Study would explore creating affordable housing for artists


The City Council will be asked Tuesday to approve spending $25,000 for a preliminary feasibility study from a Minneapolis-based group regarding the prospects of creating affordable housing for artists in Evanston.

In a memo to aldermen, Community Development Diretor Johanna Leonard describes Artspace, the group that would conduct the study, as a nonprofit arts organization that develops, owns and manages properties that seek to “create affordable spaces for artists, arts and cultural organizations and crative businesses.”

On its website, Artspace says it operates more than 50 preoprties that include over 1,000 residential units.

They include four sites in Illinois — two in Chicago, and one each in Elgin and Waukegan.

Leonard says staff sought out a proposal from ArtSpace after Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, suggested last spring that the city should investigate whether the organization would be interested in developing affordable artist spaces here.

Staff is proposing that the study be funded from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund, although the Housing and Homeless Commission recommended against using those funds for the project last month — suggesting using economic development funds instead.

The proposal is one of a half dozen items on the agenda for the Council’s quarterly update on affordable housing issues.

Editors’ Picks