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Rainey: Housing formula favors the rich

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Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says Evanston's new ordinance that proponents say will encourage development of affordable housing actually favors the rich, while penalizing those with more modest incomes.

The ordinance imposes a $100,000 fee for every 10 new multi-family units built, with the money raised targeted for construction of affordable housing.

The ordinance was apparently premised on an assumption that any new development would have a roughly equivalent mix of apartments of varying sizes.

But, at Monday's Planning and Development Committee meeting, Rainey noted that a development composed of small studio apartments designed to appeal to residents with relatively modest incomes would end up burdened with proportionately much higher fees per square foot than a luxury development full of large two- and three-bedroom units.

For example, the impact on the cost per square foot of a 400 square foot unit would be four times as great as on a unit of 1,600 square feet.

Some recent transit-oriented developments in the city — all approved or submitted for review before the revised ordinance took effect —  have been heavily weighted toward smaller apartment units.

Rainey asked staff to consider revisions to the ordinance to address that disparity.

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