Jonathan Nieuwsma.

Evanston’s City Council gave final approval Monday night to major revisions to the city’s housing regulations to provide a unified framework for licensing shared housing facilities, including homeless shelters.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said the proposed ordinance had been under development for 10 months.

The proposal is part of a three-part plan to provide regulation for the Margarita Inn homeless shelter, through a zoning code special use, the housing code license and a “good neighbor agreement” developed by the facility’s operator, Connections for the Homeless.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) praised Nieuwsma and city staff for developing the ordinance.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said the new ordinance will add enforcement teeth and standards to the city’s regulations.

She noted that language in a previous staff memo suggesting that co-housing arrangements would be subject to the ordinance had been dropped. She said those uses may not need licensing or operating agreements.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) claimed the licensing ordinance was being rushed through to aid the Margarita Inn and said the ordinance should specify standards for various different uses, rather than leaving those up to individualized licensing agreements.

Sarah Flax, the city’s interim community development director, said the city has roughly 82 facilities now that would be subject to the licensing ordinance and that 70 of them are dormitories.

She said very few new such uses are proposed in a given year and that staff would be able to manage the workload of developing the specific rules for any new ones that did arise.

The ordinance was approved 8-1 with Kelly casting the only no vote.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I watched last night’s City Council meeting, with Ald. Clare Kelly continually bringing up very salient and sensible points – and others, specifically Nieuwsma, *continually* ignoring her concerns – most specifically shutting her down with this shockingly casual rebuttal:

    “Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said the proposed ordinance had been under development for 10 months…”

    Simply shameful…

    Thank you, Ald. Kelly, for being “the only adult in the room”… and please let her know that you appreciate her stance on this issue.

    The actions of the City Council in this matter remind me a bit of what German playwright Bertolt Brecht famously wrote after the failed 1953 East German Worker’s Uprising (to protest increased work quotas imposed by their communist rulers):

    “Would it not in that case
    Be simpler for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?…”

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident and Margarita Inn “neighbor”

  2. Thank you council members for asking clarifying questions about number and frequency of uses for regulation. Also noting that this proposal has been in the works for over 10 months. If alders claim info that is incorrect, or throws out arguments to just inflame, it does not help improve decision making. Stick to the facts.

  3. You will always have a problem when you don’t use correct language in discussing an issue. “Shared housing”, “Homeless “ What we are really discussing are people who have chronic mental health issues. Many of the people the Margarita Inn houses could also be housed at Albany Care or Greenwood Care They are called psychiatric rehabilitation facilities and are licensed as such. The residents there are unable to work and so many wander the streets asking for money The language we use to describe a problem is very important

  4. Apparently the mayor and the majority of council members are perfectly fine with destroying a fine residential neighborhood steps away from commercial interests with massive blood, sweat, tears and investments already diminished with more losses to follow.


    Isn’t there a court order blocking this?

  5. Thank you Clare Kelly for sticking to the facts and being the only voice of reason on our City Council.

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