Action to expand Evanston’s so called inclusionary housing ordinance was put on hold for two weeks Monday night after Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the plan would be unfair to middle-income renters.

Wilson said that under the scheme proposed by city staff people like him who live in single-family homes will never have to pay for it.

While the amount of housing considered affordable in Evanston under government guidelines has declined in recent years — a decline also seen in most other communities — Wilson said it’s not developers who have caused that change. Instead, he said, it’s a result of stagnant incomes and rising housing costs.

The proposed ordinance amendments would require developers to provide at least 10 percent of the units in most multi-family rental and for-sale developments to residents who meet city-mandated income guidelines.

Wilson argued that the costs of the program would be passed along to the other tenants of such buildings in the form of higher rents or purchase prices.

“This is a targeted tax — a middle-income tenant tax,” Wilson said.

He said the scheme amounts to a lottery in which one of every 10 residents of a building would win, while the rest would lose.

He suggested that any scheme to construct more modestly-priced housing should be more broadly funded — perhaps with an increase in the tax on property transfers.

Voters have twice rejected raising Evanston’s real estate transfer tax in referendums over the past decade. In 2006 a proposal to raise the tax to pay for affordable housing programs was rejected by a 52 to 48 percent margin. In 2008 a similar increase proposed to help cover increased payments to the police and fire pension funds was rejected by a 58 to 42 percent vote.

Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward.

Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, seconded Wilson’s motion to postpone the vote, to give staff time to respond to Wilson’s concerns. Under council rules, a motion by two aldermen to hold off a vote for two weeks doesn’t require a vote by the rest of the nine aldermen to take effect, but the tactic can only be used once on a given agenda item.

So the council will next debate the subsidized housing plan on Nov. 23.

In other discussion on the issue Monday, Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward raised concerns about how the ordinance would apply to people who met the income limits when they qualified for a subsidized housing unit but whose income later rose above those limits.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, who indicated he supports the proposed ordinance, said he hoped that aldermen with questions about it would join him in attending the next meeting of the city’s Housing and Homelessness Commission, at 7 a.m. on Nov. 20.

Related stories

City sees 2,500 new housing units here (11/9/15)

Aldermen vote for inclusionary housing scheme (10/27/15)

Ideas floated for broad housing tax (6/30/15)

Taking a gamble on affordable housing (6/8/15)

Aldermen to rework ‘inclusionary’ housing plan (7/29/14)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Alderman Wilson is right, the

    Alderman Wilson is right, the inclusionary housing plan would be unfair to middle income renters but it would also be unfair to all Evanston taxpayers. After all, Evanston already has over 15 percent of this type of housing. It is time for other towns do their part.

    On the other hand, 65 to 70 percent of the jobs created over the last 6 years are part-time, minimum wage, or both. Also, you have the long term unemployed which help make the true unemployment rate about 9.2 percent. These people need affordable housing

    One last thing, instead of spending 500,000 to 600,000 thousand dollars on teen counselors and broken mansions, why not return a million dollars to taxpayers and become a hero and not a heel.

    1. Who is Affordable Housing for ?

      Many of the Council and other groups arguments for 'Affordable Housing' were originally made for teachers, policemen, firemen and such to be able to afford to live in Evanston.

      Then 'Low Income' housing was tacked on and sometimes 'Mixed Income' Housing. So arguments for Affordable housing become muddled in that no one is sure which group(s) the campagin is out to include in each proposal.  Listeners think Proc/Con on who they think is being refered to. Mostly it seems low income is meant and the teachers, policemen and such have been left out.

  2. Please do think this through
    I moved to Evanston in 2005 specifically to raise my family. Everybody here knows what the benefits of our community are. Sadly, my financial status has not kept pace with the rising cost of living here. As a single mom of three kids, I usually have to choose – – shall I pay rent, or pay for utilities and groceries?

    It’s not affordable to live in Evanston any longer, unless you make at least 2-3 times minimum wage. And anybody who thinks we have plenty of affordable housing lives in a far more fortunate, alternate universe than my family and I.
    I shouldn’t have to move an hour away just to afford rent, but that’s what I have to consider – – taking my kids away from their grandparents, their father, their friends, doctors, counselors and everything they know.
    Almost every time people discuss “affordable housing,” somebody brings up crime, drugs, and the willfully unemployed. Well, I am willfully employed, don’t use drugs, have no criminal activity, and even volunteer for the PTA…. but people like me – – and I am not alone – – no longer seem to belong here.
    I really appreciate that at least one of the Aldermen is really thinking beyond his own financial status and looking at how these choices impact others. Because I have seen nothing over the past 10 years that makes me think my family – – and other hard-working, lovely people around me–have a real future here. Soon enough, Evanston will be a shining Jewel of the real North Shore…. And it’s going to be spotlessly clean, nondiverse, and anything but welcoming.
    Single Mom

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