The Housing Issue in Monmouth, Illinois

Houses being constructed along East Jackson Avenue

Monmouth faces the issue of a lack of housing availability for incoming, young, newer families and plans to alleviate it by creating additional housing opportunities for residents from other income brackets.

The city is working to alleviate the housing issue in a three-prong process. The first part is to work to provide more affordable housing for lower-income families that meet the criteria. 

According to Hank Shimmin, a member of the Warren County Housing Authority, “We see that issue as we have difficulty finding enough private rental opportunities for our Section 8 / Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.”

The new Section 8 housing property is located north of Oak Terrace and Costello Terrace. “The new housing complex will greatly add to Monmouth and Warren County. Brand new with amenities such as garages, they will be very attractive and a nice addition. 44 total units (1, 2, 3, & 4 bedroom units),” said Shimmin.

“We’ve got what we call the Monmouth Town Homes, and those are 44 rental units that will house income-qualified families,” said Lew Steinbrecher, Monmouth city administrator. “And we’re talking about working families, but you know, families that don’t have $100,000 a year job, you know, these are probably young professionals that are just starting out or their families where the parents may be working at Smithfield or at the pet food plant.”

According to the Housing Authority, Monmouth residents are interested in this housing section in the works. “I was told that they have 90+ applications,” said Shimmin.

The second prong of the process to create more housing availability is to build a new subdivision of houses that tier toward older, more affluent families. The Monmouth City Administrator’s office is facilitating this initiative.

“We’ve also been working really hard in the last four years to track a developer for a new single-family subdivision. Now we’ve got a developer out of the quad cities, we’ve got a home builder out of Peoria, and we think we’ve got an interested farmer willing to sell some land,” sais Steinbrecher.

According to Steinbrecher, the city has income brackets for people who can afford $350,000 homes in new subdivision, which “will free up some of the older homes that are here in town, so that younger families that have still have children will now open up a lot of these older two-story homes that we have in town for young families while the older empty nesters who have more income, more resources can move into a nicer, more expensive house,” said Steinbrecher.

The third prong of the process is moving younger, newer families into the vacated housing. The issue’s core lies in a lack of available housing for middle-class families.

“We did a housing study back finished in 2018… and it showed that we have a demand for between 75 and 90 new single-family homes,” says Steinbrecher. The housing gap sits in that middle-class range.

Opening up space in single-family homes will aid newer, incoming middle-class families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Monmouth is $50,760, which is significantly lower than the national average, which is $64,994.

Due to the lower number of businesses in Monmouth, there is a lack of job opportunities and higher-paying jobs. This directly affects how much community members can pay for housing in Monmouth.

According to the City Administrator’s Office and the Warren County Housing Administration, there is hope for improvement in the near future. 

“We believe that the market is here, and we’re working hard on that. We’re hoping to keep our fingers crossed, and we can, you know, have some announcements in the next spring. But it’s just been very difficult because there aren’t any local land developers or home builders that know the Monmouth market,” said Steinbrecher.

Anita Gándara, Lina Jursa, Alexandria King, Ali Vorhies

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