It’s gotten a lot cheaper to rent an apartment in Evanston recently.

Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that over the past three years Evanston renters have gone from having to pay much more of their income to rent an apartment than the statewide average, to paying much less.

In 2005 Evanston 55.1 percent of Evanston renters spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities. By 2007 that was down to 41.5 percent.

By contrast the statewide average has stayed at or just above 46 percent over the three-year period. For the City of Chicago the figure has stayed at just under 51 percent.

This year renters in Aurora, Joliet and Waukegan also are typically paying a higher share of their income on rent and utilities than renters in Evanston.

The dramatic increase in the number of condominium units available for rent in Evanston as a result of the slowing home sales market is the likely cause of the shift.

By contrast there’s been little change in the affordability ratio for Evanston homeowners who are paying off a mortgage.

In 2005, 42 percent of them paid more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. The figure rose to 43.5 percent in 2006 and eased slightly to 42.8 percent in 2007.

For each year the Evanston figure was above the statewide average of about 38 percent, though lower than the figure of around 50 percent for the City of Chicago.

Back in 1999 only 30.2 percent of Evanston homeowners with a mortgage spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs.

Of course home values in Evanston have risen dramatically during that time. The Census Bureau says the median value of an owner occupied home in Evanston rose from $290,800 in 1999 to $429,700 in 2006, before easing to $424,300 in 2007

Related story

More homeowners reach tipping point on housing costs, study shows (Chicago Tribune)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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