When Sherelle Gill and her mother Dorothy walked inside what is about to become their house, they received something unexpected: applause.

“It’s beautiful,” said Sherelle … about both the house and the reception.

About 25 people were on hand Monday afternoon, for an open house in a house which is about to open.

Dorothy and Sherelle Gill with Amy Kaufman of Community Partners for Affordable Housing.

They cheered as Sherelle and Dorothy entered.

The structure is the seventh and latest home built by the Geometry in Construction course at Evanston Township High School.

The home was moved from ETHS, where it was put together, to its permanent location on Emerson Street in 2021.

The first floor of the house leaves ETHS.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it took a lot longer than usual to get the electrical and plumbing work installed.

Each structure is sold to individuals who could likely not afford a new house in Evanston’s costly real estate market.

Shirelle and Dorothy had been renting, but with prices going up, they were afraid they’d have to move out of Evanston.

The student-built house made it possible for them to stay.

“That was always important to me,” said 37-year-old Sherelle, an ETHS graduate.

“Staying in Evanston was one of our goals,” added Dorothy, who attended the old 5th Ward Foster school when it was segregated, and is now moving back to the neighborhood which will be getting a new K-8 school.

“God is good,” Dorothy said. “This happened right on time. We needed it.”

Sherelle’s niece and nephew will also live in the three-bedroom house.

A group called Community Partners for Affordable Housing works with ETHS and markets the property.

ETHS principal Taya Kinzie was there on Monday.

Kinzie said the school’s construction course creates a sense of belonging for the students who take it.

“You’re part of both building and giving,” she added.

The Geometry in Construction homes are built as affordable housing, with income restrictions as to who can buy one.

At $190,000, this particular house sold for less than half the median home price in town.

But “affordable” housing does not mean “subsidized” housing.

Buyers must qualify for and obtain a mortgage.

Besides the Gills, ETHS teachers, and political leaders, several students who helped put the house together returned on Monday to check it out and welcome the residents.

Sophie Lechleitner was a freshman in 2019-20, when work began.

Now, she’s about to go to college.

ETHS grad Sophie Lechleitner, in front of house she helped to build.

Sophie said “I loved it,” when asked about the construction class.

She pointed out a window area in the new house. “That’s the window my parents and I worked on,” Sophie said. “They were very proud of that window.”

Another student-built house, the eighth, is currently at ETHS and will be moved to a permanent location later this month. It will take about a year after that to finish the work.

By then, the Gills will have been in their new house for about a year as well. They move in soon.

And besides the surprise applause, Sherelle Gill had something else unexpected happen on Monday.

Her ETHS math teacher, Dale Leibforth, is now math chair and is in charge of the construction course.

Leibforth was at the open house, and was just as surprised to see Gill as she was to see him.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Leibforth said. “I didn’t know until she walked in the door.”

The door to home ownership.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. The 7th home from ETHS, I would like to know where they are located? Is most of them in the 5th ward?

    1. Yes they are. That’s one of the few places in Evanston where there are a significant number of vacant lots available for infill housing.
      — Bill

    1. How can I inquire about one of these houses my two kids went to eths my son just graduated this past June and will be attending college in the fall both kids were loved and known I think he may even had helped in the building of one of these I would really like one it’s been tuff trying to pay rent when the rent is 3 times what I can pay and now I can’t pay anymore any information and help would be helpful

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