Evanston aldermen approved plans for a 16-story affordable housing development at 1900 Sherman Ave. Monday night despite opposition from five of their would-be successors.

The Housing Authority of Cook County project would provide 168 apartments, with 34 units affordable to households at 50% of area median income and another 17 units affordable to households at between 80% and 120% of AMI.

The other 70% of the apartments would be rented at market rate, which HACC Executive Director Rich Monocchio said would provide the revenue needed to subsidize the affordable units.

The City Council vote to approve the project was 8-0, with Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, abstaining because a long-time friend of hers, Jeanne Lindwall, works for a firm that’s a consultant to HACC on the development.

While six affordable housing advocates spoke in favor of the project during public comment, the project drew negative comments from more than twice as many speakers, including five who have filed to run for aldermanic seats in next April’s election.

The challengers are Clare Kelly, running for 1st Ward alderman; Darlene Cannon, running for 2nd Ward alderman; Diane Goldring, running for 4th Ward alderman; Tina Foster, running for 5th Ward alderman, and Mary Rosinski, running for 7th Ward alderman.

Cannon claimed the new development would ultimately displace minority families from the city because of the high rental costs.

The HACC project is planned to be build on a parking lot, so no existing housing units will be eliminated as a result of its construction.

Rosinski argued that because of disparities in the average income of white and black families the project would only aid “the top end” of the black community. “We can do a lot better on affordable housing than this,” Rosinski claimed, without offering specifics for how that might be accomplished.

The city’s housing and grants administrator, Sarah Flax, said the project actually exceeds the requirements of the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance. The ordinance only requires providing units affordable at 60% of area median income, while the HACC proposal lowers that income cutoff to 50%.

Kelly said the proposed building was too tall and would destroy the low-rise character of the area.

Goldring said HACC should start over with a new plan based on “community input.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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