Assessing fairness in siting affordable housing


Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote soon on funding for a 16-unit affordable housing development at 2215 Dempster St. that has drawn sharp opposition from some neighbors.

As described by Britt Shawver, head of the non-profit developer, Housing Opportunities for Women, the three-story project would provide eight one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom units for families who make between 30 and 50 percent of the area median income.

The share of rental units affordable to families making 50 percent of AMI by census tract block group. The proposed project site at 2215 Dempster St. is shown in red. (Map by PolicyMap.com).

Data from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates that there is no rental housing now available to families at the 50 percent of AMI level in the census tract block group where the proposed development would be built.

Some neighbors have suggested the project should be built in downtown Evanston instead. The HUD data indicates that the share of rental housing available to families at 50 percent of AMI in three downtown census tract block groups is 7.3 percent, 15 percent and 22 percent.

Several aldermen this week called for making sure that affordable housing is distributed across the city and not limited only to certain neighborhoods.

And a chart presented by city staff this week showed that of the 983 income-restricted rental units in the city, only six are located in the census tract that includes the proposed project site. The average for the city’s 18 census tracts is just under 55.

While the Dempster-Pitner area is short on affordable rental housing, it does have a high percentage of moderate income homeowners.

An aerial view of the neighborhood, with 2215 Dempster highlighted in red. (Google Maps)

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows nearly 80 percent of the housing units from Dempster north to Church Street and from McDaniel east to Dodge are owner-occupied, as are 100 percent of the homes in the area south of Dempster to Main and from McDaniel east to Hartrey.

The households in the area to the north have a median income of slightly over $60,119 a year, and to the south a median income of $61,875 a year. That compares to a city-wide median of more than $68,000.

Homes north of Dempster have a median value of $192,100, while homes to the south side have a median value of $257,400. That compares to a city-wide median home value of $348,500.

The area also has a large minority population — 57 percent of the residents north of Dempster and 64 percent of those south of Dempster are African-American.

The City Council is scheduled to begin consideration of he funding request Monday night.

Related stories … on 2215 Dempster … and on affordable housing.

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