The village of Rantoul, Illinois, is located in northern Champaign County, approximately 120 miles south of metropolitan Chicago. The county's economic base is built on education, government, and agriculture. The University of Illinois, 14 miles away in Champaign-Urbana, is the region's largest employer.
The second largest employer, Chanute Air Force Base, closed in 1993. The base had employed 2,665 workers, 1,040 of whom lived off base. Its closing resulted in a 10 percent increase in local unemployment. The community is in a transition that few communities of its size experience.
For the first year of the Consolidated Plan, the village of Rantoul has requested $508,400 in Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The funding will be used to finance eight community development projects planned for Fiscal Year 1995.
Four notices were given for public hearings to obtain citizen comments on housing and nonhousing needs in the community and to seek comments on the final draft of the plan. A draft of the plan was sent to the Citizens Advisory Committee on December 23, 1994. On January 4, 1995, the Rantoul Community Development Department published a summary of the plan in the local newspaper and placed a copy at the local library for review. During the public discussions, no problems or major areas of contention arose.
The 1990 census indicated that Rantoul had 17,212 residents, a decrease of 2,962 persons (15 percent) since 1980. The decrease is attributable to the base closing. Nonetheless, the population decline began as early as 1970, when the population was at a high of 25,562.
Rantoul has not experienced any significant change in racial and ethnic composition during the decade. It is 82 percent white, 13 percent African American, 2 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian American and Pacific Islander, and less than 1 percent Native American. Racial and ethnic groups remain more or less equally distributed throughout the village.
The median family income (MFI) for the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan statistical area, which includes Rantoul, was $43,100 in 1995.
The University of Illinois estimated that Chanute Air Force Base directly contributed 25 percent of the area's total economy. To minimize the impact of the base closure, aggressive small scale development efforts were made, which effectively attracted new employers. Some of the development is on the base, which occupies nearly half of Rantoul's 4,444 acres. The Air Force is transferring property to the private sector and public entities, but it is uncertain how quickly Chanute will be redeveloped.
Rantoul has ample housing. Only about 4 percent of all large families face overcrowding, but more than 18 percent of low-income large families (51-80 percent of MFI) reported overcrowding. A disproportionate number of large families with extremely low incomes (0-30 percent of MFI) and very low incomes (31-50 of MFI) reported overcrowding.
Most of the housing units in Rantoul were built between 1950 and 1979. Although no data are available on the number of units needing repairs or rehabilitation, the condition of housing, especially vacant housing, presents a concern.
The housing market is segmented into two formerly distinct parts: the Chanute Air Force Base housing and housing in the rest of the village. As the Air Force sells or otherwise transfers base property, it is becoming part of the general housing market. Civilians are occupying these units, and developers are redrawing maps so plots will conform to local zoning and subdivision ordinances.
The housing market remains strong as people from outside the community buy housing in Rantoul, which is relatively inexpensive compared to the rest of the region. Rents have remained relatively stable in recent years despite the base closure. In-migration also plays a role in this stability. There is a 13 percent rental housing vacancy rate. Owner housing has fewer vacancies.
From April 1990 to 1994, the Rantoul Inspection Department reported that 46 single-family and 11 multifamily housing units were built.
More than half of all extremely low-income households experienced housing problems, which include affordability, inadequate structure, and overcrowding. They report spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing costs (cost burden), and all but elderly persons and one- and two-person households reported spending more than 50 percent of income on housing costs (severe cost burden).
Renters and owners with very low incomes also had many housing problems. The owner households reported a disproportionate amount of severe cost burden.
Elderly low-income renters reported high housing problems as did owner households in this income level. Owners were primarily concerned with affordability.
A disproportionate number of large and African-American households with moderate incomes (80-95 percent of MFI) experienced housing problems.
All minority renters had disproportionate housing needs, especially low-income Hispanic households. All minority owner households, in general, had more housing problems than white households at the same income levels. The groups most affected were extremely low-income African-American and Hispanic households.
Favorable property values and rents keep homelessness or imminent risk of homelessness low, but if economic recovery from the base closing slows, extremely low-income households could be at risk. A few transients have received temporary assistance and moved on.
Rantoul has no homeless facilities. All shelters and most services for the homeless and near homeless in Champaign County are in the cities of Champaign or Urbana. The Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (RPC) provides rent assistance, counseling, shelter referral, case management, and referral to permanent and temporary housing for homeless and near homeless persons. The RPC estimated that it receives between 250 and 300 calls annually from homeless or near homeless families in Rantoul.
The Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County (CSC), a nonprofit organization, indicated that between 10 and 20 homeless and near homeless persons, mostly transients, request assistance each year. They have received assistance vouchers from the Ministerial Association through CSC.
The Housing Authority of Champaign County indicates that Rantoul has 20 public housing units, all for elderly residents. There are also 21 Section 8 units under lease (half to elderly persons and half to families). Neither program has any vacancies. About 11 percent of the certificates and vouchers under the Section 8 program were unused as of October 1994. The Maplewood-Countryside Apartment Complex in Rantoul also offers 118 Section 8 units and 162 Section 236 units, with a vacancy rate of 77 percent.
Countywide, 45 persons are waiting for public housing, which is only open to involuntarily displaced persons. Nearly 600 persons are requesting Section 8 rent assistance.
During the coming year, the Illinois Regulatory Barriers Committee will meet regularly to develop a local regulatory barriers checklist/self-evaluation form. Rantoul has a number of policies that encourage affordable housing, including a one-stop permitting office, no impact fees, and flexible zoning requirements. Modular housing and accessory apartments are not excluded.
The Rantoul Inspection Department reports no incidents of lead-based paint poisoning in recent years. Although an estimated 75 percent of the residences contain some lead-based paint, the Rantoul Community Development Department has detected no cases of poisoning since the inception of the housing rehabilitation program in 1978.
The Rantoul Community Development Department sends letters to all applicants for assistance to inform them of the hazards of lead-based paint. Assisted households with children, which fall within the legal thresholds for lead-based paint abatement, will have treatment included in their work items. The Community Development Department intends to expand the lead-based paint information program to persons subject to inspections through the code enforcement program.
Among the special needs population, elderly persons with physical limitations and persons with physical disabilities were identified as needing supportive housing. No statistics for the number of persons in Rantoul with HIV/AIDS are available.
Many improvements must be made on or near the former base. The northern property needs new streets to improve and widen the east gate and north gate entrances and provide another access road to the northern industrial area. Most proposed storm sewer improvements would be on the former base.
Community Development and Inspection Department staff accomplish several hundred code enforcement actions each year. Code enforcement will not be lessened, especially with new housing units becoming available on the former base.
Some buildings in the downtown area need rehabilitation. Industrial and commercial buildings on the former base will need rehabilitation and retrofitting when the converted use for each building is known. Other commercial/industrial improvements needed include traffic signals.
The Community Development Department developed the Consolidated Strategy and Plan Submission in cooperation with the Citizens Advisory Committee. More than 20 organizations, offices, departments, and agencies were contacted during the development process.
As base property is converted to civilian use, many infrastructure changes must be made. Many base housing units have never been subject to accessibility requirements under the Americans With Disabilities Act or under local building codes. While Rantoul has done much to attract business and industry to the community in general and to the former base specifically, much remains to be developed.
Housing priorities established for Rantoul include:
Nonhousing priorities established include:
Energy efficiency improvements and lead-based paint and other hazard abatements are considered as part of the housing and rental rehabilitation programs.
About 1,374 persons (9 percent of the population) live below the poverty level. About one-third of those live in female-headed households. The Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County provides and coordinates services for persons needing food, counseling, temporary shelter, emergency assistance, and other basic services. The Rantoul Recreation Department has several programs for elderly persons and coordinates its services with the Peacemeal program and the local agencies on aging.
The village's main strategy against poverty has been in the area of economic development. Over the past 15 years, it has been successful in providing a better economic base by attracting industry. For 5 years the village has had a Base Reuse Office to focus specifically on redeveloping Chanute. These efforts have been coordinated with several Federal, State, and local agencies. For example, Rantoul is working with the Federal Government and developers on the disposal or eventual civilian occupancy of 1,300 former base housing units.
Economic development opportunities are expected to offer some persons below the poverty level additional income. The numerous housing opportunities on the base will help those persons to obtain decent, safe housing.
In the past the village has been actively involved, primarily as support for financial institutions, in homebuyers and first-time homebuyers programs. It gave bonding authority to establish a multimunicipality loan pool for first-time homebuyers and assisted local institutions in establishing first-time homebuyer mortgage credit programs.
State programs and resources include the Affordable Housing Trust Program, Housing Partnership, Multi-Family Commercial Paper, Illinois Homebuyer Program, Rural Housing Initiative, Mortgage Credit Certificates, Housing Linked Deposit, Homestart Mortgage, Domestic Violence, Crisis Assistance, Assistance to the Homeless Fund, Housing Advocacy and Cash Assistance, Community Care, and Home Services. These programs are available along with some leveraging of private and non-Federal sources and matching funds when applicable.
Local banks have contributed to the community primarily through Community Reinvestment Act initiatives. One bank administers the revolving loan fund and the rental rehabilitation revolving loan fund for free. A local businessman provided a no-interest loan to start the local air museum.
The Community Services Center of Northern Champaign County is the primary resource for nonprofit housing assistance in Rantoul. A local nonprofit community foundation funds minor service projects for improving the community. There is also a community youth foundation.
Federal resource programs include CDBG, Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act, Federal Emergency Management Agency programs, and the Economic Development Administration.
The Rantoul Community Development Department is responsible for implementing the Consolidated Plan and the CDBG rental and owner housing rehabilitation programs and seeking assistance for the construction of housing with supportive services for the elderly. Rehabilitated properties are subject to local building and other codes, and compliance is enforced by the Inspection Department which works closely with the Community Development Department.
The Housing Authority of Champaign County administers rent subsidy programs. Accessibility projects are the responsibility of the Rantoul Community Development Department and the Village Engineer.
Key projects that have been proposed include:
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.
Community Development Director
333 South Tanner
Rantoul, Illinois 61866