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Streator to work with agency to improve housing

Study will identify funding sources, needs

The city of Streator is going to turn part of its focus to developing additional housing over the next year.

The City Council will work with the Illinois Housing Development Authority while building a Community Housing Revitalization Strategy to find ways to increase the housing availabilities in the city and attract investors.

The city has included housing strategies in past years' comprehensive plans, but this would be the first separate plan built with the assistance of the IHDA.

“While that plan won’t automatically result in money back to the city, having it in place means we will be looked on more favorably for grants from IHDA or tax credits for developers who do housing programs with IHDA,” said City Manager Scot Wrighton.

Wrighton added he’s had conversations with two housing developers interested in sites in Streator but both expressed the need for IHDA tax credits for it to work. The IHDA is also looking to increase the number of projects south of Interstate 80, which makes Streator a prime candidate for growth.

The plan would be used to increase housing opportunities for “middle class” single-family homes in the range of $80,000 and $135,000, rehabilitate lower priced homes less than $80,000 that were built in the mid-1970s and assist with construction or rehabilitation of rental units for low to moderate income levels. Wrighton said it’s hopeful the city can reap the full benefits of job opportunities in the area if new workers end up living in Streator in a new home rather than commuting.

Councilman Joe Scarbeary agreed the number of workers commuting to Streator is high and wondered whether the city could buy land with tax increment financing money to give or offer incentives to encourage a major developer to select Streator.

Wrighton said the city has not done residential TIFs in the past but it's possible, and city staff has started breaching the topic with schools.

“They were initially reluctant, but I think they’re starting to come around,” Wrighton said. “Because they realize if done the right way it doesn’t necessarily take money away from them. It might add students because their state formula distribution is based on head count along with other factors. So if done the right way it could help the school districts.”

Wrighton said the city has a few places where they have large tracts of land but there are other areas where the owners would be interested in a similar project.

The study is expected to take eight months to a year for completion to come up with a strategy to identify housing needs and funding sources.

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