City of Jacksonville To Begin Workforce Housing Study

By Benjamin Cox on September 20, 2023 at 9:50am

Dwight Burdette/Wikimedia Commons

The City of Jacksonville is using a Covid-19 pandemic economic recovery grant to help rebuild the city’s workforce.

The Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery program created in the Illinois Department of Commerce in Economic Opportunity last year provided grants to local governments and economic development organizations around the state to create or update economic plans to promote economic recovery from the pandemic.

The City of Jacksonville received $75,000 through the grant program to implement a transformational planning project to provide stable, affordable housing that is at a shortage within the city.

City Planner Brian Nyberg says the city council approved the first step in the process on Monday night: “These funds are going to be used to find locations for workforce or affordable housing that we can use to solve our workforce shortage crisis that we have in Jacksonville. There is so many different businesses in Jacksonville where they don’t have enough of a workforce that they need. Reynolds is a huge one. That’s one of the things that we noticed during Covid as far as an area [the city] needs help with, and that’s workforce housing to help the different businesses in Jacksonville. This grant is going specifically toward that problem in hopes of finding different locations in the city for housing projects.”

The city council unanimously approved TEC Services Consulting, Incorporated on September 11 to perform a housing study to help the planning office locate parcels of property that would fit this workforce housing initiative.

Nyberg says the study will filter into the city’s overall comprehensive housing plan, which is expected to be in place for the next decade once it’s finalized: “We have the housing that we did through the Illinois Housing Development Authority [IDHA] that will be part of the city’s comprehensive plan. We will use the IDHA housing study for this plan with this consultant. There are already certain locations and areas that we need to place housing in and that we have a housing crisis in those certain areas. The consultant will look at those areas and we will try to find multiple locations. Then, hopefully, we will be able to get some more grants through IDHA or the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development [HUD] to solve some of this workforce housing that we have in Jacksonville.”

Nyberg says he already has several locations in the city where there is a deficiency in affordable housing or is a prime location for affordable housing to help with the workforce. Nyberg hopes that after the studies and meetings that follow with them are completed, money will follow to get more housing built: “There will be multiple cities and municipalities that will be putting a larger study forward. We are all hoping that the money will follow to implement some of these plans. I’m not sure how much, or who will get approved, or how much money is coming down the entire pipeline but that’s the thought and the goal that after we get this study completed, to find locations to place these housing projects. The hope is that there will be some infrastructure or some money to seed these projects.”

He says a meeting with consultants starts the process this week, and then, more information to the city will follow.