Some aldermen Monday night suggested that requiring new planned developments to include affordable housing on site would help end economic segregation in Evanston. It’s an interesting argument, but one that ignores where most new development is taking place.
It turns out that large new multi-family housing developments in Evanston — the ones that are treated as planned developments — are being built in some of the city’s more economically diverse neighborhoods.
Here’s a map of 2010 U.S. Census data showing the percentage of people in each census block group in Evanston with household incomes below $50,000. Darker shades of blue indicate higher percentages of low income residents. (As a reference point, the median income of Evanston households is $67,038 — so every household below $50,000 is significantly below the median.)
Map from policymap.com.
For the city as a whole 38.79 percent of households had incomes below $50,000. So any block group in the three darkest shades is between slightly and way over the citywide average for lower income households.
Across the city the percentage of households with incomes below that $50,000 threshold ranges from a low of 11.58 percent in one northwest Evanston neighborhood to 77.61 percent in a section of the 5th Ward near the Northwestern University campus.
Click on a marker to see details about each planned development.
Of the eight residential planned developments completed or approved since 2010 or now under review — the two on Central Street are in a census block group where 27.65 percent of households make less than $50,000 a year.
The four in the downtown area are in block groups with between 30.26 percent and 43.82 percent of households under the $50,000 income level.
And the two along Chicago Avenue in south Evanston are in block groups where between 40.89 percent and 43.77 percent of households have incomes under $50,000 a year.
So while requiring on-site subsidized units in planned developments in Evanston might increase diversity within a particular building, it would be unlikely to do anything to address the city’s oft-remarked upon “drive-by-diversity” issue — in which some neighborhoods are much more well to do than others.
Addressing that would require adding subsidized units in neighborhoods that generally don’t see planned developments.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect median household income figure for Evanston residents.
I am puzzled by the citys insistence that developers include "affordable housing" in thier high priced buildings. What are they really trying to accomplish here? People who can afford to live in these high priced buildings, are there to avoid rubbing shoulders with the poorer set. How does it help the financially challenged to live in a fancy building that they really cannot afford? Will there be money saving tips from the neighbors, lessons on how to buy the best caviar? All these new buildings are going up in the downtown area. The developers are not willing to build in the neighborhoods as that might affect their chance to maximize their investments. There are enough houses around that could be refurbished for the the people in need. Heres a novel idea, In exchange for not providing affordable units in their building why not have them refurbish a few properties and have the city find owners.
Requires Deeper Analysis
I appreciate this information and while reviewing it seems the data could be highly skewed because of the number of seniors and students located in the darkest census areas which are not a true representation of the poverty density. In looking at the same data and reviewing % of households earning less than $15k per year you see a much different picture on the northside of Evanston. That analysis shows that the highest percentage of low-income families are in the 2nd and 5th wards and are not in fact the areas seeing the large amount of multi-family development.
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