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posted: 6/12/2018 5:35 AM

St. Charles considering partnership with Kane County affordable housing program

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St. Charles could soon have a hand in a Kane County program that provides financial assistance to affordable housing developers.

The planning and development committee on Monday unanimously backed allocating $500,000 in designated city funds toward county-administered efforts to create and maintain affordable housing. About $416,000 would go into the Kane County Affordable Housing Fund, where the money would be used to offer gap financing for qualified projects within St. Charles, city planner Ellen Johnson said.

The remaining amount would be divided between two city housing programs that would be managed by the county under the proposed intergovernmental agreement, she said. The programs, one of which is new for the city, offer loans to help income-eligible residents buy or make necessary repairs to their homes.

"This has been a long time in the making," said Rita Tungare, community and economic development director. "Our housing commission and city council have had an ongoing effort to maintain and increase our affordable housing stock in St. Charles."

City code requires residential developers to either incorporate affordable housing into their projects or pay a fee, which goes into a housing trust fund, Tungare said. That fund has accumulated more than $730,000 in the last decade.

Partnering with Kane County allows the city to put those revenues into more qualified hands, Alderman Ron Silkaitis said.

Under the proposed deal, developers would submit plans for an affordable housing project to the county, where they would be evaluated and recommended by the Kane-Elgin HOME Commission. All St. Charles projects would have to be approved by the city's housing commission before being awarded any housing trust dollars.

Additionally, the agreement allows the chairwoman of the St. Charles Housing Commission to serve on the Kane-Elgin HOME Commission, which Tungare says offers another level of oversight for the city.

The county would then be responsible for issuing the loan documents and overseeing the project. The city would reimburse the county once the work is completed, officials said.

"I think this is a great idea. We've had this money in our account for years, and I'd like to see it out there," Silkaitis said. "I'm glad that the housing commission is going to be in charge of this instead of us. They're more qualified than we are."

The city council is expected to vote on the measure next week.