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

Consolidated Plan Contact


The Town of Cicero, one of the twenty largest communities in the State of Illinois, is located immediately adjacent to the west side of the City of Chicago. Previously it was known as one of the largest producers of heavy industrial goods in the State. Commencing in the 1970's, the Town began losing many of its "smoke-stack" industries and in the mid 1980's embarked upon a redevelopment plan to revitalize the community to the replacement of lost jobs and industry and to solidify its tax base and preserve its housing stock. The Town is largely a "blue collar" community with housing opportunities for those at the entry level of the housing market.

Action Plan

The Town's Consolidated Plan is guided by the philosophy that "a rising tide raises all ships". Government can provide a frame work and assistance to allow persons to thrive through their own efforts. The Consolidated Plan represents the community's goals for housing and economic development. The Consolidated Plan contains a one year action plan for leveraging available funds such as community development block grant and emergency shelter grant.

Citizen Participation

In developing this Plan, the Town built and expanded upon its previously established citizen participation mechanisms. The Cicero Department of Planning and Community Development was the lead agency and coordinated its efforts with all Town departments with functions related to or impacting upon housing and community development. Through its various programs, the Town had already established a network of social service providers and community leaders and social service agencies, businesses and business organizations were solicited for their input along with the input of neighboring communities who were in the in process of devising similar plans. Prior to the commencement of the plan preparation process, a hearing was held requesting input into the Town's housing and community development needs as seen from the perspective of the public, social services and business. This hearing was held February 2, 1995. An outline of the Plan was made available prior to the final draft and a public hearing for comments on that outline was held on July 5, 1995. Thereafter, the Plan was placed on public display and a notice published inviting all residents, businesses and social service agencies to submit their input. During this period, copies of the Plan were made available for distribution and two public hearings to present the Plan and take comments, were held on July 18, 1995 and July 21, 1995. After receiving these comments, and incorporating or otherwise addressing them, the Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees.


The Town of Cicero was first incorporated by the State of Illinois as a Town in 1867 and according to the 1990 Census, the population is 67,436 an increase of 10% from 1980. At the time of the 1990 census, Hispanics represented the largest ethnic group in the Town followed by the white non-Hispanics. The Town is physically located along the western boundary of the City of Chicago and although considered a suburb, is largely an urban area. Of the 24,841 housing units, 53.3% are owner occupied and owner occupied housing units have a medium value of $73,200.00 and the median rent of It was $349.00. The most notable trend is that of the increasing Hispanic population, which increased from 5,246 in 1980 to 24,931 in 1990. Since the 1990 census, no change in this trend has been noted with the largest concentrations of Hispanics in the under 18 and 18-44 year age groups.



During its early years, Cicero provided more jobs than could be filled by community residents. Starting in the early 70's, with the loss of industry, available jobs began to decline with the total number of jobs within Cicero declining to 18,667 as compared to 56,914 in 1974. As of 1990, the unemployment rate stood at 9%. However, only 19% of the Town's workers work in Cicero. Despite the loss of industry, manufacturing continues to be one of the largest employers in the Town followed by service and retail occupations. The Town's recent community development activities have centered on redeveloping abandoned or under-utilized manufacturing properties into viable commercial establishments. Based upon sales tax receipts, the Town's formula appears to be working. According to 1989 to 1990 sales tax receipts, Cicero sales were less than that of its neighbors of Berwyn and Oak Park. By 1993/94, Cicero's sales tax receipts had surpassed that of both of its neighbors.

Housing Needs

The Town believes that no housing is truly affordable unless it meets minimum code requirements for safety and sanitation. The purchase price of a home is only a portion of the costs of home ownership. Given the age and type of construction, with most homes constant maintenance and upkeep is required and low and moderate income home owners need assistance to maintain and repair their homes. Another area of need is making homes available for purchase to families of limited means through acquisition of foreclosures or other unoccupied dwellings and the Town hopes to acquire rehabilitate and make homes available to low and moderate income families at below market prices.

Another area of need is assistance to elderly renters and owners in the lowest income groups with 70% of elderly and one and two member households in this category paying in excess of 30% of income to rent and 50% paying an excess of 30% of income to housing. For the 30-50% MFI bracket, 78% of elderly and one to two member households pay in excess of 30% of income to rent. For the lowest income group, housing problems are consistent across ethnic lines with 57.5% of all owner households and 61.7% of Hispanic owner households experiencing problems.

Housing Market Conditions

The Town of Cicero has 24,841 total housing units, virtually all of which are year round housing. Of the 23,179 occupied units, 53.3% were owner occupied. At the time of the 1990 census, vacancy rates were very low with the home owner vacancy being .8% and rental vacancy rate being 6.9%. The owner housing market remains very strong with many of the units being priced within the range of those entering the housing market for the first time.

Median rent at $349.00 is moderate in comparison with neighboring suburbs. Virtually all of the existing units are suitable for rehabilitation, however, the majority of existing units are not suitable for frail elderly or persons with handicaps. There is very little new construction with the Town being 99% improved.

Affordable Housing Needs

The majority of the single family housing existing in the Town is in excess of 40 years old. Much of the owner occupied housing is the bungalow or raised ranch or two or three unit buildings. New construction is limited to small developments on vacant or redeveloped parcels and fill-in lots. New construction has been consistent with the market prices for the areas. There are no large subdivision or multi-family buildings currently planned other than the Town's plan to provide elderly housing. Households with the lowest incomes have the greatest housing costs burden and need assistance in becoming home owners, maintaining and rehabilitating homes and rental subsidies.

Homeless Needs

Homelessness Is a minor problem in the community. A point in time survey identified 12 persons believed to be homeless. Homeless services are provided through Family Service and Mental Health Care Center, Youth-in-Crisis, Cicero Health Department, Sarah's Inn and the Salvation Army. Many of these agencies provide services throughout the metropolitan area and are not limited solely to Cicero. These services are adequate for the Cicero homeless but may be inadequate when the numbers are combined with the area-wide homeless. Family Service and Mental Health Center provides counseling of budgeting and planning to prevent homelessness and the Cicero Planning and Community Development can provide households with the security deposit necessary to obtain a rental unit. The Town operates three emergency shelters used for primarily for emergency displacement, not for the perpetually homeless. Currently there are no facilities specifically designed for persons with alcoholism or other drug addictions, mental illness or suffering from HIV and related diseases.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

There are no publicly owned housing units in the Town. There are a total of 200 housing units with some type of federal rental assistance. Of those units, all are occupied and there are 132 households on the waiting list. Of these assisted units, 54 are single bedroom, 87 are two bedroom and 50 are three bedroom units.

Social service agencies have indicated needs in housing and services for the elderly, persons with mental and physical disabilities, persons with addictions and persons with contagious diseases.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

There is a lack of available funds to meet all of the housing needs of all groups. Rents and purchase prices are very affordable in comparison to surrounding suburbs.

All government regulations add to housing costs. On balance, the zoning, building and safety codes of the Town do not add significantly to the cost of local housing and that cost is outweighed by the benefits of assuring safe and sanitary housing. The lack of sufficient numbers of Section 8 or voucher housing contributes to the lack of affordability in the rental area. There is currently no publicly owned housing and none has been recently proposed.

Fair Housing

There are currently no court orders, consent decrees or other court-sanctions that effect the provision of fair housing, however, the Justice Department has brought suit against the Town alleging that the Town has discriminated against Hispanic families and seeks to invalidate the Town's Ordinance regulating housing density. Currently the Town has in excess of 11,000 people per square mile, however, when you remove the properties dedicated to non-housing uses, such as industry, railroads and retail and consider only persons per square mile of residential property, that number triples. Density regulations are important to preventing slums and promoting the health, safety and welfare of all residents. The Town believes that it's Ordinances are neutral on their face and as applied. The outcome of this suit is unknown and the Town will continue to fight what it believes is an unfair lawsuit and will continue to certify that it is an open community that provides equal access to housing for all.

Lead-Based Paint

94.9% of the housing units in the Town were built prior to 1970 and thus is presumed that these dwellings all have lead-base paint to some extent. The State of Illinois has enacted legislation mandating blood level testing for all children to be admitted into school. Of the 217 cases of blood levels in children level three or higher, 51 of those were in the Town of Cicero ranking Cicero as the highest incidence of this problem in Cook County.

Community Development Needs

Being an old urban community, the Town has many infrastructure needs. Infrastructure is a major component to redevelopment since adequate infrastructure is needed to support business and industry as well as housing. Commencing in 1994, the Town embarked on a three year infrastructure improvement program to replace inadequate or obsolete sewers, water mains, hydrants and streets, curbs and sidewalks. Further work is necessary to replace or rehabilitate existing bridges, street lighting and to install lights in alleys.

In coordination with these efforts, the Town is continuing to attempt to attract developers interested in redeveloping abandoned industrial properties, make them viable again and on the site of a portion of the former Hawthorne Works Industrial Plant, there is currently a large retail development under construction. These development needs should provide gainful employment and incomes which should aid in making housing more affordable and preventing homelessness.


The Planning and Community Development Department is charged with being the lead agency in designing, implementing and coordinating programs. The Department has a network of contacts with businesses and social service agencies through which programs can be carried out and concepts for meeting needs can be developed. There is always room for improvement in identification of needs, communication of those needs and designing efforts to meet those needs.


Vision for Change

The Town is expected to continue in its role as a solid working class community. Through business redevelopment efforts, job opportunities are expected to increase and the declining number of available jobs is expected to reverse. The population is anticipated to continue to increase. The housing market is expected to continue to be active without dramatic price increases preserving Cicero's role of providing a port-of-entry into home ownership. The programs for redevelopment and for housing assistance appear to be making a positive impact and as such, the programs are anticipated to continue in the near future.

Housing and Community Development Objectives and Priorities

Cicero is a working class community and the majority of its residents are hard working family oriented persons who live pay check to pay check and as such, income is probably the single most important factor affecting housing problems. There are problems unique to certain groups with specific needs such as, elderly or the disabled, but even those unique problems have some relationship to income. There is very little vacant land available for housing development and as such, objectives focus on the existing housing and the condition of that housing stock. Community development goals are to solidify residential areas, eradicate blight and underutilization and redevelop former industrial sites into new viable business concerns.

Housing Priorities

Priorities for affordable housing include providing assistance to low-income homeowners by providing assistance in rehabilitating and repairing existing homes, and increasing alternatives for the elderly.

Priorities for special needs population include providing grants to social service providers who are best equipped to provide services to special needs populations. These agencies include Family Services, Fillmore Center for Human Services, Sequin Services and the Cicero Mental Health Board.

Priorities for meeting homeless needs include providing emergency shelters as well as grants to agencies providing homeless services and disseminating information regarding existing program such as meal and food pantries operated through private not-for-profit agencies.

Non-Housing Community Development Priorities

Economic development activities include redeveloping abandoned or underutilized former industrial sites into viable commercial enterprises through payment of certain specified eligible costs including land write-down and offering low interest loans at favorably rates to new businesses that meet job creation guidelines. Community development activities include infrastructure improvements such as water and sewer replacements, curb, gutter and sidewalk replacements and street resurfacing.

Anti-Poverty Strategy

The Town recognizes that by providing job opportunities through its redevelopment activities, it can have an impact on poverty. The Town also administers a general assistance program to provide an income maintenance welfare program and food distribution. The Cicero Health Department provides free immunizations to children which should insure that they have a healthier start in life. These programs also include lead screening to prevent lead poisoning, health screening and dental exams. A number of social service agencies also administer programs that provide assistance to families in crisis by providing after school programs and education on budgeting and operating a household.

Housing and Community Development Resources

In addition to programs provided by the Town, various state and county department provide services to the community along with private non-profit organizations. The primary federal assistance comes in the form of CDBG, Section 8 and Emergency Shelter Grant Programs. Represented state programs include those offered by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The Cook County Health Department provides lead detection and abatement programs to reduce the instance of lead poisoning. Local programs include the Community Mental Health Board, the Cicero Health Department and General Assistance. Private agencies include social service providers and lending institutions.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

The Department of Planning and Community Development has overall responsibility for consolidated plan activities which includes coordinating other Town programs and working with private organizations which are involved in services included within the Plan. This Department is most knowledgeable in the activities related to the Plan and has day-to-day contact with persons in need of services and agency providers. The established network of providing services discussed in the Plan is adequate, but not all needs are addressed. The Department and the Town must continue in its efforts to monitor needs and adjust activities accordingly and to implement new programs to meet the goals of the Plan as concepts are developed or funding becomes available.


Description of Key Projects

The one year action plan outlined the use of expected resources which include $2,054,000.00 in Community Development Block Grant Funds, $82,000.00 from Emergency Shelter Grants and $240,000.00 in Program income, $146,000.00 in General Assistance and $80,000.00 in County Lead Abatement Funds. These funds along with other resources will be dedicated to a variety of housing related activities including $355,000.00 for Small Business Loans, $82,000.00 for Homeless Shelter Operations, $452,133.00 for improvement of existing housing which includes Emergency Repair Grants, Home Equity Improvement Loans, Handy-man Program and Lead Abatement; $85,000.00 for continuation of a Parent Aide Program to assist families at risk of child abuse or neglect, bi-lingual mental health programs and a substance abuse prevention program for young children; $23,000.00 for continuation of pre-school enrichment program and $90,000.00 for continuation of gang intervention; $28,000.00 for renovations to make housing handicap accessible.


All of the Direct Housing Assistance Programs are targeted to low and moderate income residential neighborhoods. Infrastructure improvements are scattered throughout the Town based upon the conditions of the existing infrastructure with the attempt being to correct the worst problems first and to split the work between areas of the Town so as to have the least inconvenience to residents, businesses and vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Cicero Avenue is the primary commercial arterial north/south roadway in the Town, and is the site of the Town commercial redevelopment activities. Attached are the following maps: Map 1, a map of the entire community showing points of interest; Map 2, a map of the entire community showing points of interest and an outline of low-mod areas; Map 3, a map of the entire community showing the low-mod outline and area of minority concentration; Map 4, a map of the entire community showing the low-mod outline and unemployment; and Map 5, street level map showing projects with low-mod outlined and unemployment.

Lead Agencies

The Department of Planning and Community Development fills the role of lead agency. This Department works internally with the administrative staff, the Building Department, Plan Commission and coordinates its service efforts with those of other instrumentalities of the Town such as the Mental Health Board, General Assistance as well as private agencies such as the Children's Center, Seguin Services and Family Services.

Housing Goals

Through its direct housing program such as loans, emergency repairs and home equity improvement loans, the Town has the goal of assisting 350 housing units. Through its acquisition and rehabilitation program, which is in its infancy, the Town hopes to aid one to two families initially. Through its Section 8 Program, the Town hopes to aid two hundred households and through its maintenance of emergency shelters and funding of agencies which provide counseling to prevent homelessness, the Town hopes to aid an additional 125 people. Through its grants for handicap accessibility, the Town hopes to aid an additional 250 people.


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.

TABLE (without associated map) provides information about the project(s).

To comment on the Town of Cicero's Consolidated Plan, please contact:

Dennis E. Both
Town Attorney
PH: (708) 656-3600 (EXT. 222) 2

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