The primary mission of the Edwardsville Community Housing Alliance is to increase the supply of housing in Edwardsville that is accessible and affordable to persons and families.
In a gentrifying and prosperous community like Edwardsville, there are populations that can ultimately be left out of the housing market.
In addition to people who earn wages of $15 or less per hour, seniors and persons with disabilities may be left with few opportunities.
ECHA supports developing housing for all people not effectively served by the existing housing market.
To People Currently Looking for Affordable Housing in Edwardsville: We are a new organization and do not yet have the capacity to provide any housing—that is what we’re working to accomplish. Meanwhile, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide a few suggestions on who you might contact to find out about affordable units.
Who We Are
ECHA represents a timely cause, and our future depends on people joining the few of us who have begun this organization. To thrive we need committed local advocates and a Board of Directors, input from a variety of interests, and collaboration from City government.
Please consider joining us. There are many ways to help with this cause.
Our community can benefit from people who are:
- interested in educating themselves about affordable housing
- willing to host an educational event
- willing to interview people with lived experience
- willing to speak at a virtual or in-person public event
- willing to share personal or family members’ lived experience
- willing to learn about or visit existing housing developments and programs in other places etc.
- able to help conduct a survey
- able to serve on a board of directors that meets monthly
Some Background on Affordable Housing in Edwardsville
A timely reason to address affordable housing is the publication and support for the Race Relations and Equality Report issued by the City in December of 2020. There are multiple calls in the report for new efforts to address housing affordability:
From Mayor Patton: We must strike a balance between welcoming people to our community and the fear that comes with change. The NIMBY (not in my back yard) mentality and fear of crime and a decrease in property value can be overcome with education and planning. An AFFORDABLE HOUSING STUDY AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY needs to be completed for our community. The aldermen need to think outside the box and support policies and new standards that decrease the raw costs of these projects. Young professionals, young families, single parent households, those with disabilities and widowed seniors deserve opportunities for affordable and safe housing in Edwardsville.
From Jean McGurk O’Brien: Edwardsville has a shortage of affordable housing for seniors, for people with health or physical disabilities, for others living on lower income, young adults, single adult families, etc. This disproportionately impacts people in minority groups.
- Due to the wealth gap, the cost of housing in Edwardsville is pricing us out of diversity.
- One of the biggest challenges for affordable housing builders is obtaining approval from local authorities. The approval process needs to be reviewed and updated to lessen the over burdensome application process.
- If there is political will to increase the number of affordable housing units in Edwardsville then there are county and federal resources available to help make it happen. Political will and City encouragement will increase investor interest.
- The City needs to evaluate and reduce obstacles to affordable housing projects. Evaluate the negative impact of property taxes and building fees, reducing where possible. The City can find ways to encourage (or require) builders to include affordable housing in their plans. Look outside the box. Consider code changes such as requiring diverse lot and housing sizes and leaving more community green space/less yard space.
- The City might also find ways to assist homeowners with reduced income (seniors, etc) with accessing assistance for major home repairs.
Discrimination in Housing: Our community should look at the particular housing history of our area. There have been innumerable regulations, policies and actions – many overtly racist, some with hidden racist intent, and some simply with racist outcomes, all which have created the general de facto segregation in the Metro East.
- Our city needs to review and revise all regulations which impact housing discrimination.
- Consider further investigation and data collection regarding possible patterns of housing discrimination in the City. Incorporate additional questions in survey and public listening sessions to encourage sharing of possible housing discrimination in ownership and in rental situations. If it’s happening, we want to know about it.
- Find ways to promote and encourage reporting of housing discrimination to proper authorities such as Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC
From John Cunningham: I want to thank Mayor Patton and the Alderpersons for allowing our committee to address this worldwide concern among the people of our community and the world. Very important to our progress will be the continued dialogue with the focus groups that we engaged. They seemed open to recognize the lack of inclusion of marginalized persons in their arena and may need prompting or assistance to open their agenda to seek and allow broader participation from the community. Failure to embrace the humanity of racial diversity may cause our cities and country to slowly implode. The greatest enemy has always been the enemy within our own person.
The Race Relations and Equality Report is available through the City of Edwardsville’s website:
The City of Edwardsville had the foresight to address affordable housing in its Comprehensive Plan in 2010, which continues t0 provide a good basic framework for addressing current affordable housing needs.
In particular, the values stated in the Plan are excellent aspirational goals that ECHA shares:
On page 1 of the Introduction, the Plan states:
We are an inclusive community that provides opportunities for citizens of diverse cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds to participate in our high quality of life.
Under city-wide planning goals, page 5 Housing/Residential Development, the Plan states:
A variety of housing types and price ranges should be available within Edwardsville while maintaining a high quality and the housing stock to meet the needs of all income levels and age groups.
In the Plan’s Land Use [Residential] section, page 12, it states:
It is one of Edwardsville’s goals to provide a variety of housing opportunities for different age groups, family sizes, and incomes.
In the Plan’s Implementation Goals, pages 63-64, are the following items:
[0 to 3 years] Conduct an affordable housing study.
[4 to 7 years] Implement the recommendations of the affordable housing study.
You can view the 2010 Comprehensive Plan by clicking the link on this City webpage:
Edwardsville has historically been a more inclusive, integrated community than others in Madison County.
- Some local municipalities functioned as Sundown Towns [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundown_town ], with no tolerance for racial diversity.
- In the past, through its Human Relations Commission, Edwardsville made efforts to address de facto discrimination in housing.
- Current efforts to address the thorny issues of the role of racism and slavery are an indication that leaders in Edwardsville are interested in giving voice to multiple views and concerns often given little official recognition.
Like many communities that seek and promote growth of new residential and commercial development, Edwardsville’s successes have benefited some sectors and income groups while leaving others behind.
- Many of the jobs created are in the service sector, where wages often do not keep pace with the cost of living.
- Housing is the single greatest expense for most households, and safe and stable housing is the necessary foundation for positive outcomes in child development, education, employment, and family well-being.
- However, for persons and families earning at or near minimum wage levels, reliance on the housing market in a gentrifying community presents sometimes insurmountable obstacles to living where they work.
- This is a problem faced by many communities viewed as excellent places to live. Costs of land and competition for market rate housing make market-based solutions [such as: “Let the market take care of it.”] ineffective at keeping sufficient housing affordable and accessible to workers earning lower wages.
Every time you hear a local booster discuss another magazine tribute of Edwardsville as a wonderful, safe, comfortable place to raise a family, train yourself to think of the people who serve you and your family in restaurants, retail developments, childcare, senior care facilities, preschool, auto repair, recreational services, and so on.
Do you have a clear idea of what kinds of market rate housing are affordable and accessible to working families in Edwardsville?
Do you understand the dilemma faced by people and families who cannot accumulate a down payment or financial cushion through the wages they earn?
Their families deserve the same wonderful, safe, comfortable place to raise a family.