Rendering 1820 Dodge

Just shy of a deadline to spend federal affordable housing funds, the Evanston City Council this week approved using $95,000 of the federal money to help build a single-family home at 1820 Dodge Ave.

The project will see a factory-built, traditionally-styled, two-story home constructed on the narrow, now-vacant lot.

The home will be constructed at the Old World Homes factory in Pickneyville, Ill., with the work inspected by a third-party inspector approved by Evanston’s building department and the inspections paid for by the project developer, Housing Opportunity Development Corporation.

The city, which has been looking for new taxes to impose to expand its pool of affordable housing money, has also been having difficulty spending the money it already has available.

The city receives about $500,000 from the federal HOME program annually and now has about $1.8 million in funds available to commit to new projects.

In addition it has $90,000 in demolition tax funds, $40,000 in developer contributions for affordable housing and $192,536 in the mayor’s special housing fund. Developers have also pledged over $1 million in contributions that are due to be paid as their projects are completed.

HODC officials said they had originally considered traditional stick-built construction techniques for the Dodge Avenue site but couldn’t keep costs in line with the available funding. It’s estimated the pre-fab approach will cut $25,000 to $30,000 from the project cost.

The new house will have about 1,600 square feet of living space, plus a full basement. It will have 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a detached two-car garage.

In addition to the federal funds, the project also benefits from donation of the lot, which is valued at $50,000.

The overall project cost is $300,000. The home will be sold for $155,000 to a family earning about 60 percent of the area median income, which is about $45,000 for a family of four.

A restrictive covenant will limit the resale price to remain affordable for 20 years.

HODC officials say they’ll conduct a lottery targeted to Evanston residents to select the purchaser, and said over 100 people have already completed the housing counseling program required to qualify for the lottery.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said the property formerly had a house on it that was torn down years ago after the city condemned it because of housing code violations. Previous developers had proposed two-unit housing on the site, which the city said was only large enough for a single-family home.

He said the lot has been a maintenance hassle over the years with unauthorized dumping and other troubles, “so this is a great project.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. Can a family of 4 afford this house?
    Bill – It would appear to me that the family of four making $45,000 would be paying close to 35-45% of thier gross income on mortgage, property taxes, utilities and upkeep on this house. Not to mention other city taxes and fees. What do you think, am I too high in my estimate?

    1. Affordability calculation
      Hi Junad,
      The short answer is that the state does not include utilities and upkeep in calculating affordability for owner-occupied housing, although it does include utilities in the calculation for rental housing.
      The statutory goal was to have buyers spend no more than 30 percent of income on mortgage P&I, property taxes and insurance. The state assumes the buyer would have funds on hand to make a 10 percent downpayment, limiting the mortgage to 90 percent of the purchase price.
      When the Illinois Housing Development Authority did the calculation a few years ago, based on 2000 data, the formula boiled down to saying a home was affordable if the purchase price was no more than 3.029 times income.
      That would work out to a price of about $136,000.
      However the IHDA calculation was based on mortgage interest rates of 8.05 percent in 2000. The rates are substantially lower now, around 6.22 percent, which presumably closes the gap in the calculation.
      (I believe the state also uses a county-wide average for property taxes and a nationwide average for insurance costs, which may alter the formula a bit from Evanston realities.)
      You can find more about the impact of mortgage rates on housing affordability in Evanston here, and all you’d ever want to know about the affordable housing law here.
      — Bill

      1. Thank you
        Bill – thank you for the information -it just appears to me, given the high taxes to live here this family of four will soon go into forclosure. What if they have a kid at the high school and the high school raises fees a $100 will they have the funds to cover it? To me the city has so may more pressing issues than spending meeting after meeting on affordable housing.

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