Kendall County is the most expensive county in Illinois to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to a recently released study.
“Out of Reach 2018: The High Cost of Housing,” a report prepared by the Illinois by Housing Action Illinois and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, examined the amount that renters would need to earn per hour in order to afford their housing. The report found that in order to afford the fair market rent of $1,058 for a two-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30 percent of income on housing, the household must earn $3,525 monthly, or $42,304 annually – a statewide housing wage of $20.34 per hour.
At $23.56 per hour, Kendall County’s housing wage is the highest in the state – higher than the Chicago/Joliet/Naperville area, which comes in at $22.69 per hour. To afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent, a minimum-wage worker would have to work 99 hours a week, earning $49,000 a year. To afford a one-bedroom rental property at fair market rent – $887 – an individual would need to work 83 hours a week at a minimum-wage position, or 2.1 full-time jobs.
The housing wages for specific communities were also released in the report. Oswego comes in the highest in the county, at $28.08 per hour, followed by Montgomery/Boulder Hill at $23.46 per hour and Yorkville at $20 per hour.
There is an increase in multi-family housing coming to the county, as Oswego and Montgomery advance plans for apartment complexes – one at the former Alexander Lumber yard in downtown Oswego, another behind the Wal-Mart on Route 34, and one at Route 30 and Route 34 in Montgomery. Local leaders have expressed hope that the pending projects will help to diversify the local housing options.
Oswego Village Administrator Daniel Di Santo acknowledged he was surprised when asked about the county’s placement at the top of the “Out of Reach 2018" list.
“You never want to be on a list to say you’re at the higher end of affordability. ... It honestly surprised me,” he said. “I’m used to thinking of Oswego as affordable, so it was surprising to see on the rental side – not so much.”
The possible reason for Oswego’s high ranking, Di Santo said, could be the lack of multi-family housing in the village.
“We just don’t have much. We are a bedroom community with a lot of single-family houses,” he said.
Currently, the only large-scale rental apartment complex with no age restrictions located within the village’s corporate limits is Farmington Lakes, just east of Douglas Road.
But the current lack of multi-family housing is not an indication that Oswego officials are opposed to having more apartments built in the village.
“You may have heard us talking in recent weeks and years about how we want more diverse housing options in Oswego,” Di Santo said. “When I say diverse, I mean all kinds of diversity, in terms of income, in terms of types of product, in terms of senior housing, family housing, we want to be attractive to millennials for housing.”
Di Santo also addressed the stigmas associated with apartment housing.
“People associate, rightly or wrongly, affordable housing or low-income housing as crime, drug problems,” he said. “The other stigma is, some people, and I’ve heard this from people in the school district, that they’re convinced that studies are wrong, and people are packing into these apartments and are having tons of children.”
Di Santo expressed hope that the apartments planned for development in the village would be in the price range for a “young, working millennial.”
“We want more diverse housing options, we want apartments, we want townhomes, we want senior housing,” Di Santo said. “We don’t want to exclude anybody from living in Oswego. We want to bring in as many people as we can.”
In Montgomery, which approved an apartment complex in January along the north side of Route 30 at Goodwin Drive, Village Administrator Jeff Zoephel also expressed surprised at the report’s findings, especially when the cost of monthly rent is compared to a typical home mortgage.
"We’ve tried to provide a diversity of types of housing,” Zoephel said, noting the presence of duplexes, single-family homes and townhomes. “We’ve tried to diversify in that way, to have a wide range of housing stock. “
When asked what options were available to renters who were at the lower end of the pay scale without falling into the “low-income” bracket, Zoephel said that the village has tried to bring more jobs into town that “will provide a higher wage than somebody ... working at a fast-food restaurant.”
“That’s something that has been important to the mayor ... trying to bring in good-paying jobs into town,” Zoephel said. “We’ve looked at trying to provide a variety of types of housing.”
Construction is expected to start on the Route 30 apartments in July, with apartments anticipated to be available in the late spring or early summer of 2019. Pricing has not been determined, but is expected to begin around $1,000 per month, according to village officials.
Kendall County: Cost of living
Included in this list are apartment complexes in Kendall County. Condominiums and townhomes have been excluded from the list. The prices listed are current as of July 2.
Shore Heights Village Apartments, 1800 Light Road, Oswego:
1br 1b: $850 (utilities included)
2br 1b: $895 to $995 (utilities included)
Farmington Lakes, 2000 Farmington Lakes Drive, Oswego:
1br 1b: $1,108 to $1,589 (utilities not included)
2br 2b: $1,620 to $1,844 (utilities not included)
The Reserve at Fox River, 1222 Market Place Drive, Yorkville:
2br 1b: $1,292 to $1,375 (some utilties included)
Boulder Hill Apartments, 4 Rocky Way, Montgomery:
1br 1b: $780 (some utilities included)
2br 1b: $960 to $990 (some utilities included)
Victorian Apartments, 834 Victoria Drive, Montgomery:
Studio 1b: $750 (some utilities included)
1br 1b: $950 (some utilities included)
2br 1b: $1,250 (some utilities included)
Aurora at Summerfield, 1847 Clubhouse Drive, Aurora:
1br 1b: $1,199 to $1,399 (utilities not included)
2br 2b: $1,369 to $1,799 (utilities not included)