New Additions Funding Opportunities Projects Affiliated Centers Integrated Pest Management Research Publications

Living on the Edge: Housing Affordability in Kane and McHenry Counties near Chicago, Illinois

Project Period:

3 years 1998-12-01 - 2001-09-01

Principal Investigator:

Dr. J. Dixon Esseks and Ann Sorensen, CAE

The hunt for affordable homes is forcing Chicago area residents further and further out into prime farmland. We wanted to determine if this sprawl is due to exclusionary land use policies established by local governments. We looked at the incidence of four local land use regulations that inflate housing prices in 38 of the 52 municipalities in McHenry and Kane counties: minimum lot size, minimum lot width, minimum front setback and minimum right-of-way for subdivision streets. We also analyzed data on actual home sales from January 1999 through September 2000.

Just 10 percent of the new subdivisions in McHenry County and only 15 percent in Kane County are within the reach of median income families. The lack of affordable housing makes it difficult for communities to attract critical service providers like teachers, nurses, police and fire fighters and impacts the quality of life. Policy makers are now reviewing our findings and recommendations. We also sent out a press release in partnership with Northern Illinois University. A summary can be found at The results of our research were covered by the local papers in the counties and by the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times.

American Farmland Trust