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All precincts report on referendum

With votes reported from all precincts — but absentee ballots still to be counted — Evanston’s referendum to increase the real estate transfer tax 20 percent to fund affordable housing programs is losing by a 798 vote margin.

With votes reported from all precincts — but absentee ballots still to be counted — Evanston’s referendum to increase the real estate transfer tax 20 percent to fund affordable housing programs is losing by a 798 vote margin.

City Clerk Mary Morris says it’s highly unlikely that the absentee votes, which won’t be counted until later this month, would change the outcome.

The current vote totals are 10,528 ‘yes’ votes to 11326 ‘no’ votes.

The addition of the final two precincts to report — one from the 5th Ward one from the 7th Ward — had no impact on the vote margin.

Ms. Morris said it appears almost all the referendum questions in the county — especially those seeking tax increases — went down to defeat.

“I think to pass a referendum you really have to work and get people involved,” Ms. Morris said, “and I don’t think that happened here.”

“People already have to pay a lot of taxes in Evanston,” she said, “and it just wasn’t clear who was going to benefit from the increase. Also, a lot of people think we already have enough affordable or subsidized housing in Evanston.”

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said he was disappointed by the outcome, “but I think it was a result of not having enough time to explain the issue.”

He said aldermen might try to rework the referendum proposal to more clearly specify how the money would be used and submit it to voters again in next spring’s election.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she was surprised by the outcome. “This doesn’t seem to be the Evanston we thought we lived in,” Ald. Holmes said, “but after Darrow Corners I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

The Darrow Corners proposal for subsidized rental housing at Darrow Avenue and Church Street drew opposition from some immediate neighbors and ultimately was rejected by the City Council earlier this year.

Ald. Holmes said she hadn’t thought about what to do next to address the problem of housing affordability.

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