Will County, located in northeastern Illinois, is demographically and geographically a highly diverse area with a mixture of urban and rural living styles. The explosive growth along the northern and western boundaries of the County have contributed towards turning it into a metropolitan center versus the agricultural center that it once was in the 1960's. There are two large metropolitan centers within the County of note. The oldest and largest area centers around the City of Joliet, whose boundaries straddle four Townships: Joliet, Troy, Lockport, and Plainfield. The other metropolitan center is the Bolingbrook metropolitan area, including much of DuPage and Wheatland Townships. Will County currently has a population of approximately 350,000 residents and the County projects a population explosion of over 115,000 new residents by the year 2010. This represents a 32% increase during the next 20 years.
The Will County Consolidated Plan includes a one-year Action Plan for the expenditure of $2,272,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds (which includes $200,000 in reprogrammed funds and $170,000 in program income) and $491,000 in Home Investment Partnership (HOME) funds.
The Consolidated Plan was prepared by the Will County Community Development Department with input and assistance from several local agencies, groups and citizens in accordance with the county's adopted Citizen Participation Plan. The Community Development Department conducted a Public Hearing on November 16, 1994 which set the tone for the preparation of the Plan while at the same time allowing comments on the citizen Participation Plan, as it related to the Consolidated Plan and other HUD program matters. Those in attendance at this initial hearing were given the opportunity to sign up for various Focus Groups to be held on Housing, Homeless & Special Needs, Non-Housing Community Development and Economic Development. The Focus Groups were held to assess the specific needs of each selected group.
Once the Focus Groups had completed their Needs Assessment, a subcommittee was formed to prioritize needs and assist the Community Development Department in developing strategies to address those needs. The Subcommittee is an Ad Hoc committee which includes members of the CDBG Advisory Board and members of the Focus Groups.
The next step in the process was to take the recommendations from the
Subcommittee to the Advisory Board. The recommendations were then taken to the
Executive Committee of the County Board. This Committee sets the agenda for the
County Board meetings. The final step in the process was approval by the County
The County is growing in population and is shedding its rural character and
becoming more urbanized and appears to be more racially and ethnically diverse.
On the surface, the census data would indicate that the County is becoming more
diverse from an ethnic and racial point of view. The Black population has
increased from 9.7% in 1980 to 10.7% in 1990; the Hispanic population has
increased from 4.25% in 1980 to 5.6% in 1990, and the Asian/Pacific Islander
population has increased from .8% to 1.3%. However, the changes in racial
composition of the City of Joliet alone has made a large impact on making the
County look more racially and ethnically diverse.
During the 1980's the County lost thousands of manufacturing jobs and experienced several plant closings. The downturn in the economy also had a direct impact on housing construction and availability of affordable units for lower income families. Recently, however, the unemployment rate for the County has been steadily falling from the high of 12.9% in 1983 to 7.2% at the end of 1993. Conversely, the unemployment rate for the State has steadily risen since 1989 form 6% to over 8% in 1993.
Industrial employment projected for the year 2005 is expected to increase by 21,300 persons, representing a 21% increase when compared to the 1988 base year. This job growth rate is also well above the statewide 12.8% projected growth rate. The largest number of jobs will be found in the service sector with 34.7% of the total. This sector contains educational services, health services, and employment in the public sector. The next largest "industrial" component is the trade sector with 23% of the total growth. Included in this sector is Eating and Drinking Establishments, and Amusement Establishments. Employment losses are expected in durable goods manufacturing where electrical equipment will drop 363 jobs by the year 2000. As this transition takes place, the projected influx of new job opportunities for low income persons seems brighter.
Will County's mid section (i.e. Wilmington, Florence, Wilton, Peotone, Will and Washington Townships) are heavily involved in agriculture, and have not experienced the rapid growth as those townships to the north and west. However, this trend would be reversed if the "Third Airport" were located in the "green grass" sites. Also, the proposed extension of I- 355 extension would not all be positive. While the new highway would encourage economic development, its close proximity to existing housing stock in eastern Joliet Township could cause the "gentrification" of the area which in turn would price the existing rental units that are now affordable, out of range to low income persons.
Scarce resources that are currently dedicated toward the reduction in the Affordable Housing Gap are not effective enough to turn the tide. The County must develop a more aggressive approach to correcting the imbalance in the current "housing system" by addressing the needs of those seeking entry into the rental market or the housing market for the first time and for hose elderly wishing to leave the housing market to become renters. Finally, the County must protect against having too many areas of concentrated minority and low income populations. The goal for the County should be balanced housing and balanced housing opportunities for all income levels in all communities.
Statistics complied by the Will County board of Realtors in 1994 reflect an average selling price of $118,000 for a 3 bedroom home. Twenty two communities in Will County have Median Household Incomes that would be insufficient to purchase the average 3 bedroom home priced at $118,000.
Households classified as Very Low Income have incomes less than 30% of area median family income. Housing problems in the county are experienced more often by the poorest income groups. Approximately 17% of renter households in Will County fall into the Extremely Low Income Classifications, or 2,635 renter units. Of these renter households, 80% experience excessive cost burden (housing costs> 50 % of gross income) and also have at least one other housing problem. This usually means the family is living in overcrowded or substandard conditions. A vast majority of these 2,635 Extremely Low Income households are occupied either by small families or the elderly. Based on population trends and the age of the population in Will County, it appears that the number of Extremely Low Income Renter Households having needs will at a minimum double in size over the next five years. There could be as many as 5,000 extremely low income renters experiencing either cost burden or over crowded conditions and or living in substandard units.
Census data shows that as of 1990, over 3,200 owner households in the 0-30% of median income category were in need of some type of housing assistance or were experiencing some type of housing need, either cost burden, severe cost burden nor living in substandard housing. Of the total categories of owners at this income level, there appeared to be no one group (i.e. elderly, small family, large family etc.) that had been experiencing a disproportionate degree of housing problem. In other words, approximately 80% of all segments of the 0-30% of median group were equally experiencing housing problems and needs. The projected needs of this group are similar to the renters in the same income group in that based on population trends and the age of the population in Will County, it appears that the number of the Extremely Low Income Owner Households having needs will at a minimum double in size over the next five years. There could be as many as 6,000 extremely low income owners experiencing either cost burden or over crowded conditions and or living in substandard units.
It is difficult to determine the exact number of homeless persons in the County. However, there are only two agencies currently addressing the needs of the homeless, Morning Star Mission and Catholic Charities. These services, located in Joliet, but serving all of Will County, focus primarily on meeting immediate, physical needs: food, shelter and clothing. The organizations currently providing services to the homeless have experienced a great rise in demand.
There is a need to significantly expand supportive housing services in Will County to enable citizens with mental and/or developmental disabilities to have their own home. Some homeless families are in need of various types of supportive training and treatment that begins when they first enter into shelters.
Additionally, others risk homelessness due to an inability to meet current rent and occupancy costs to avoid eviction. Over the past 12 months, emergency grants and assistance has been provided through agencies, such as General Assistance from the County's Townships, Center for Correctional Concerns, Community Services Council of Northern Will County, Catholic Charities, and through FEMA funds. Without this assistance, these families and individuals would join the ranks of the homeless.
Will County does not currently have a county-wide housing authority. Therefore, it is not possible to identify the existence of any public housing units within the jurisdiction, other than what was available form IHDA several months ago. However, efforts have been made to update information on these units.
The Joliet PHA has a Section 8 waiting list as of October, 1994 of over 500 families. It has been estimated that roughly 10% of these families come from Will County, and not from Joliet.
Will County is an area experiencing growth in both residential and business areas due to its convenient location to major thoroughfares, as well as, its largely underdeveloped areas. Several regulatory barriers, such as: zoning, building codes, Subdivision Regulation, and Fees and Donations, set forth by municipalities, have caused barriers to balanced development and affordable housing as needed in the County.
The County has been using the services of professional fair housing agencies in order to develop its fair housing action plan. However, the County needs to reassess its entire spectrum of fair housing activities and evaluate whether or not an outside fair housing agency can adequately meet the growing needs of the County. The issue is not having the capacity to deal with a set of complex problems. As Federal funds and programs become more competitive, more and more fair housing issues will need immediate resolution.
The County has determined that there is a lack of balance in the County's housing system brought about by the population growth, ethnic and racial imbalance and change to an urbanized county. Therefore, the County's strategy is to establish a Fair Housing Task Force, comprised of a wide range of Will County organizations, for the purpose of evaluating the need for a locally based Fair Housing Agency.
Lead poisoning has been called the number one childhood environmental health hazard in the country. In 1992, a major Federal law (Title X of HCDA) was passed to address the seriousness of the problem. HUD has funded several studies which establish various housing characteristics that indicate a higher than average likelihood of the presence of lead-based paint hazards. The primary source of lead poisoning in children would be found in housing units build before the 1978 ban on lead-based paint was imposed. Units built in pre-1940 have a greater incidence of lead-based paint than units built between 1940-1959, which in turn have higher rated of lead-based paint than units built between 1960-1979.
Based on data furnished by HUD, Will County's 18% of all housing outside the City of Joliet were constructed prior to 1940, or approximately 17,200 units; 8% of all housing units, or 8,100, were constructed from 1940 to 1959; 74% of all housing units, or 72,500 were constructed from 1960 to 1979. Further analysis of the data from HUD indicates that of the pre 1940 units, approximately 4,400 are rented by very low income families and 5,200 of the pre 1940 units are owned and occupied by very low income persons. According to the incidence rations established by HUD, we could expect the following number of housing units to be the source of lead-based paint hazards: Pre-1940, 8,572 units; 1940-1959, 13,692 units; 1960-1979, 30,074 units.
In an effort to reduce lead-based paint hazards, Will County tests housing units as a result of a child having an elevated blood lead level. If the blood lead level is 20 mcg/dl or above, a home investigation is made by a community health nurse. The Will County Health Department also conducts screening at the Clinic for children between the ages of six months to six years old.
There are several residential subdivisions or parts of subdivisions in unincorporated Will County that remain unsewered. These areas have not been previously included as a part of the existing public sewer systems due to either their proximity to the existing system or because the residents lack of financial resources to hook into the system. The Will County Health Department has identified several areas in the Joliet metropolitan area, as well as other more remote locations through out the County, in need of sewage. If these areas are allowed to continue without proper sewerage, severe health problems will cause harm through the contamination of wells and other means.
Will County has several communities within its jurisdiction that have inadequate drainage and flood abatement systems. Many systems located in the urbanized communities are running antiquated "dual" sanitary/storm drainage systems, which must now be separated in order to meet EPA compliance. Other infrastructure improvements such as water line replacement, storm and sanitary sewer improvements and extensions and roadway improvements are also needed in low income areas. Additionally, the County has a chronic need to target the clean up of vacant, burned out and deteriorated areas. This includes the removal of structures burned out and abandoned vehicles and equipment, debris removal etc. that has collectively had a blighting and debilitating effect on low income neighborhoods.
There is a need to create jobs for low and moderate income persons and the County has established economic development as a priority need. The County needs to ensure that low and moderate income residents particularly those persons with disabilities, children, youth and the elderly have access to a full range of public services such as health care, education, job training, recreation, food, shelter and clothing.
The Will County Community Development Department is responsible for the
coordination of the Consolidated Plan.
The County has placed a priority on ensuring that all residents of have access to affordable, decent, safe and sanitary housing. The County seeks to ensure that all homeless persons and those "are risk" of becoming homeless have reasonable access to professional care takers who are capable of meeting both the emergency needs of the homeless as well as the long range needs such as job training, education and the eventual transition into the mainstream of society. Emphasis will be placed on minimizing the disparities between those lower income neighborhoods and the higher income areas in terms of public facilities and public infrastructure to enhance the quality of life. Additionally, the County will ensure that the low and very low and moderate income populations of the County have access to the full range of public services.
Will County must ensure that the Affordable Housing gap that exists in the county in the mid 1990's is narrowed substantially within the next five years. This must be done to ensure that all residents of the County have access to affordable, decent, safe and sanitary housing appropriate to their needs and means.
(1) Capacity Building - Will County will form an Affordable Housing Task Force comprised of representatives from the private and public sector to begin addressing the Affordable Housing Gap which is conservatively estimated at over 20,000 units. The Task force shall expand on the strategies in the Consolidated Plan by advocating the expansion from within the County of not for profit and for profit developers to develop new construction for low and moderate income persons.
(2) Homebuyers - There is a need to move those families and individuals that are experiencing cost burden problems. The County will continue to develop and refine the First Time Home Buyer Program with local banking institutions throughout the County and aggressively market the program through various not for profit agencies. A portion of the HOME Program funds will be allocated to the program.
(3) Owner Occupied Rehabilitation - A significant number of Owner Occupied housing units in the County have some type of housing problem, (i.e. 20% of 74,716) are experiencing a degree of cost burden. Coupled with the age of housing stock and the increasing percentage of persons below poverty, it stands to reason that Owner Occupied Rehabilitation should be a top priority for the County in order to at least maintain the current level of affordable housing units as opposed to losing units due to substandard condition. The County's strategy is to maintain the supply of standard affordable housing units through the rehabilitation of existing owner occupied units. The County expects to continue using CDBG funds for the operation of the Emergency Rehab Program and the Moderate Rehab Program.
(4) Rental Housing - Based on Census data, there is a significant number of Renter Occupied housing units in the County having some type of housing problem (i.e. 33% of 15,600) are experiencing a degree of cost burden. The County's strategy is to use HOME funds to provide Tenant Based Assistance to eligible renters that are currently in need of a unit or on the verge of losing their housing.
(5) Fair Housing Activities - The County will establish a Fair Housing Task Force to evaluate the need for a locally based Fair Housing Agency due to the lack of balance in the County's housing system brought about by the population growth, ethnic and racial imbalance and change to an urbanized county.
The County will strive to continue making Federal resources available in low and moderate income neighborhoods throughout the County in order to minimize the disparities between those lower income neighborhoods and the higher income areas in terms of public facilities and public infrastructure, so long as these projects continue to enhance the quality of life and are necessary in order to complete the proposed work. The following is a list of the County's priorities:
(1) Sanitary Sewer Improvements - The County will coordinate with the Health Department and existing sanitary districts to address problems that require immediate correction in neighborhoods have in a predominance of low, very low and moderate income residents.
(2) Drainage & Flood Abatement - The County will continue to fund those community applications that target drainage and storm water improvements as a priority in their community.
(3) Demolition/Removal of Blighting Conditions - The County will create and administer a demolition/blighted area set aside which will be monitored by neighborhood organizations.
(4) Other Infrastructure Improvements - The County will fund other infrastructure projects such as water line replacement, storm and sanitary sewer improvements and extensions and roadway improvements on a competitive ranging scale. The projects receiving funding will be those projects that provide the maximum benefit to the very low, low and moderate income population within the particular community, while at the same time leveraging other available funds into the project.
(5) Economic Development - The County will continue investing CDBG funds through setting aside new grant funds in 1995 and allowing the LDC to continue using program income generated as a result of prior loans. CDBG funds will be used for selected economic development projects targeted a t low and moderate income persons with a special emphasis on micro enterprises in low income areas.
(6) Public Services - The County will evaluate the public service needs of persons with disabilities and consider funding applications from agencies with insufficient resources to meet identified needs. The County will ensure that low and moderate income persons will have access to the full range of public services. Priority shall be given to elderly and youth and services such as health, education, rehabilitation, job training, substance abuse, recreation and food, clothing and shelter.
(7) Public Services - Other - The County will evaluate the public service needs of other clientele and consider applications from agencies with insufficient resources to meet such needs.
(8) Children, Youth and Elderly - The County will evaluate the public service needs of children, youth and the elderly and consider applications from agencies with insufficient resources to meet such needs.
(9) Homelessness and Special Needs - The County will maintain the level of administrative and staff oversight that is necessary meet the needs of the homeless in the County without providing unnecessary care or service or duplicative care and service that might already be provided elsewhere. Priority has also been given to develop transitional housing through Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDO's) and to establish a supportive housing special needs set aside. The focus will be to provide assistance to the elderly and frail elderly, and persons with mental, physical and developmental disabilities including HIV/Aids families.
One of the requirements of the Consolidated Plan is for the County to describe the impact that will be made by the County's housing policies on those living at or below the poverty line. Furthermore, how will the preservation and expansion of affordable housing be coordinated with other programs in the County that are structured to assist those living at the poverty line.
The Will County Board has passed a resolution supporting and designating the Will County Center for Community Concerns as the County's Community Action Agency. This designation allowed the CCC to administer a number of anti-poverty social services programs at the County level. These programs range form employment training, emergency food and shelter, weatherization, small business, utility assistance and housing.
The Will County Board has consistently supported the funding of housing rehabilitation grants and public services over the last three Program Years. The County expects to continue to use CDBG, ESG and HOME resources.
Will County implements its housing and community development plan through a network of local government agencies, private entities, and not-for-profit organizations as listed below:
(1) Local Government
(2) Not-For-Profit Organizations
(3) Private Companies
Community Development Block Grant - Funding Requests
ADA Modifications - Beecher - $58,300
Storm Sewer Improvements - Joliet Twp. - $100,000
Water main extension - Homer Twp. - $100,000
Street improvements - Crest Hill - $100,000
Storm sewer improvements - Lockport Twp - $100,000
Low income medical clinic - County wide - $100,000
Watermain extension - Monee - $50,000
Drainage improvements - Wesley Twp - $50,000
Water main replacement - Peotone - $50,000
Drainage improvements - Crete - $50,000
Storm sewer improvements - Crete Twp. - $50,000
Water main replacement - Manhattan - $35,000
Storm sewer improvements - Wilmington - $50,000
Drainage improvements - Lockport - $50,000
Fernwood Association improvements - Bolingbrook - $50,000
Water main improvements - Channahon - $38,500
Storm sewer improvements - Rockdale - $45,400
Water main improvements - Shorewood - $50,000
Housing rehabilitation - County wide - $160,000
Public services - County wide - $175,000
Economic Development - County wide - $275,000
Health & Sanitation - County wide - $70,000
Homeless - $59,800
Fair Housing - $35,000
Demolition/blight removal - County wide - $35,000
Planning & Administration - $335,000
Will County Home Program
First Time Homebuyer - $100,000
Housing Rehabilitation - $175,000
Rental Assistance - $75,000
Transitional Housing - $91,900
Program Administration - $49,100
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.
Ronald J. Pullman,
Community Development Director
302 N. Chicago St.
Joliet, IL 60432
Tel. (815) 727-2332
Fax. (815) 727-2341