Evanston’s Housing and Community Development Committee voted Tuesday night to recommend City Council approval of $4 million in city funds for a 44-unit affordable housing development on Church Street.
The bulk of the funds for the $22 million project proposed by the non-profit Housing Opportunity Development Corporation is to be provided by the Illinois Housing Development authority through low income housing tax credits.
The five-story project at 1811-1815 Church St. would include ground-floor retail space and two levels of underground parking required by the site’s zoning. HODC says those requirements add about $3.1 million to the total cost of the project.
City staff has proposed providing a $1.5 million grant for the retail and parking component of the project from the West Evanston tax increment financing district. The grant would be repayable if the property were sold or not maintained as primarily affordable for 30 years.
An additional $1.5 million grant from the TIF and a $1 million zero-interest deferred loan from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund would support the housing component of the project. Those funds would be repayable if the property were sold or not maintained as primarily affordable beyond the 30-year LIHTC affordability period.
The City Council also could choose to provide some of the city’s proposed $4 million to the project from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation.
Interim Community Development Director Sarah Flax told the committee Tuesday night that revisions to federal guidelines about ARPA spending have made it possible to assist projects with long-term affordability rules under that program — after the Treasury Department, which manages ARPA, worked out arrangements with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to handle monitoring of the affordability provisions.
Only one speaker at the meeting opposed the development plans. Carlis Sutton, a 5th Ward landlord, called the project “a monstrosity” and “a slap in the face” to nearby residents.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss Monday how to spend what’s left of its ARPA allocation.
The Land Use Commission is scheduled Feb. 8 to decide whether to recommend approval of zoning variations for the HODC project to the City Council.