Neighbors of a proposed 16-unit low income housing complex on the northeast corner of Dempster Street and Pitner Avenue raised a range of objections to the project at a community meeting Tuesday night.

About 60 people turned out for the meeting, held at the Erie Family Health Center.

Jacqueline Coker.

Jacqueline Coker of 1220 Pitner Ave., complained that residents of the subsidized units would be “paying 10 times less” than people who owned homes in the neighborhood.

She suggested that transportation options were very limited in the area and asked why the project couldn’t be built in downtown Evanston instead where there are more transportation options and better amenities.

John Fuller.

NAACP branch Vice President John Fuller complained about the R5 zoning of the parcel fronting Dempster Street that permits the higher-desnity residential development, compared to the R2 zoning in most of the rest of the area.

Sarah Flax, the city’s grants administrator, responded that the R5 zoning had been in place since the 1960s, when substantial parts of town were rezoned in anticipation of more intense development that didn’t always happen.

Several other residents complained that they were having sewer backups at their homes and said they worried about whether utility services in the area were adequate for the project.

Britt Shawver

Britt Shawver, head of Housing Opportunities for Women, the developer of the three-story project, said it would provide eight one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments and have parking for 16 cars.

The main entrance to the building would off the parking lot and would face toward the alley east of the building, rather than either of the two streets the proprty fronts.

She said the goal of the project would be to provide housing for families already living in Evanston who have encountered financial difficulties dealing with the high cost of living here. Families making between 30 and 50 percent of the median area income would qualify to live in the development.

Residents listening to speakers at the meeting.

City officials said that a parking study indicated that roughly half the on-street parking spots in the 1300 block of Pitner were open during the times checked. But residents said the study didn’t capture the parking congestion late in the evening after residents have returned home from work.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward includes the development site, urged the residents not to make assumptions that the low-income occupants of the development would cause trouble.

“These will be Evanston residents,” he said, “They won’t be coming off the street or from the south side.”

And Braithwaite noted that when he was younger, he and his family had lived in an affordable housing apartment in Evanston.

HOW has applied for a state grant that would cover much of the cost of the project and is expected to seek additional funding from the city.

With the R5 zoning of the parcel, the project can be built as-of-right under the zoning code, but the city funding request will require City Council approval.

Related story

Affordable housing planned on Dempster (3/17/17)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. NIMBY strikes again

    Not only do the ‘racist’ whites not want affordable housing by them, but it appears does the heavily minority community [they would not say it directly but look at the objections].

    1. To clarify:

      To clarify:

      I said that I paid premium dollars less than a year ago to purchase my residence at this location in Evanston, and not to sound biased and certainly meaning offense to noone however, if I wanted to live near low income housing I would have moved to another location and paid 10x less than I did for my current residence in the location that I chose.

      I have worked all my life to purchase my first home in the location of my choosing, and until now, I too, have lived within my means, and in locations in which I could afford.

    2. Additionally, if this project

      Additionally, if this project is approved and the units are not filled by Evanstonian’s, HOW confirmed that applications would be open to ‘anyone’ debunking the statement above that this program is Evanstonian specific. HOW was also unable to confirm (pending confirmation of financing) whether or not this housing project would be tax exempt. If not, who do you think will be paying the taxes in addition to the rumored 33% tax increase over the next 2 1/2 – 3 years?

    3. Affordable Housing

      It’s not a question of not wanting affordable housing , but I do object to people claiming to be building affordable housing for families when they do not address the issue of affordable housing in Evanston. The need in THIS city is for three bedrooms on more this project is for one to two bedrooms. The people and the  character of the neighborhood is not being considered when your talking about building a three story high density building in a single family two story homes. These people  are more interested in lining their pockets, but they want to use my hard earned property tax dollars to do it.

  2. Is the NAACP against the project?
    From the story it seems like the NAACP Vice President has some reservations about the project. Is that an accurate interpretation? Are they actually objecting to the project?

    1. NAACP view?

      Hi Loznd,

      Fuller mentioned his role with the NAACP, but I have no idea whether he was speaking only for himself or for the organization. I don’t believe he indicated that.

      His emphasis, as noted in the story, was on the zoning question. In addition to saying that the zoning had not been changed since the 1960s, city staff in response pointed out a number of other segments of Dempster and other major streets that have R5 zoning. Many of those are in areas of the city with a much lower minority population.

      You could take a look at the zoning map here.

      There have been concerns over the years in many communities about the tendency to locate low income housing in areas that already have a relatively high low income population. But trying to stretch dollars to serve the largest number of people also tends to drive developers to areas where property acquisition costs are lowest.

      — Bill

      1. Zoning question isn’t relevant

        Thanks for the clarification. As the story mentions, the zoning issue is irrelevant since the project is compliant.

        My view is that they can build whatever they want if it is compliant. However, I don’t think the city should subsidize it since Evanston exceeds the state requirements for affordable housing.

  3. Mothers with Children

    I first read about the proposal for this development in mid March 2017. The proposal was for hosing for Mother  with Children. ( “Flax says the goal of the development is to provide stable housing for mothers with children who may only earn 30 percent to 50 percent of area median income.​”) This article states the the develpment will be 8 “1 bedroom units” and 8 “2bdrm  units” Will mothers with children live in the 1 bedrroms?

  4. Fuller’s presence

    I attended the meeting regarding the proposed affordable housing development at Dempster and Pitner for informational purposes only. I was not present on my behalf or on the behalf of the NAACP to make a statement in favor of or against the development. I inquired, not complained, about the zoning and several other points of interest. There is a distinct difference in the two words. Again, I was there in the interest of becoming informed. I will reserve my right to complain when and if necessary.

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