This week's move by Evanston aldermen to advance affordable housing strategies may have been prompted in part by a lobbying effort from a recently organized coalition of advocacy groups working in the housing field.
The groups, organized under the name Joining Forces for Affordable Housing, gathered down the hall from the City Council Chambers just before Monday's council meeting to unveil a set of proposed guidelines for decisions on housing issues.
Sue Loellbach, advocacy director for Connections for the Homeless and one of the organizers of the new group said it now has more than 30 organizations as members and 100 individual activists.
The group's proposed guidelines include:
- Dispersing affordable units throughout the community, giving priority to projects in areas that now have few affordable options.
- Including affordable housing in transit-oriented developments, while at the same time distributing affordable housing across the city.
- Prioritizing rental developments and rental subsidies over home ownership programs.
- Rejecting "Not in my back yard" objections against development projects..
- Not limiting occupancy of new affordable housing to current Evanston residents, because of the need for affordable housing throughout the region.
- Minimizing displacement of current residents when new development occurs.
- Giving priority to projects that will help people who have the most trouble finding affordable housing -- including low-income, elderly, disabled, homeless and families with children.
- Favoring projects that provide the longest affordability time period for housing.
While Loellbach said she recognizes that Evanston can't completely solve the problem of housing affordability on its own and that the problem can't be solved quickly, she said the coalition seeks to ultimately achieve a socioeconomically and racially divers community where all people can live without housing cost burden.