Bobby Burns.

Evanston Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) says the city is “not producing nearly enough” affordable housing units.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s Housing and Community Development Committee meeting, Burns cited a report showing that 836 households are now on the affordable housing wait list managed for the city by the non-profit Community Partners for Affordable Housing.

According to the CPAH report, that’s nearly a dozen households waiting for each of the 72 housing units created by the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance, which requires market-rate developers to include some affordable units in new multi-family housing projects.

Overall, the city has more than 1,000 formally designated subsidized rental housing units created under a variety of federal and state programs in addition to the city’s IHO program.

They provide housing for about 7% of the estimated 14,525 rental households in the city.

Related: Where is the affordable housing in Evanston?

And that doesn’t include housing choice vouchers accepted by private landlords or “naturally occurring” affordable housing — privately-owned properties for which the asking market rent would be considered affordable.

CPAH says 59 of the 72 units on its list are currently occupied, and prospective tenants for the rest are currently being reviewed.

It says 31 more units are have received city approvals and are “in the pipeline” for future development.

With the City Council’s rejection of plans for the Merion Legacy high-rise development on Chicago Avenue downtown earlier this year, no major developments that would significantly add to the supply of subsidized units in market rate projects under the IHO ordinance are currently seeking city approval.

As for all-subsidized developments created using low income housing tax credits and other subsidy schemes, Burns said the 33-unit development approved by Council for 1811-1815 Church St. is currently stalled by a lawsuit filed by neighbors.

The Council will soon vote on plans for a 60-unit subsidized development at 504-514 South Blvd. That project was recommended for approval by the Land Use Commission last week.

Burns said the city may need to revise the inclusionary housing ordinance to require a higher percentage of subsidized units, beyond the 10% the ordinance now calls for.

Elizabeth Williams, the city’s planning and zoning manager, said she sees some opportunities to “fine tune what has been a relatively successful program,” but that the city needs to be careful to “strike a balance that does not stifle development in general.”

The committee is scheduled to review the performance of the inclusionary housing ordinance in the first quarter of next year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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