From AP - News Headlines -

Champaign City Council Approves Firm for Regional Housing Study

The Champaign City Council took a step toward addressing area housing problems Tuesday night --- by voting to hire a consultant to conduct a regional study of the issue.

Plans for the study were first announced last November, after Champaign County was hit by a slew of housing crises --- the sudden closures of Rantoul's Autumn Glen and Champaign's Gateway Studios apartments, a narrowly averted financial crisis at Restoration Urban Ministries and the Safe Haven group of homeless people who defied zoning regulations by living as a tent community. Champaign City Council Member Deb Feinen says the study will give them a fresh look at the countywide housing situation.

"It seems to me before we can make any changes, or start trying to figure out what type of housing should be provided, we need to know what's going on and what currently exists", Feinen said during the council meeting. "So updating our information is a great start."

Champaign, Urbana, Champaign County, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission and the Housing Authority of Champaign County will pay an Columbus, Ohio-based consulting firm Vogt Santer Insights Ltd. $45,000 to do the study. The city of Champaign's portion will be $21,411. Other groups, including the Champaign County Realtors Association and the United Wat of Champaign County, will also be asked to contribute.

Champaign Neighborhood Programs Manager Kerri Spear says their current analysis of the area housing situation is based on the 2000 census. She says the study will provide projections based on other, more recent data sources, until new census figures on housing are available in a couple of years. Results of the study are expected this coming November.