Code puts hundreds of apartments off limits to students

The Evanston ordinance barring more than three unrelated individuals from sharing an apartment effectively puts nearly 600 rental apartments in Evanston off limits to college students.

Meanwhile, the total number of occupied rental units in the city has declined by nearly 25 percent during the past decade.

U.S. Census data presented in a report from the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs issued Friday indicates that the total number of occupied rental housing units in Evanston declined from 14,040 to 10,608 from 2000 through 2008, while the number of owner-occupied units rose by a smaller ammount.

The census data shows that during the same period the number of four bedroom rental units increased from 349 to 511, while the number of rentals with 5 or more bedrooms declined from 106 to 76.

The city code provision makes no allowance for the size of the dwelling occupied by unrelated individuals. And it imposes no similar limits on the number of family members who can live in a single dwelling unit.

Assuming students need as many roommates as there are bedrooms in an apartment to be able to compete effectively to rent the unit, the occupancy rule shuts them out of legally renting nearly six percent of the rental housing units in town.

City officials last fall assured homeowners living near the Northwestern University campus that they were cracking down on violations of the occupancy rule.

But this month, after protests on campus about the supposed crackdown, the officials claimed they are simply continuing ongoing efforts to enforce the ordinance and that the city would not generally move to evict students from apartments that violated the rule.

Related document

Open to All? (Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs) (.pdf)

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