FILE - Home Sales Illinois, 2021

An advertising sign for building land stands in front of a new home construction site in Northbrook, Ill., Wednesday, June 23, 2021. 

(The Center Square) – For the last decade, the American dream of building a home and settling down didn't happen as often in Illinois as in other states.

A new report from the Illinois Policy Institute finds Illinois ranks 48th in the nation for home construction by population. The only states to have constructed fewer homes relative to their population since the Great Recession were Connecticut and New York.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, just more than 102,000 new single-family homes were built in Illinois from 2010 to 2020.

“It is no surprise to see Illinois lagging behind the rest of the nation when it comes to new home construction because unfortunately people continue to move out of the state, and without people, there is not really room to be building new houses,” said Bryce Hill, senior research analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute.

According to the research, prior to the 2008 housing crisis, Illinois averaged more than 40,000 permits for single-family homes annually. But in the decade since, Illinois built fewer than 10,000 new single-family homes each year.

Hill said one major reason why building homes in Illinois hasn’t made sense for an increasing number of families is the state has the second-highest property taxes in the country.

“The residents are getting fewer and fewer services in exchange for their tax bills because higher shares of property taxes and state tax dollars are going to pay for our unfunded pension liabilities,” Hill said.

The states that have seen the largest spike in new home construction during the decade were Florida, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Arizona, according to the report.

Recently, a lack of inventory is forcing some to build from the ground up. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the count of single-family homes currently under construction is 675,000, up 32% compared to a year ago.

New construction projects are picking up in Illinois, but not as robustly as in other states. In Chicago, for example, home construction is up 85% since 2009. But a check of similar cities shows Atlanta is up 428%, Phoenix is up 268% and Miami is up 241%.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.