Clare Kelly.

A city panel that’s canceled more meetings than it’s held over the past year will try again to tackle thorny housing issues Tuesday evening.

The Planning and Development Committee’s Housing Subcommittee, chaired by Ald. Clare Kelly (1st), has scheduled 18 meetings since it’s formation, but actually held only eight.

It continues to wrestle with issues regarding rental registration and inspections, whether to change how the city defines “family” in its zoning code and whether to change the controversial rule that limits the number of unrelated individuals in a dwelling unit to no more than three.

Before the new City Council took office last year, it appeared the city was edging toward a resolution of the three-unrelated issue. That proposal would have substituted housing code occupancy limits for the rule that singles out college students and other unrelated individuals for tighter restriction than “families.”

Affordable housing advocates were pushing for the change, arguing that the existing rule creates a barrier to housing affordability — by limiting the ability of people who can’t afford their own housing to reduce costs by sharing housing with others.

They also claim it has failed to achieve a goal advocates of the existing rule claim for it — preventing the conversion of single-family homes into student housing or relieving the stress on neighbors of student “party houses.”

But in July 2021 the Plan Commission deadlocked on whether to strip references to “family” from the city’s zoning code and eliminate the three-unrelated rule.

The next month the City Council banished the proposal to repeal discriminatory occupancy limits to the Housing Subcommittee.

Since then Kelly and the other alders on the committee — Bobby Burns (5th), Eleanor Revelle (7th) and Devon Reid (8th) — have talked about the issues but haven’t come up with any proposals to actually refer back to the full Planning and Development Committee.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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