Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to act on two requests for forgivable loans from federal grant funds for low-income housing projects.

Housing Options for the Mentally Ill is seeking $468,777 to rehab 10 units in its portfolio of scattered site rental properties in Evanston.

And a new player on the subsidized housing scene in Evanston, Community Partners for Affordable Housing, is seeking $277,685 to purchase and rehab a foreclosed two-unit building with three-bedroom units for affordable rental housing.

Under federal guidelines, city officials say in a memo to aldermen, the city needs to commit $1.1 million of federal HOME funds to new projects by August. Combined, the two projects up for review Monday would meet about two-thirds of that goal.

Highland Park-based CPAH has worked on several projects in Highland Park and Lake Forest and elsewhere in Lake County and has recommendations from officials with those local governments.

CPAH plans to acquire a property through a short-sale or foreclosure once the plan is approved by the city. The proposal says that, to spread affordable housing across different neighborhoods, the new property would not be in either of the two census tracts targeted by the city’s $18 million federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant.

CPAH is approved by the federal government as a Community Housing Development Organization and operates under the community land trust model. A city staff memo says it is in the process of replacing the original land trust group in Evanston, the Citizens Lighthouse Community Land Trust, and absorbing CLCLT’s one Evanston property.

CLCLT was plagued with cost overruns on its project which required additional infusions of government funds, but officials from the other communities where CPAP has worked say it has avoided cost overruns and has reserves to deal with them if they should occur.

The loan to Housing Options would pay for entry-intercom system replacement, minor kitchen remodeling, furnaces, windows, and a porch replacement. Buildings to be upgraded are located at 2120 Jackson Ave, 1009 Florence Ave. and 419 Keeney St.

Housing Options owns six buildings in Evanston and has operated in the city since 1992.

It serves clients who generally have incomes from 30 to 50 percent of average median income and provides a variety of integrated support services designed to help participants keep their housing.

Those may include comprehensive case management, mental health therapy, psychiatric support, primary care coordination and vocational services.

Top: The property at 2120 Jackson Ave., one of those to be rehabbed under the proposed loan to Housing Options.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Subsidize something, you get more of it….

    What do subsidies really accomplish? Subsidies are a signal from the market.  In this case (as well as the numerous other Evanston projects demanding subsidies) that signal means "Evanston is too expensive, so we'll need extra funding just to consider you."

    It matters little whether the subsidies come from city, state, or the federal government.  The source of these funds is YOU, the taxpayer.

    The result of these subsidies is subtle, yet devastating in the long-term.  Subsidized entities are funded by non-subsidized ones (ie YOU). This imbalance causes those receiving subsidies to grow while the pool paying them shrinks.

    As these costs grow, taxpayers often vote with their feet (and take their capital with them).  Is it any surprise that IL ranks second worst in the nation in resident/capital flight?  Conversely, is it a coincidence that cities and states with the lowest taxes and regulations are seeing a massive inflow of residents and capital?

    My point is, if we want REAL prosperity, we need to listen to the market.  Rather than subsidize businesses, we should attract them by making our community more competitive (through lower taxation and regulation).  Yes, cutting spending, lowering taxes, and reforming our unfunded liabilities will hurt.  But this pain is trivial compared to what awaits us if we continue down our current path.

    1. Confused

      John D. has confused the facts of these proposed subsidies with his free-market principles. These are not profit-making businesses, so subsidizing them is not like bankrolling the wine bar, theater, or restaurant on Howard Street. Without a subsidy, they would not be able to serve these populations in Evanston or anywhere else. Perhaps John D, would rather see Evanston's mentally ill sleeping on park benches in the summer and over steam vents in the winter? It's clear he doesn't want them in his utopian (or dystopian?) free market back-yard, but guess what, they're already here! And they could be his sister, cousin or even his parents. And if he dislikes subsidies, I suppose he's ready to give up the mortgage interest deduction that applies to his home or condo, or the depreciation that the owner of his rental unit recieves. Truth is, everyone in America, whether millionaire or pauper, lives in subsized housing. It's just that some of us realize it. And John D. doesn't.

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