“This is a fabulous new development,” U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky told a small crowd gathered this morning for the grand opening of the 16-unit Housing Opportunities for Women affordable housing development in Evanston.

“There was a time, before Ronald Reagan, when the United States was committed to affordable housing, and there were programs to actually build homes for people,” Schakowsky added.

YouTube video

A video of the ceremony, hosted by HOW CEO Britt Shawver.

She said the new building at 1305 Pitner Ave. is a model of the “safe and beautiful and wonderful place to live” that shouldn’t be too much for Americans to ask for.

Christine Moran, managing director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, said the development was one of several projects, totaling 125 units, that IHDA supported during its last funding round.

“It’s wonderful to see what help from state and local elected officials can do to bring affordable housing to communities like Evanston,” Moran said, adding that a new funding round is now open, and “I hope you will apply for more in Evanston.”

Robin Snyderman of the Regional Housing Initiative, said the collaborative of 10 housing agencies in the Chicago area has made it possible to provide more rental subsidy vouchers in communities like Evanston that offer better employment and educational opportunities and has created a region-wide wait list and also offers preferences to people who work near development sites like this one.

Peter Braithwaite.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward include the new apartment building, alluding to opposition to the development from some neighbors, said that Evanston embraces the issue of providing affordable housing, but when it comes to placing a new subsidized development, “good luck with that one.”

He said neighborhood concerns are an issue the city will need to pay more attention to as it looks to do more to address housing issues.

He noted a tour for neighbors of the property held earlier this week, and said he’s identifying community ambassadors who will be ready to welcome the new residents of the development to Evanston and the 2nd Ward.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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