Elmhurst Needs Affordable Housing, Officials Agreed

ELMHURST, IL – Elmhurst’s need for affordable housing came up during Monday’s City Council debate over letting a homeowner merge lots to tear down a historic house and build anew.

The house is at 292 S. Arlington Ave., with the owners paying $2 million for it. It’s doubtful any lower-cost housing will go up on that street, where many new larger houses have been built.

But Alderman Rex Irby said he feared allowing the consolidation of lots would set a precedent.

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The worry is such a precedent could lead to other lot mergers, allowing for bigger houses that will make Elmhurst increasingly unaffordable for homeowners.

Elmhurst Mayor Scott Levin (second from left) said Monday that affordable housing was among the City Council’s priorities. (David Giuliani/Patch)

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As of 2022, Elmhurst’s median-valued home cost $516,900, more than double the statewide median, according to the U.S. Census.

Officials have repeatedly acknowledged that local housing is becoming costlier.

In January, Mayor Scott Levin said Elmhurst was becoming a “boon” for neighboring Villa Park. That’s where the median home price is $293,400.

“We have people who want to downsize. There aren’t a whole lot of ranches out there that you can downsize and pay $300,000 for,” the mayor said in his State of the City address. “I think we’re going to be the biggest boon for Villa Park because that’s where people wind up, being next door to Elmhurst.”

Earlier this year, Elmhurst bought two houses near the Spring Road business district to address flooding and parking. One of the sellers, Rita Lindstrom, later told Patch she moved to Villa Park because the housing was less expensive.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the mayor said the council has listed housing affordability among its priorities.

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“What happens when you want to downsize? Are there places to do that?” he said.

The city, he said, was working on a project with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. The group is lending its expertise to examine Elmhurst’s housing stock.

During the meeting, Elmhurst resident Christie Ainge spoke against the lot merger, saying the city needed more affordable housing. She also submitted a written statement.

“I would like to say that I am a product of Elmhurst’s once affordable housing,” Ainge said in the statement. “Elmhurst and the Immaculate Conception Parish welcomed my grandparents and their children, refugees from a war.”

She continued, “They fell in love with this City and are so extremely proud of it. Unfortunately, as they aged they were not able to stay in Elmhurst, but greatly wished they could have.”

Later in the meeting, Alderman Guido Nardini, an Elmhurst native, said Ainge was right in her comments about affordable housing.

According to a state report last year, 9.4 percent of Elmhurst’s housing was considered affordable, up from 9.3 percent in 2014.

The council voted 12-1 for the rezoning of 292 S. Arlington.

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