Affordable-housing program to put emphasis on rent assistance

Affordable-housing program to put emphasis on rent assistance

URBANA – A local program to promote affordable housing for low-income households will have greater emphasis on rental assistance for the coming year.

John Schneider, community development grants manager for Urbana, said many comments during a series of hearings and Urbana neighborhood meetings reflected a need for help with rent costs.

"We found there was an increasing need for tenant-based rental assistance," Schneider said.

Factors causing a gap between rent costs and the ability of people to pay include the recession and a housing market skewed with higher rents due to the university, Schneider said. Other factors include families with too much debt and a tightening credit market.

"The burst of the housing bubble" also is a factor, he said.

Urbana is the lead agency in the HOME consortium, an investment partnership in cooperation with the city of Champaign and Champaign County to meet community needs for low-income housing.

Increasing the supply of affordable housing is the top goal based on community comments.

Many of the housing and community development goals and strategies are the same as last year's plan, but tenant-based rental assistance now tops the list of strategies to meet the goal of affordable housing for low-income families.

More in Tuesday's News-Gazette.

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