Census Bureau data shows that poverty levels in Evanston have declined in recent years, but the trend has been uneven — with eight of the city’s 19 census tracts showing an increase in families living in poverty.

Citywide the share of families living below the government-designated poverty line has dropped from 5.6% to 4.2% and there’ve been similar declines for all city residents and for children under the age of 18.

The family poverty rate has increased slightly in Census Tract 8092, which generally includes the portion of the 5th Ward west of Green Bay Road. But it has decreased dramatically in Tract 8093, which includes most of the 5th Ward east of Green Bay.

It has also dropped substantially in Tract 8096, between Church and Dempster streets west of Asbury Avenue — an area that includes portions of the 2nd and 4th wards.

The poverty rate generally showed less dramatic shifts in areas south of Dempster Street and in areas in northwest and northeast Evanston.

Changes in the poverty rate can have an impact on decision making around a variety of public policy issues — from where to build affordable housing to where to focus economic stimulus programs.

The poverty rate for all residents is substantially higher than the family rate. The all-resident rate in some census tracts is dramatically affected by the number of “temporarily-impoverished” college students living near the Northwestern University campus.

But it also captures other non-family households that are excluded from the family count.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Well back to what my group has been saying poverty is higher in the 5th ward and will continue to increase for as long as Evanston keeps putting more and more affordable housing here! In who’s mind is it a good idea to stack poverty on top poverty keeping the area in poverty.

    1. Xc is correct. Although some might argue that because this is where the poverty IS currently the highest it would make the most sense to put MORE affordable housing. That WOULD be true if the affordable housing were to directly benefit those already living here. But it does not. By putting affordable housing here we are just creating a vicious cycle. We bring in more low income family to an area where the poverty already exist without really taking care of our people in need. That still makes no sense to me. Politicians are more concerned about keeping funding by adding more need from other parts of the state than actually tackling the problem.

    1. Are you referring to being pushed out of other areas in Evanston, where there’s little to no affordable housing! Because the majority of the affordable housing is already concentrated in the 5th ward!

  2. The claim that affordable housing increases poverty is not accurate. In fact, it is often the opposite – affordable housing can help reduce poverty and increase economic mobility.

    The cost of housing is a significant factor in determining household budgets, especially for low-income families. When housing costs are too high, it can result in housing insecurity, such as evictions or homelessness, which can further exacerbate poverty.

    When people have access to affordable housing, it frees up income that can be used for other necessities such as healthcare, education, food, and other basic needs. Additionally, affordable housing can provide stability and a sense of security, which can help people maintain employment and pursue opportunities for economic advancement.

    1. Ms. Jillian in an ideal world I would 100% agree with you. Yet reality for a lot of affordable housing building tenants is NOT what is portrayed by the management and city officials. Infestations, violence, safety issues for both tenants and visitors is a major concern. Ideally my experience as a low income should have been full of opportunities. Reality is far from what should be. Too often affordable housing management are absent and as long as the rents are coming in then the issues are addressed at the bare minimum level if at all. I have lived in a block that has had violence, drug dealers living next door, having to wake up in the middle of the night to swat raids. I couldn’t afford to live in any other ward. I have fought hard to leave those issues of violence behind, I naively thought that by owning a home in a neighborhood with little to no buildings would be the answer. I did not count on small duplex land lords housing criminals and either having their hands tied by tenant rights or just throwing their hands up in defeat or just a “well I’m getting paid any way and I don’t have to deal with them every day” attitude. It’s very easy to give opinions on what my block needs when you don’t live our reality.
      In the last decade I have seen a positive change where diversity has made a huge difference, there are more families with children in our block and we even brave playing outside. Why is it so hard to understand that we, just like people a block over to the east, deserve a sense of security? The management for this affordable housing project has already a building in Evanston, a building that as public records show has had multiple police calls for violence, drug dealings and recently a dead body(which yes can happen any where any time) but to have a body sit there for two weeks? Again I have lived through issues being reported over and over and over without having the resolution come. I just want, if you all are bent on having this in MY block, not yours, that you also push for higher standards of management from these people. Don’t just say affordable housing yay, then swing the ball to someone else’s court. I asked Bobby Burns if he would personally deal with any issues that might arise in the middle of the night, he said yes, HA!. I find that building will be shifted to the 2nd ward with the new zoning, so guess what? It’s no longer his problem. If we ask Harris about any issues being dealt with what will she say then? She is for this building being developed.
      There are so many issues that have NOT been addressed here. Taxpayers exercising their freedom of speech only to be told that we have taken 6-12 hours too many of the city’s time? When do I as a low income child get to see the apportunities that you speak of come to fruition?

      1. Thanks for this info. I’ve wondered why there is such a need for another affordable housing unit in the 5th ward. Why isn’t the city focused on, like, putting in a walkable grocery store etc?

        The 4th ward poverty rate (where I live) went up too, probably because of the Margarita and other homeless shelters expansion.

        It seems to me that the 5th ward issues and 4th ward issues could be directly connected. The Margarita, run by Connections for the Homeless, takes in just about everyone. Addicts, dealers, criminals, violent pasts, etc.

        I see a potential system where the Margarita attracts homeless from out of town (also fact, despite what CFH says) and ‘graduates’ them to low income units in the 5th ward, basically creating slums. I think this needs to be investigated.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *