus on building affordable single-family homes. The majority of residential growth has taken place in the $100,000 to $175,000 range, which is out of reach for low- and moderate-income households. Furthermore, among many neighbors and homeowner associations, "Not In My Backyard" sentiments impede the development of low-cost housing.

The Bloomington-Normal region's competitive economic situation also motivates landlords to charge higher rental prices. Two major universities are situated in the area, and rental costs are inflated around their campuses. Many single-family renters, especially low- to moderate-income households, cannot afford to pay the high rents in these locations.

Fair Housing

The city's Human Relations Code contains strong provisions relating to housing discrimination and calls for penalties for non-compliance. Several community activities have been implemented to promote fair housing opportunities, and local lending institutions have held regular informational meetings to educate citizens about housing programs for low- and moderate-income households in the Bloomington-Normal area.

During the summer of 1994, a new pamphlet was developed and released by the city's Minority Advocacy Committee. Entitled "Housing A Problem?", it lists contacts for assistance with various housing issues, including downpayment assistance, alternative ways to purchase a home, credit ratings improvement, rental problems, emergency housing, and other housing assistance. In addition, the Bloomington-Normal Human Relations Commission sponsored a Fair Housing Seminar in September 1994.

Lead-Based Paint

It is estimated that lead-based paint is present in 58 percent of the housing stock in Bloomington. Because it is not practical to inspect every unit suspected of having lead-based paint, the city is relying on the McLean County Health Department's (MCHD's) lead screening program and its own findings from code enforcement and housing rehabilitation program inspections to reveal lead-based paint hazards.

MCHD has incorporated lead screening into its immunization programs for children. In addition, children in the community are screened for a nominal fee based on a sliding scale or a $10 maximum charge. The Health Department has reported elevated blood-lead levels in about 10 percent of all persons screened. In such cases, MCHD staff follow a course of action in accordance with State Department of Public Health guidelines.

Other Issues

MCHD has reported a need for handicapped-accessible housing near public transportation for persons with AIDS. MCHD also reports that long waiting periods between AIDS diagnosis and receipt of benefits can cause temporary housing problems. It is expected that housing needs for this population will increase as persons with AIDS live longer because of new treatments and medications now available. It also is expected that more women and children in McLean County will be diagnosed as HIV positive within the next few years, making housing needs more complex.

Community Development Needs

The greatest community development needs in Bloomington are transportation services, employment training, child-care services, energy efficiency improvements, and code enforcement. Of lower priority are needs for child-care centers; parks and recreational facilities; and water, street, sidewalk, sewer, and other infrastructure improvements.

Accessibility needs exist for persons with disabilities. A program is in place to construct ramps for individuals who need improved access to their homes.

Additional community programs that would benefit local residents are youth services, substance abuse services, fair housing counseling, tenant and landlord counseling, and health services.



HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

Housing and Community Development Objectives and Priorities

The 5-year strategy that Bloomington has developed for Fiscal Year 1996 through Fiscal Year 2000 outlines a coordinated approach for addressing the housing and community development issues identified in this Consolidated Plan. The principal focus is on low-, very low-, and extremely low-income residents, with an emphasis on providing them with decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanding their economic opportunities.

Housing Priorities

High priority was given to small, very low-income renter households with cost burdens greater than 30 percent of income. High priority also was assigned at every income level to owner-occupied houses with physical defects.

High priority was given to establishing transitional shelters for homeless families, individuals, and persons with special needs.

Medium priority was given to extremely low-income families in small renter-occupied houses with physical defects. Medium priority also was given to all owner households with cost burdens greater than 30 percent of income as well as to very low-income owner households with cost burdens greater than 50 percent of income.

Non-housing Community Development Priorities

The highest non-housing community development priorities established in the planning process were:

Anti-Poverty Strategy

Recognizing that affordable housing is one of the most critical economic problems faced by residents living in poverty, the city will continue to seek housing resources for very low-income persons. In addition to the city's housing efforts, a large network of human service agencies in McLean County will provide housing-related services, including crisis intervention, advocacy, and referral services.

Housing and Community Development Resources

Resources in housing, community development, and human services that are available to carry out this Consolidated Plan include public, private, and non-profit organizations. Federal and State resources will be used to fund many of the plan's initiatives in rental assistance, rehabilitation and homebuyer assistance, homeless assistance and prevention, and emergency assistance. Private resources will be used to fund mortgage lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers through various financial incentives. Local community resources and non-profit agencies will meet numerous housing and community development needs, including shelter and supportive services for the homeless, domestic violence victims, troubled families and children, and persons with special needs.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

Bloomington's Community Development Division will have primary responsibility for implementing the Consolidated Plan and coordinating and monitoring activities described in the plan. The Community Development Division is directly responsible for administering the city's CDBG-funded housing activities, including housing rehabilitation, code enforcement, downpayment assistance, and affordable housing subdivision predevelopment activities.

The monitoring effort will include establishing a system for tracking the progress of all CDBG-funded housing related activities; conducting regular periodic reviews of all CDBG housing activities; preparing periodic reports on monitoring results; and preparing an annual comprehensive report covering all Consolidated Plan activities.

United Way of McLean County has taken the lead in coordinating the many housing and human service endeavors in McLean County. In addition, PATH, Inc., will coordinate day-to-day activities among human service agencies; conduct resource training for frontline agency personnel, school personnel, and community leadership; provide crisis response, information, and referral services for residents; and assist other agency professionals in making appropriate referrals for their clients.



ONE-YEAR ACTION PLAN

Description of Key Projects

During the first year of the Consolidated Plan, 67 projects have been planned throughout the city. Key projects include:

MAPS

MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s) depicted in MAP 9.


To comment on Bloomington's Consolidated Plan, please contact:

Connie Griffin, Program Manager
109 E. Olive St. P.O. Box 3157
Bloomington, IL 61702
Phone: 309-823-4244
Fax: 309-828-3157


Return to Illinois' Consolidated Plans.

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