Officials from Evanston Township High School and the City of Evanston were among about 60 persons who gathered Wednesday afternoon at the newly completed and sold house constructed two years ago by an intrepid band of geometry students.

It is located at 1941 Jackson Avenue and will be occupied by Chuck Carra, a teachers aide in the Special Education Department at ETHS, and his 10-year-old son.

Carra, an Evanston native and an ETHS alum (Class of 2000), knew about the house, of course, as an employee of the school, and “jumped on it” when he heard the house had gone up for sale.

“It’s an honor to be the beneficiary of this collaborative, community-driven effort,” the new homeowner said at Wednesday’s event.

The new owner, Chuck Carra, and his son are third from the left.

The house was built at the school during the 2013-2014 school year and was moved to Jackson Avenue onto a vacant lot that the city sold to the school for a dollar.

During the past year, finishing touches were applied to the three-bedroom, one-bath home, and it was put up for sale. A two-car garage that had once been heated was already on the lot, but it was refurbished to blend with the newly constructed house, according to Todd Kihm, the general contractor.


The house was the byproduct of a course called Geometry in Construction, what educators call an interdisciplinary course taught by Matt Kaiser of the Career and Technical Education Department and Maryjoy Heineman of the Mathematics Department.

Taken mainly by freshmen and sophomores, the curriculum is designed to demonstrate to students how their math studies can be directly connected to the real world.

The project is directed and overseen jointly by Shelley Gates, who heads the Career and Technical Education Department, and her counterpart, Dale Leibforth, Mathematics Department Chair.

While learning geometry, students are exposed to such careers as architecture, civil engineering, construction management, carpentry, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and landscaping.

While it is too early to tell its effect on students’ careers, as the first class has not yet graduated, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said that preliminary scores on math achievement tests indicate that students who have taken this course are scoring better than those who have not been similarly exposed.

As a community-wide venture, yesterday’s reception brought together Mayor Tisdahl and city aldermen, plus school board members from both District 65 and District 202, as well as community supporters of affordable housing and fundraisers from the school’s educational foundation.

Some of the students who helped build the house were also in attendance. One such student, Matthew Gorenstein, is now a senior and says he plans to enter Oakton Community College after graduation and pursue a career in the health care field.

The second house, a two-story home built last year, has now been relocated to a vacant lot on Dodge Avenue, just south of Emerson Street.  A third house is under construction this year. Like the house on Dodge, it is a two-story home very similar to the house on Dodge.

Witherspoon said he is hopeful that the city will be able to continue to supply empty lots in succeeding years, as the sale of the homes each year provides the seed money for the construction the following year and also puts the lots back on the tax rolls, thereby providing benefits for Evanston taxpayers.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Inquiring minds would like to know

    What was the house sold for? What are the anticipated property taxes? How was the house advertised for sale and were there income limitations?

      1. The city sold the land to

        The city sold the land to "community partners for affordable housing" in August for ten dollars (!!!????)

        There is no record of the house being listed at all before sale….

        1. Fake Scandal

          "here is no record of the house being listed at all before sale.."

          You really should do a simple Google search (1941 Jackson Evanston) before making statements like this.  See this ordinance, passed 7/10/2015:

          As stated in the ordinance, a notice of intent to sell the property was posted in the Evanston Review ( which is apparently some sort of newspaper…I am not familiar with it) on July 23 – not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days before the sale was authorized, by a 2/3 vote of Council.

          We now return to FOX News coverage of the Benghazi scandal…

          1. you should read what you post

            you should read what you post. That was for the land to the non profit not for the house and land to a seller….


          2. you should read what I post

            I was replying to this statement

            "The city sold the land to "community partners for affordable housing" in August for ten dollars (!!!????)  "

            So the sale of the property by the city was the question.

            If you want to know about the sale by CPAH to this new resident, and how CPAH disposes of properties, go to the CPAH website:


            As of today (October 3, 2015) the property in question is listed as 'Under Contract'.  Other properties in Highland Park and Lake Forest, are available , as well as rentals in Evanston.

            As the CPAH website states:

            "These homes are currently being rehabbed and are available to income-qualified applicants. When homes become available, they are often sold very quickly. Potential applicants are encouraged to learn more about the program by calling our office (847-681-8746) or email with any questions or to schedule an appointment."

            Income requirements are also shown on the website.  

            The process appears to be very transparent.   There is no scandal here, just move along.

            We now return to our coverage of the War on Christmas.

          3. Thanks for the info

            Wow, someone sure is testy.

            Thanks for the link anyway. It answers my question.

    1. Inquiring minds
      As a subsequent respondant indicated, the property on which this house is sitting was acquired, with the support of the City, by Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH), a Community Land Trust certified by the City and by HUD. CLTs are non-profit entities that acquire and develop community assets on behalf of the community and maintain the affordability and stewardship of that property in perpetuity. This house was sold to an income eligible buyer who had to apply to CPAH and be found eligible, while CPAH retains ownership of the land. When the buyer, who pays a mortgage to the bank and a small monthly land rental fee to the land trust, decides to move on, s/he sells the house back to the CLT using an agreed upon formula which provides for owner equity to be returned, as long as the housing market has remained stable, and the CLT, which almost surely has a waiting list of prospective and eligible buyers, will sell the house to another moderate income household. In response to another comment, the owner will be paying property taxes, but only on the appraised value of the building itself, not including the land value.

  2. No good deed goes unpunished

    Where are the congratulations for the people involved? Here is a program that is giving back to our city and most of these comments do not even praise the students and teachers involved. Freshman and sophomores built a house to help a family attain a dream of home ownership. This is amazing! Congratulations and keep up the good work! We need more people like this in our community willing to actually do something to help with the problems our families face day to day. 

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