An official from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus told members of Evanston’s  Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee Wednesday night that the number of seniors in the Chicago region will double by mid-century.

Kyle Smith, director of housing initiatives for the mayors caucus, said many seniors and young millenials are trading big yards for proximity to restaurants, retail and other community services in areas that offer what he called “car-lite living” — not necessarily abandoning cars, but using them much less.

He added that to respond to that trend many suburbs, including Evanston, are urbanizing, especially in locations near mass transit.

He said that in response to generally stagnant incomes, people “will seek to live in housing that they can afford, housing costs will be more directly tied to income.”

That, he said, is expected to reduce the demand for traditional single family housing and increase demand for townhomes and multi-family housing.

Renting, he added, will become more appealing to households that might have been homeowners in the past — and they will demand high-quality rental options.

Referencing 2017 data from DePaul University, he said Evanston has neighborhoods that represent four of the eight different types of housing submarkets found across the Chicago region — offering options for residents at low, moderate, middle and high income levels.

No other Chicago suburb, he said, includes as many different housing submarkets.

Data Smith presented suggested that, if Evanston had more housing attractive and affordable to people who work here, it could substantially increase its population.

He said 36,916 people commute into Evanston to work, while 26,260 people leave homes in Evanston to work elsewhere — while just 6,477 people both live and work in the city.

A diagram showing costs the government considers in determining whether housing is affordable.

Smith said recent data shows a modest decline in the number of Evanston homeowners who are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing and are therefore considered to face unaffordable housing costs. But the share of renters facing unaffordalbe housing costs, he said, has edged up slightly.

He said Evanston has a severe shortage of rental and ownership units affordable to its lowest income residents, while it has a generally sufficient supply of housing for those at higher income levels.

Related document

Homes for a Changing Region, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus presentation

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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