A new study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found substantial levels of gentrification in many big city neighborhoods, but concluded there was no area of Evanston that is experiencing gentrification.

That’s in part because only one Evanston census tract met the study‘s threshold standards for being capable of being gentrified — that the median household income and median home values in the neighborhood in 2000 were in the lower 40 percent for each value in the Chicago metro area.

The one part of Evanston the study says could gentrify is census tract 8102 on the south edge of Evanston, bounded by Howard Street, Asbury Avenue, Oakton Street and the CTA tracks.

It had a median home value in 2000 of $182,017 — just below the study’s cutoff of $183,040. And the median household income there in 2000 was $59,830 — a bit below the cutoff of $61,121.

Those figures, from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, are inflation-adjusted to be comparable to estimated values in 2013. And far from seeing rising values, by 2013 home values in tract 8102 had slumped to $177,300, and median household incomes had dropped to $55,123.

By contrast, the study found hundreds of neighborhoods in the City of Chicago which met the criteria for being capable of being gentrified and 26 where gentrification had actually happened during the period from 2000 to 2013.

The NCRC study looked at three factors in determining whether gentrification had taken place — increases in education levels, home values and income.

In Chicago, the NCRC found, the average gentrified neighborhood had seen a 56 percent increase in median home values, a 38 percent increase in median household income and a 217 percent increase in the share of residents who possessed at least a bachelor’s degree, to 23 percent of all residents.

By contrast, in Evanston, across all neighborhoods, home values increased 11 percent, median household income declined 14 percent and the share of residents with bachelor’s degrees increased 19 percent, to 73 percent of all residents.

In the period studied by NCRC most new construction in Evanston happened downtown and along the Chicago Avenue corridor.

Despite claims that new construction would gentrify those neighborhoods, here’s what the NCRC data shows:

  • Downtown, in tract 8094, population increased 12 percent but median home values rose only 1 percent and median household income declined by 21 percent.
  • On the Chicago Avenue corridor, in tract 8099, population increased 25 percent but median home values declined 19 percent and median household income fell 2 percent.

Most new condos constructed during the period, while not cheap on a square-footage basis, were considerably less expensive than many large, older single-family homes already in those neighborhoods close to the lakefront.

Of course, the absense of gentrification doesn’t mean that housing in Evanston is affordable to everyone.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority reported in January that it considers 17.5 percent of housing in Evanston to be affordable, an increase over earlier this decade and by far the best for any Cook County community with lake frontage, but only about average for all 31 northern Cook County communities.

Related stories

D.C. has the highest ‘intensity’ of gentrification of any U.S. city, study says (Washington Post, 3/19/19) 

Housing affordability rebounds in Evanston (1/11/19)

More coverage of affordable housing

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Can we FINALLY stop wasting city time on housng?
    This is not surprising. The city already meets the state’s threshold for having an adequate supply of affordable housing. More development in recent years results in more supply. More supply keeps prices reasonable.

    Let’s put to bed all of the “affordable housing” taskforces and let the city concentrate on things that actually are legitimate problems.

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