Evanston is considering offering grants to small landlords who suffered financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a meeting on Tuesday the Housing and Community Development Committee is scheduled to vote on a staff proposal that would provide grants capped at either $12,000 or $15,000 per applicant to landlords with fewer than 36 rental units.

Below the cap, landlords would be eligible for grants of up to 75% of the financial losses they reported on their 2021 business tax return for their rental properties.

The 75% figure is based on the April 1, 2021, start date for loss coverage under the American Rescue Plan Act.

City staff says they sent a survey in August asking about pandemic-related losses to 3,270 Evanston landlords. Only 50 responded, but of those who did, nine said they’d suffered a reduction of net rental income between 2019 and 2021 that averaged just under $7,000 per landlord.

Studies have suggested that small landlords provide a crucial source of affordable rental housing and that pandemic-related losses may lead some small landlords to either raise rents or sell their properties to new owners who will.

Subject to a recommendation by the committee, the measure is scheduled for action by the City Council on Nov. 14.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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