LAKE FOREST — Construction and a partnership between the city and Community Partners for Affordable Housing will increase the number of affordable housing units in Lake Forest from six to 22 in the next few years.
The Lake Forest City Council on October 2 unanimously approved a continuation of the partnership and authorized spending up to $335,000 from the Housing Trust Fund to add two houses to mix of affordable housing.
Along with affordable housing, some council members showed little interest in the plea of Alderman Melanie Rummel to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 as Lake County and some nearby municipalities have already done.
Lake Forest has six affordable housing units built in conjunction with Community Partners, according to Catherine Czerniak, the city’s director of community development.
Housing Trust Fund Chairman and former Mayor Donald Schoenheider told the council 14 affordable housing units are already under construction. He said 12 are going up now as part of the Kelmscott Park project at the northwest corner of Western and Laurel Avenues. The other two are being built on McKinley Road just east of downtown.
The apartments at Kelmscott Park—three two-bedroom units and nine with one bedroom—were a requirement imposed on the developer by the city.
While those 14 units are built, Schoenheider said, the city will start to look for sites with Community Partners to purchase two existing houses, which will be renovated and turned into affordable units for approximately $150,000 each.
“This will increase opportunities for households headed by a single parent, school teachers, coaches and some municipal workers,” said Schoenheider. “A coach from Lake Forest College lives in one with his family,” he added referring to the existing city stock.
Along with acting as stewards of the Housing Trust Fund, Schoenheider said he and the other two board members will work with community partners like the college and hospital to identify needs.
As part of the agreement with Community Partners, Schoenheider said the organization will also act as a consultant to the city on affordable housing matters. The agreement includes a $5,000 fee for the advising.
The current balance in the fund is $725,879 with another $650,000 expected from the developers of Kelmscott Park when the first building is ready for occupancy late this year or early next year, according to Schoenheider. That means the money committed to Community Partners is approximately 25 percent of the fund.
Czerniak said in addition to the city’s affordable housing stock there are also units at both Lake Forest College and Lake Forest Academy for members of those communities.
Alderman Prue Beidler said she was happy with the idea but asked Schoenheider if houses were identified for the two Community Partners purchases or it was a future idea.
“It’s a combination of both,” said Schoenheider. “We have some properties in mind but we have to find out how to make it work.”
Push To Raise Age To Buy Tobacco Products Gets Cold Shoulder
Rummel said raising the age to legally purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 will make it harder for high school age youth and some even younger children to get cigarettes. She calls it a public health issue.
“It will reduce the number of people who are around to buy cigarettes for younger high school students,” said Rummel. “It goes down to the junior high level. There are not a lot of 21-year-olds still in high school. If they don’t get started young there’s less chance they’ll get addicted just like alcohol.”
Alderman Jack Reisenberg said the council talked about increasing the age in the past though it was never on the agenda. Though he does not dispute the health issues, he said it is not something the city should regulate.
Aldermen Stanford Tack and Michelle Moreno agreed with Reisenberg while Beidler and Alderman Raymond Buschmann said they were willing to study the issue more closely and become educated.