An update on Emerson Square’s construction at Monday night’s Human Services Committee led to unexpected contention after one Evanston 5th Ward resident passionately complained about gun violence in the area.

David Brynt presented a powerpoint updating the committee on Emerson Square’s progress. The 32 affordable housing units cover 2.34 acres. He said almost 300 applications have been received, and that the project hopes to start moving residents in within the next 10 days.

Potential residents must undergo a criminal background check that shows they have not been convicted of a felony in the last ten years, an income check that shows they do not earn above a certain amount, and a drug test.

Some aldermen expressed concern that these tests were too restrictive.

The goal is to open the street from Foster to Emerson. The complex is “new urbanist” style and will feature a picturesque garden complete with gazebos.

But what was intended to be a simple update became a discussion of gun violence and racial and class divide in Evanston. Patricia Hunt of the Fifth Ward attacked Brinshore, the developer of Emerson Square, for failing to provide her a gate and a fence as a buffer between her and the violence.

“Everyone here, you can go home. You can sleep without worrying about a bullet coming through the window,” she said.

Brynt tried to respond to Hunt’s comments but was denied repeatedly by committee chair and 2nd Ward alderman Peter Braithwaite.

Top: The Emerson Square construction site on Tuesday. This report was contributed by Evanston Now writer Anne Li.

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. More landlords need to do background checks

    The background and drug check is an excellent thing to do and I'm happy to see its being done! Landlords need to be responsible for the tenants they bring into an area and although a landlord can't be held accountable for every person a renter brings into their apartment they can at the very least run a background and drug test for the person leasing an apartment from them. 


  2. Not going to work

    If you don't think criminals will still be in these units you're naive. They will just get someone who hasn't been in trouble before to be the leaser/buyer and then they'll actually live there. Continuing the increase of crime in Evanston which the police and city will do nothing about. They would rather be concerned about bike lanes.

  3. Enforcement is a problem

    The testing is a great idea! But the only problem – it CANNOT be enforoced. There is many single parent families in 5th Ward, then they end up having "the significant other" move in over night, never gets reported that there is another adult living there and nobody in the neighborhood feels save a week later. Been living through this for past year, and dealing with slimy rental property next door, only block away from lovely Emerson Square Gardens. Evanston Property Standards and Property Leasing Policy needs to tighten the leash on these issues.

  4. Please explain

    I don't understand what Emerson Square is about.  Is this a public housing project, a privately owned housing investment, a city owned operation or whatever….

    What are the specifics on these housing units?  Where can I get more detailed information?

  5. Who else would be willing to live there besides crime and slime?

    Because of the existing crime and slime, who else besides crime and slime will be willing to move in there.  They will end up having to rent to crime and slime or else the units will be vacant and therefore lose money.  They certainly will not want to lose money and so it goes…..  BUT…. I still have hope for SOMEBODY coming up with and being bold enough to carry out the clean up of the crime and slime.

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