The Kane County Workforce Housing Summit brought real estate, education, transportation, health care, staffing services and social service representatives together this week to improve the quantity and quality of affordable housing for residents.

REALTOR® Association of the Fox Valley (RAFV) President Miguel Ángel Fernández of HomeSmart Connect, LLC, in Elgin shared housing data from the National Association of REALTORS® during a panel discussion designed to identify the need for more affordable housing in Kane County communities. His successor, president-elect Natalee Dismuke of Realty One Group Excel in Aurora, was also on-hand to gather information.

“In order for our county to thrive, we need to identify barriers that prevent us from providing workforce housing in Kane County and remove them,” he said. “We can take a proactive approach to keeping people who work in the community, living in the community.”

Kane County, located in the western Chicago suburbs, is the fifth most populous county in Illinois. Of the roughly 30 municipalities that it contains, Aurora and Elgin are the largest. Geneva is the county seat.

“We want to ensure our workforce – not only for our government employees but also our teachers, nurses, librarians and service workers – have the opportunity to work and live here in the community they support,” said Kane County Chairman Corinne Pierog.

The day-long event drew a crowd of about 70 people, according to Illinois REALTORS® Local Governmental Affairs Director Jeff Merrinette, who represents RAFV when he interacts with community leaders in Kane County.

Merrinette and Pierog have both supported a community discussion about improving affordable housing locally. About five months ago, Pierog asked her staff for ideas to advance that conversation. The end result was a summit that featured three panel discussions and concluded with a Kane County Committee of the Whole meeting that included an address by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Diane Shelley.

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