DeKalb housing study to be presented tonight

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb needs more homes that cost more than $242,000. The city also needs rental units cheaper than $500 a month, and more expensive than $1,250.

Those are among the findings of a housing study community leaders will see at a special meeting tonight. The study analyzes city residents, their demographics and the available housing.

In spring 2012, the city of DeKalb and Northern Illinois University teamed up for a project led by two research associates at NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies, Shannon Sohl and Jennifer Groce. Groce also is running for DeKalb mayor. The study found the city’s housing stock is 56 percent rental units and 44 percent owner-occupied units. Of the rental units, about two-thirds are multifamily apartment units, a quarter are single-family units, and 6 percent are mixed-use and rooming houses.

Most of the city’s rentals are around NIU. Not only are these neighborhoods the most densely populated in the city, they also contain the youngest residents with the lowest incomes. The study found residents who are older and have more money live in the outermost neighborhoods to the north and south. The study also indicates there could be a glut of homes with a fair market value between $81,000 and $241,000, and rental units between $500 and $1,250.

City Manager Mark Biernacki was surprised by the number of houses that had converted from owner-occupied to rental housing.

“It’s something we sensed was occurring, but the extent that it was occurring it had surprised us,” Biernacki said.

Groce said the study will look at different “stress factors” among DeKalb residents and the various houses and apartments in the city.

“We have a very concentrated amount of low-income and subsidized housing in a certain area of our community,” Groce said. “There are some challenges resulting in those neighborhoods, not necessarily because of income, but because of other factors.”

If you go

WHAT: Special Meeting of the DeKalb City Council

WHEN: 6 p.m. today

WHERE: DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

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