'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances

Sarah Flax.

A bundle of revisions to the city ordinance that forces developers to provide subsidized housing units was introduced at Monday's City Council meeting.

There was no initial evidence of significant objections to the package from any aldermen although several housing activists argued for changes that could radically increase the burden on developers.

The revisions, developed over a year of meetings by a City Council subcommittee, were outlined by the city's housing and grants administrator, Sarah Flax.

The proposals would raise the fee in lieu charge for developers who didn't want to include subsidized units on site in rental developments from $100,000 to $175,000 downtown and from $75,000 to $150,000 elsewhere.

In lieu fees for condos would be increased to $262,500 downtown and $225,000 elsewhere.

The plan would offer developers some increases in height and density in exchange for the subsidized units or in lieu fees.

Developers of rental projects would have to provide 5 percent of their units on site at subsidized rents and would receive additional incentives if they provide 10 percent on site.

Sue Loellbach, of Connections for the Homeless, said she was pretty happy with many of the proposed changes -- but she urged that affordable units in for-sale projects should be reserved for residents with even lower incomes than what the ordinance called for, said that in-lieu fees should be increased even more and that the number of years that rental units are required to remain affordable should be extended.

Those sentiments were also echoed by several Reclaim Evanston activists.

The aldermen voted to schedule further debate and a potential final vote on the ordinance amendments for a special meeting on affordable housing issues that's scheduled for Monday, Oct. 29.

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