Despite some misgivings about the high cost, Evanston aldermen Monday approved spending $579,000 in federal and city funds for a not-for-profit group to buy and rehab a two-flat apartment building for affordable housing.

Kim Ulbrich, the executive director of the Highland Park-based non-profit, Community Partners for Affordable Housing, said there’s a great need to help people who are working, but only making 60 to 80 percent of area median income — the income group targeted by the proposed project.

Alderman Don Wilson said he was concerned about how few people would benefit from the money spent. “I’d rather help a larger number,” Wilson said.

But in the absence of an alternative proposal for spending the money, and facing a mid-year deadline to either commit to the project or lose a small portion of the federal funds for it, the aldermen voted unanimously to approve it.

During public comment several speakers praised CPAH’s work.

Carla Spenser.

Carla Spenser said it had been very hard, as a single mother, to afford housing for her four children. But she said she now has an affordable home under a CPAH program and that her kids are now thriving.

Chuck Robb.

Chuck Robb said CPAH had helped him get an affordable home at 1941 Jackson St. “Without programs like this, the character of Evanston will change,” Robb said.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, suggested that program rules that let tenants remain in the apartment if their incomes increase — as long as they still pay 30 percent of their income for rent — could result in people sticking around after they no longer needed a subsidy — effectively denying assistance to somewhat who needed it more.

But a CPAH official said tenants whose incomes increase typically move to market-rate units because they find they can afford a bigger unit once they’re earning more.

The aldermen also unanimously approved renewal of a federally funded program that provides up to two years of rental subsidies to families with children in which the adults are underemployed..

The Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program is administerred by Connections for the Homeless. The new $250,000 funding for the program will provide housing subsidies for ten additional families for two years.

The goal of that program is to transition participants into market rate housing by helping them during the two year program develop their capacity to earn a living wage.

Related story

Two affordable units to cost the city $579K (4/21/17)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Of course they approved it
    “Despite some misgivings about the high cost, Evanston aldermen Monday approved spending $579,000 in federal and city fund”

    “But in the absence of an alternative proposal for spending the money, and facing a mid-year deadline to either commit to the project or lose a small portion of the federal funds for it, the aldermen voted unanimously to approve it.”
    The Council and other officials don’t see it as “their money” i.e. coming out of their pockets, so they are willing to spend on anything that comes along no matter what the price—and let taxpayers bear the burden.
    They say “absence of an alternative” they will fund it. Don’t they do research ahead and find worthy project? Or is it like the usual government policy “we better spend our budget [no matter what the waste] or we won’t get the same/greater funds next year—and won’t look as important.”

      1. Home Funds

        Hi Jessica,

        Yes … two three-bedroom units … in one two-flat building. Not two free-standing single-family homes.

        — Bill

          1. CPAH

            Hi Ann,

            Page 183 of the 5/22/17 Council packet:

            “CPAH is requesting two forgivable loans in a not to exceed amounts of $252,662 in HOME Investment Partnership funds and $326,502 in Affordable Housing Fund funds from the City of Evanston to acquire and rehabilitate two units of housing …”

            “The properties CPAH has looked into acquiring range in price from $365,000 to $449,000 for two and three bedroom two-flats. “

            So I supposed one could argue that they don’t necessarily have to be in a two-flat … and you could argue that they don’t necessarily have to be three-bedroom units. But the the thrust of the discussion Monday night was that they most likely would be three-bedroom units and most likely would be in a two-flat building.

            — Bill

  2. How about an affordable property tax program?

    It’s time for the city to create an affordable property tax fund for us property owners hard hit with the never ending rising taxes. The city could dip into the apparently abundant affordable housing funds to kick start this much need program. Imagine how many more voters these elected city officials could attract.

    How about starting the affordable property tax fund with the $569,000, rather than spending it on two housing units.

    BTW – I know a landlord who has able bodied tenants who pay 10 percent of the monthly rent. Guess who pays the rest? HUD. Does HUD have a program that would pay 90 percent of my property taxes?

    Why does Evanston need more affordable housing anyway? Go to this website and you will find 8 listed available low income buildings-

    Then we have Brinshore rental properties, stemming from a federal $18 million neighborhood restabilization program in 2010. They have about 50 rental properties Of course there’s the new 32 unit Emerson Square affordable housing development.

    Evanston city officials have created a cottage industry of govermental rental subsidies. I would love to know how many Evanston rentals involve some type of governmental subsidy. Probably a high percentage.

    Every time a home is razed in Evanston the owner has to kick in $10,000 to the city’s affordable housing fund. It’s called Evanston’s Affordable Housing Demolition Tax. This tax decreases the value of homes as determined by the United States Court of Appeals,Seventh Circuit in a lawsuit filed against the City of Evanston (Michael L. KATHREIN and Victoria Kathrein v. CITY OF EVANSTON, ILLINOIS).

    Evanston’s affordable housing policies hit property owners in two ways – the city’s affordable housing policies decreases the value of property ripe for redevelopment AND property owners are slammed with high taxes to pay for in part the city’s massive subsidy programs.

    I am not sure why folks keep voting in the status quo. I suppose most Evanstonians are overtaxed braying sheeple. Maybe they’ll stir a bit if our city officials begin the affordable property tax fund.

    And why not? Our city officials just love creating more goverment programs.

    How about it, Wally?

    1. Who winds up paying
      The city gets builders to either have ‘affordable’ units or pay a fee [aka fine]. Either way those who pay full rent, pay [what would be] normal rent + the amount of rent not paid by the affordable care renters. E.g. Normal Rate=X, Affordable Rate=Y, 10 units with 2 Affordable, Regular rate renters pay X+(X-Y)/2
      If HUD or someone else pays the difference [X-Y], then who really pays ? That is right the taxpayers. The Council and other bodies and those who have some ‘society’ or other program [theaters, art work, etc.] think money from government grants and such is ‘free’ money from heaven. No it is by taxpayers but they make it sound like it magically comes from behind the screen and no one actually pays.’
      This is why Evanston, Chicago and the state are in such bad condition—government spends like it is free money, then taxpayers have to bail out the politicians agenda [many times passed so they look good at elections and hope taxpayers forgot the expense or it is pushed so far into the future that the official is out of office. Example ONE—Pensions.
      It is easy to talk about the need for affordable housing [defined as teachers/police or those in poverty depending on whose heart strings they want to pull at a given time]. However it comes back as higher taxes, higher rents, lower home prices, higher cost of living and eventually making it less desirable for people of all most all income levels to live in Evanston and so fewer to pay for programs—just wait until the real Pension bomb hits !.

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