With Evanston aldermen scheduled Monday to review the city’s affordable housing programs, here’s a look at how housing affordability has changed over the past several years.

Spending more than 30 percent of income on housing is considered by many advocates to be an indication of being over-burdened by housing costs, although households with below average transportation costs may be be able to comfortably carry somewhat higher housing costs.

Data from the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the share of Evanston residents who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing changed between 2010 and 2015 — declining for homeowners with mortgages, but increasing for homowners without mortgages and for renters.

The changes were fairly modest, and all fall within the margin of error for the survey.

For comparison here’s a look at the same data for our neighbor to the west, Skokie.

Skokie showed an even sharper drop in the share of owners of mortgaged homes who spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing — and sharper increases in the share of cost burdened mortgage-free homeowners and renters.

The changes in Skokie for both groups of homeowners exceeded the survey’s margin of error but the change for renters did not.

In Evanston, the survey indicates there was a shift between 2010 and 2015 away from ownership of a mortgaged home and toward being a renter that was big enough to exceed he survey’s margin of error. The survey says that in 2015 in Evanston 1,400 more households were renters than had rented in 2010, while 1,521 fewer households had mortgaged homes.

The number of homeowners here without mortgages increased by 467 during the period, but that increase wasn’t quite large enough to exceed the margin of error.

There were similar but smaller changes in Skokie.

About 45 percent of Evanston households are renters, while only 27 percent of Skokie households are tenants. At $66,999, the median household income in Skokie is somewhat lower than the $70,041 median in Evanston.

The median value of an owner-occupied housing unit in Evanston is $348,600 compared to $278,600 in Skokie.

The median apartment rent in Evanston is $1,200 compared to $1,129 in Skokie.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Source for that median rent figure?

    Back in 2015, Evanston Now reported area median rent wash over $1400. Where is the current $1200 figure coming from? Zillow, city data, no other source cites such a low figure.

    1. ACS

      Same source as the rest of the data in the story — the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

      Links are in the story.

      — Bill

  2. Hard to see clearly through the SMOC

    SMOC is “Selected Monthly Owner Costs” is what is used for owned housing units in the study.  It consist of mortgage payments, insurance, tax, hoa fees, and utilities.  Costs for renters is gross rent.

    It is not meaningful to compare renters with owners.  Renters did not have to come up with a big down payment and pay closing costs before they moved in.  Renters also do not have equity tied up in the place they live putting a big part of their savings at risk.  Rent is expected be be more b/c of those economic costs.

    Also interesting (to me) is that source data shows that it would be incorrect to characterize Evanston as a city of single family dwellings.  There are almost as many housing units in buildings with 20 or more units as there are 1-unit, detached housing units in Evanston.  Also the majority of housing units are in buildings with 2 or more units.  Based on public discussions whenever someone wants to build an apartment or multi-use building, one would not get that impression.

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