Panel to seek views on affordable housing strategies

Tom Lenz and Wendy Siegel of Millennia Consulting.

Consultants hired by the city met with the Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee Wednesday evening to discuss ways to collect feedback from Evanston residents about different strategies for improving housing affordability.

Consultants Tom Lenz and Wendy Siegel from Millennia Consulting described plans for conducting one-on-one meetings and small group discussion sessions with residents as well as offering an online survey.

The proposal would involve committee members and other interested residents in holding the sessions this fall, with a target of producing a report summarizing the findings by next January.

Lenz said the goal would be to "catalyze a lot of discussions around town" about the issue.

Some committee members, including Sarah Delgado, noted that other groups are already collecting information about the types of housing problems people are experiencing.

And Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, suggested the committee's research should focus more on people's reactions to possible solutions -- such as permitting smaller lot sizes and allowing garden apartments and two-flats where they aren't permitted now.

"There could be all kind of possiblities," Revelle said, "We want to hear from the community not only what the needs are, but see if there's buy-in for what we may end up proposing."

The committee members agreed to hold their next meeting in mid or late September, with the exact date to be determined.

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