Carlis Sutton.

Two Evanston landlords Tuesday night complained about a proposal to offer grants to landlords who’ve suffered losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carlis Sutton claimed that the city had given up to $50,000 to businesses on Main Street that suffered losses related to the pandemic and a construction project — but now it planned to ask landlords to submit tax returns to prove they’d suffered financial losses to qualify for aid.

“I’d rather not apply for a program that has all those kinds of commitments,” Sutton said, adding that “when we ask for a minimum amount of assistance, all we get is a runaround.”

Update 7 a.m. 10/19/22: The city’s economic development manager, Paul Zalmezak, says applicants for the merchants program were required to provide documentation of their losses. The program, which also covered business on Howard Street, ended up distributing a total of just under $85,000 in assistance split among five of the 13 businesses that applied.

Landlord Tina Paden of Paden Properties complained that the city was considering limiting the grants to landlords to between $12,000 and $15,000 and said, “It feels like a slap in the the face” when the city “can’t dedicate any substantial money to landlords.”

After the public comments at the Housing and Community Development Committee meeting, committee members had an extensive discussion of how to design the landlord assistance program, which is intended to be funded with $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The committee decided to reduce the maximum number of rental units a landlord could have to qualify for the program to either 20 or 25 from a previously suggested ceiling of 35.

And members opted to limit the program to certain geographic areas within the city that have a high concentration of naturally-occurring affordable housing.

The committee also revised an initial proposal that would have just asked for 2021 business tax returns to ask for 2019 pre-pandemic forms as well, and base any grant issued on 75% of the decline in net revenue between the two years.

And they added a condition that would disqualify landlords with major uncorrected property code violations.

The committee had hoped to vote on a final version of the plan Tuesday night so the proposal could appear on the Nov. 14 City Council agenda.

But they instead opted to have staff prepare a revised proposal including the committee’s suggestions for the committee’s next meeting on Nov. 15.

Assuming it’s approved at that meeting. the measure could reach the City Council for a vote in late November or early December.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Proving that you actually lost money due to the pandemic in return for the City handing you a check seems pretty reasonable. If you think it is too much for too little, you always have the option of not applying.

    1. Yes to all of this! Why is everything perceived as bad in this town? If the money they’re able to offer isn’t enough to make a difference to you, or if showing your tax returns is too onerous, then leave it on the table and let someone else apply who would actually appreciate the assistance.

  2. I knew immediately from the headline that one of the “landlords who object” would be Tina Paden. She has objected to numerous proposed regulations on landlords in the past.

    I find it interesting that she previously opposed having licenses for rental property owners. Now she and Sutton want to be treated like other businesses in terms of ARPA money. Of course all of those businesses were licensed.

    Sorry Carlis & Tina, you can’t have it both ways.

  3. Handout to select group of property owners…. And complaints about paperwork???? Looking the gift horse in the mouth

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