Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told residents at a 5th Ward meeting Thursday evening that area landlords may get a shock when they start seeking students to lease their off-campus apartments for next fall.

With Northwestern University requiring sophomores to live on campus starting next fall, at least several hundred students — most of whom, Bobkiewicz said, live in the 5th Ward — will be gone from the off-campus housing market.

Wally Bobkiewicz, speaking at the 5th Ward meeting.

Census data indicates there are roughly 5,700 apartment units within about of mile of Northwestern’s Evanston campus, out of a total of 13,194 rental units in the city as a whole.

Alan Anderson, NU’s neighborhood and community relations director, says typically about 600 second-year students have lived off campus.

Their absense could leave perhaps 200 to 300 apartment units without tenants. Depending on how concentrated the student population is in the area immediately adjacent to campus, the change could dramatically increase vacancy rates in the close-to-campus market segment.

“Other communities have been through this,” Bobkiewicz said. It happened in Columbus, Ohio, a year ago, he said, “and totally turned their student housing market upside down.”

“Landlords there,” Bobkiewicz said, “didn’t realized until Christmas of the year before when they started getting deals lined up for the fall semester, how big an impact it was going to have.”

Asked by a resident whether the student rentals could be converted to housing for families, Bobkiewicz said that is a possibility, but “not every property is probably ready to be a single family home.”

The City Council, he said, has started discussions about affordable housing, and there’s a lot of interest in making an investment in existing affordable housing, he added, but until landlords realize they have a problem, not much is likely to happen.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Did policy change ?

    Story says “Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told residents at a 5th Ward meeting Thursday evening that area landlords may get a shock when they start seeking students to lease their off-campus apartments for next fall.”


    NU Web says Northwestern University has implemented a residency requirement for all incoming first and second year undergraduate students beginning with the Fall 2017 quarter. This institution-wide initiative will support social and academic transitions.

    1. No

      The NU policy, announced maybe two years ago, applies first to the Class of 2021, entering in the fall of 2017. They will be sophomores in the fall of 2018. So no impact on off-campus housing market until landlords start leasing units for next fall.

      — Bill

      1. Notre Dame just announced a
        Notre Dame just announced a similar policy, however, their requirement will be that all freshmen, sophomores, AND juniors are required to live on-campus. How long before Northwestern does the same?

        1. NU kids

          Well…considering all the loud partying and other “disturbances” going on with NU students  disturbing residents in their neighborhoods, this would be a good thing.  

  2. Would NU require Bill Gates son to live on campus ?

    News stories announce Bill Gates bought a $1.25 million house for his son to live in while at U. Chicago. Would NU require the son to live in a dorm for first two years ? How about Chelsea Clinton ? Obama daughters ? I assume NU has had to face this question before—for children of wealth and political connections [who of course might make large donations]. Has NU made exceptions ? While a $1.25 million house is not unusual for Evanston, I’d suspect Bill’s son does not want to live alone. Would his house violate Evanston’s brothel laws then ?

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