Picking up on a national study of metro areas, Evanston officials have applied the study’s data framework to Evanston and concluded that the city ranks relatively low in attractiveness to ethnic and racial minorities.

The original study, by the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism, ranks 52 U.S. metro areas based on the home ownership rate, median household income, level of self employment and population growth among three different minority groups — blacks, Hispanics and Asians.

On those metrics, the study concludes that fast-growing areas with affordable housing, largely in the south, are most attractive for minorities, while what the study refers to as “luxury cities” on the east and west coast — like New York and San Francisco — are among the least attractive.

The national study ranks the Chicago metro area 31st among the 52 cities in attractiveness for blacks, and the Evanston data places Evanston in a tie with Chicago for that rank.

The national study ranks Chicago 18th in attractiveness for Hispanics, and the Evanston data places Evanston in a tie with Los Angeles for 32nd place.

The national study ranks Chicago 21st in attractiveness for Asians, and the Evanston data places Evanston in a tie with Grand Rapids, Mich., and Pittsburgh for 41st place.

It’s worth noting that the large proportion of Asian residents of Evanston who are Northwestern University students — and as students are unlikely to own homes and have comparatively low incomes — probably depresses Evanston’s ranking compared to the data for metro areas as a whole, where college students form a much smaller segment of the population.

The study’s lead author, Joel Kotkin, has long promoted Houston’s style of sprawling growth, and the center sees itself as offering a counterpoint to city planning orthodoxy that favors what the center calls “forced densification.”

It says it wants to focus on “upward mobility, human capital development, small business expansion, governance and middle-wage job growth.”

The Evanston data collection was done by the city’s International City/County Management Association fellow, Oscar Murillo, and in distributing the analysis to reporters City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz praised his “outstanding work.”

Murillo, in a memo to aldermen, suggests the city could attempt to make Evanston more attractive to minorities by taking “housing affordability into account when considering land-use issues.”

The study, he says, “recommends that cities not excessively restrict housing supply through regulation, as it may drive up the cost of housing and discourage minorities from moving to and/or staying in cities.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Evanston for minorities

    Evanston's decreasing affordability is an issue for all middle class and working class residents, not just minorities. Contrary to the article's conclusions, Evanston's school system, parks, commercial sector and social support services make it an attractive place for minorities to reside…which is precisely why so many live here.

    1. Schools

      Hi Derrick,

      The original study looked only at metro areas — and, as we well know, the quality of schools can vary dramatically within a given metro area — so it seems entirely plausible for the study to not have considered schools.

      The Census Bureau data compiled by the City of Evanston indicates that the black population of Evanston declined by nearly 19 percent between 2000 and 2013, while the Hispanic population increased 21.8 percent and the Asian population increased 78.5 percent.

      The white population of Evanston has increased slightly in percentage terms from 2000 to 2013 — from 65.2 percent to 67.5 percent.

      — Bill

  2. What am I missing?

    Mr. Murillo report concludes that  Evanston is not attractive for minorities.  Which nearby suburbs are more attractive to minorities than us (Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Niles, Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Northfield, ….)?  If our racial breakdown is not acceptable, then what are the target numbers we should be aiming for exactly (X% White, X% Black, X% Latino, X% Asian) Me thinks that people who get paid to do these kind of studies should get a real job.

    1. What you’re missing

      What you're missing is that the original study, as the story pointed out, looked at metro areas, not individual towns.

      The Evanston city staffer checked how Evanston's numbers would compare to those metro areas. The status of other individual towns in the Chicago metro area was beyond the scope of the work — although in terms of housing affordability we know that Skokie, Morton Grove and quite a few other communities to our west and south are more "attractive."

      The point also was not to establish a fixed percentage of minorities as being the "right" number. The study only looked at the rate of growth in the minority population in different metros. A faster increase made a metro area, for this study's purposes, more desirable.

      Personally I think that's a somewhat questionable metric — people may move to an area they dislike because there happen to be more jobs there, for instance. But drawing more people certainly is one way of measuring "attractiveness."

      — Bill

    2. I have to agree
      Despite the hazy difference as written between whether Evanston is compared with Chicago, Metro area or by itself, Evanston has to stand head-and-shoulders above the other suburbs mention. I suspect each of those suburbs have a very low minority population and so it is hard for those groups to say they are dis-satisfied, if they don’t live there for whatever reason.
      Evanston by contrast has a large minority population [though always seems to find “reasons” to exclude Asians in any discussion or count] and they just like whites complain about the way things are but how great other places are “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
      As described the student [Metro and Local] adds to the sloppy analysis we get with these reports—whether negative or “…[Evanston] is in the top ten places in the world to live…” studies. I smell an agenda at work.

      1. This study appears to say

        This study appears to say little or nothing about any city that can be proved. I hope our state and federal government didn't waste any money on this.

        Evanston in the top 10 places in the world to live ,,,,,,,,,,, maybe 45 – 50 years ago that was true.

        1. The Always Dependable Skipw

          You can always count on skipw to make a disparaging remark about the town he, ironically, chooses to live in. "Evanston isn't what is used to be…" is a laughable cliche. I've been hearing that line since I moved here in 1975. 

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