Evanston gets $18 million housing grant

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced today that the Evanston has received over $18 million in federal stimulus funds to redevelop blighted and foreclosed properties.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced today that the Evanston has received over $18 million in federal stimulus funds to redevelop blighted and foreclosed properties.

The amount is a little less than half the $40.6 million the city had sought in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The funding approved is targeted "to buy boarded up, foreclosed properties and convert them to affordable housing for both ownership and rental" to maintain diversity in the community, Mayor Tisdahl said in a statement.

The city had also proposed to construct about 100 units of new affordable housing on the vacant Bishop-Freeman property north of Emerson Street and west of Ashland Avenue as part of its grant application.

City Planning Director Dennis Marino said it was not clear from the initial grant award notice from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development whether HUD had approved just one type of project or had partially funded both.

He said that further detail from HUD would likely be available within a day or two.

The award of $18,150,000 in NSP2 funds will be used in targeted areas across two census tracts in west Evanston and south Evanston that have been identified as areas of need because of high foreclosures and vacancies.

The city, in conjunction with its private partner, Brinshore Development LLC, would either rehab the properties or demolish and replaced them to create roughly 100 affordable units for rental and resale.

These activities will benefit households whose income is at or below 120 percent of the area median income, with 25 percent of the funds being used for households at or below 50 percent of area median income.

Brinshore, the City’s partner in the venture, is one of the Midwest’s largest development firms in the affordable housing market. The firm has completed more than 40 developments that, with several more under construction or development, total over 4,300 apartments and homes valued at more than $1 billion.

City officials say Brinshore has extensive experience in using complex funding mechanisms including Low Income Housing Tax Credits and HUD funds, such as NSP and HOPE VI, to make its rental and homeownership opportunities affordable to families across the income spectrum.

The areas targeted for the NSP2 funds are Census Track 8092 in west Evanston — bounded by Green Bay Road, Emerson Street, Ashland Avenue, Church Street and McCormick Boulevard — and Census Tract 8102 in south Evanston — bounded by Howard Street, Asbury Avenue, Oakton Street and the CTA tracks.

The areas targeted for the program are tinted red on this city map.

This funding will go hand-in-hand with a variety of existing plans and initiatives already going on in these areas such as the implementation of the West Evanston Master Plan.

“The award of this grant will also allow us to stimulate economic development in these two areas. Neighborhood revitalization is a key aspect of what we are attempting to do in this community particularly in the distressed areas of west and south Evanston,” explained Community Development Director Lehman Walker. “The opportunities there, to be addressed as part of the grant, will enable us to solve some of the problems that have been long standing in these geographical areas.”

Federal officials have said this round of NSP grants is being awarded competitively to applicants that developed the most innovative ideas to rebuild local communities, while demonstrating that they have the capacity to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Nationwide the program is awarding $2 billion to communities to stimulate housing development.

“I applaud the greatly appreciated efforts of our senior Senator Dick Durbin along with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in bringing these much needed stabilization funds to our great community,” Tisdahl said. “I would also like to thank Senator Roland Burris for his letter of support for our application and the city staff for putting together an incredibly good project which detailed exactly how the money would be spent so that the Federal Government had a lot of confidence that we would spend the money well, and we will spend the money well.”

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