A proposal to dramatically expand Evanston’s inclusionary housing ordinance drew both fans and foes to the speakers podium at Monday’s City Council meeting

Leticia Barge, an outreach minister at the First Church of God Christian Life Center, 1524 Simpson St., said housing policies should enhance the diversity of Evanston and that very little new housing has been built on the city’s west side.

The Rev. Debra Bullock, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1509 Ridge Ave., said the proposed changes wouldn’t do enough to promote affordable housing in the city, but would be an improvement over the current law.

Jane Wickencamp.

Jane Wickencamp, chair of the city’s Commission on Aging, said senior citizens are being priced out of Evanston and that thousands of affordable housing units have been lost in recent years.

Brendan Saunders.

Brendan Saunders, of the Highland Park based advocacy group Open Communities, said there is broad community support for inclusionary housing, but that the ordinance should be amended to provide density bonuses for developers who provide affordable housing and to make sure that the affordable units aren’t concentrated in certain neighborhoods.

Howard Handler.

But Howard Handler of the North Shore Barrington Association of Realtors, said affordable housing ordinances make housing more expensive, not less, by increasing costs for buyers and renters of new units in developments where builders are required to subsidize other units.

And while the ordinance would increase costs for moderate income purchasers and renters, Handler said, it would impose no extra cost on the buyer of a new multi-million dollar single-family home.

Dan Schermerhorn, of the property management firm Schermerhorn & Co., said the provision in the ordinance expanding coverage from developments of 25 or more units to any development of five or more units would have a severe impact on small condo and rental projects.

“Adding $100,000 to $200,000 to the cost of such developments would be catastrophic,” Schermerhorn said, because maintenance costs per unit are higher for smaller developments.

The ordinance would lead to smaller existing properties not being upgraded, he added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. If you subsidize something, you get more of it
    There is an old economic adage based on the law of supply and demand: If you subsidize something, you get more of it. Conversely, If you tax something, you get less of it.

    Subsidizing “affordable” housing doesn’t reduce costs. Those costs are merely shifted to the remaining payers. As a result, remaining housing becomes more expensive, causing many to also approach the city “hat in hand” for a subsidy. Subsidizing one only results in subsidizing more.

    What is the goal here? It appears that, once the artificially positive rhetoric is stripped away, it’s nothing more than advocating that some should be able to live at the expense of others.

    Don’t get me wrong. Charity and philanthropy are noble and just pursuits. However, forcing such ought not to be a role of government.

    1. subsidies don’t work

      You're right, Bastiat….subsidies aren't the answer.

      What Evanston needs to do is get rid of its obnoxious zoning rules that prevent builders from constructing affordable housing.

      Of course, the NIMBYs will whine….but there is no reason we can't put up more highrises, rowhouses, or trailer parks in Evanston.

    2. You must be new

      You must be new to Evanston. The laws of economics don't apply here. Or I should say no one pays any attention to them. The answer to almost every question is, "Yes, let's get the government to do that! It'll cost how much? Lalalalalalalalalalala (fingers in ears)"

    3. Subsidize

      Get it right or (write).  Subsidies should be clearly explained and not left to the empty  conclusion of who pays for what and WHY.   The "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has been the empty rhetoric that has been forced by some to believe that  government should provide these needs.

      The WHY is what people would feel comfortable in living in a high rise complex among a group of people that feel that their right to happiness is for them alone and no one else that cannot afford their right should be excluded.  Evanston has typically been a family oriented, university town.

       Narrow streets and narrow minds that cannot accommodate the influx and inclusion of the most valued patrons of the university has become burdensome.   Outgrowing the budget for necessaties for infrastructure created  bonding issues that are attached to taxpayers that are paying for the their necessities.

      True zoning is a factor in affordable housing.  A neighborhood that has been impacted by rezoning from residential to commercial property  to relocate the necessity to house an administration/eary childhood education building that consumes 2 city blocks.   Precious open space that once enjoyed what life had to offer in the way of a playgound for various sports activities for the neighborhood children, soccer moms from other communitie ,etc..  Is now a playground for children behind bars.   Children playing games in the streets where traffic has incresed to the point that  road bumps/humps have been installed. 

      Laws and   ordinances that are changed but not enforced because of lack of policing.  Listen to the the City Council meetings and be mindful of what issues are being addressed and commented on by members of council.   The concerned citizens are few and have often been insulted by their comments.  Consultants and professionals that are called on because the issues cannot be decided on for the good of the people but for their own self serving interest. 

      Their is alot to to be appreciated in Evanston.  But being the most liveable and lovable, hmmmmm.

      1. Individuals have the right to
        Individuals have the right to PURSUE happiness, not the right to happiness, itself. People would be wise to observe the difference between equal pursuit versus equal outcomes. One offers equality, while the other guarantees inequality (since “equality” seems awfully important to Evanston residents).

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