If you’re wondering where affordable rental housing is located in Evanston, here’s an answer.

This map shows the location of subsidized rental housing in Evanston with funding through a variety of federal and state programs and through Evanston’s inclusionary housing ordinance.

The map shows properties with project-based vouchers, but not housing choice vouchers accepted by private landlords.

It also does not show “naturally occurring” affordable housing — properties for which asking rents would be considered affordable.

(Two developments on the list, completed several years ago, made “fee in lieu” payments to the city’s inclusionary housing program rather than provide affordable units on site.)

Update 3/8/23: Thanks to tips from several readers we added a number of properties to this story today. But we still may be missing some. If you’re aware of a property that should be added to the list, please let us know.

The city’s existing affordable housing is not distributed equally across the city’s wards. As shown in the chart, the heaviest concentrations are in the 5th, 1st and 4th wards.

The categories include housing for persons with physical disabilities, housing for low income families and individuals, SRO housing for men at the McGaw YMCA, housing for low income seniors, supportive housing for persons with mental issues and transitional housing for those experiencing homelessness.

The first subsidized housing that still exists in Evanston was the men’s residence at the McGaw YMCA, built in the 1920s.

The next burst of construction happened in the 1970s.

It included three large senior housing developments — Jane Perlman Apartments and Victor Walchirk Apartments in the 1st Ward and Ebenezer-Primm Towers in the 5th Ward — plus a collection of 45 scattered site townhomes owned by the Housing Authority of Cook County and the 30-unit Oak Tree Village development east of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center.

The 1990s saw construction of the 75-unit Jacob Blake Manor senior housing development plus the conversion of several older mid-size buildings to use as affordable housing.

Conversions of market-rate buildings continued in the 1st decade of this century — including the 48 unit Claridge Apartments

In the 2010s the city’s federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant brought 28-units of affordable new construction rentals in the Emerson Square apartments and townhomes as well as 41 units of rehabbed scattered site rentals among other additions to the affordable housing supply.

Starting late in the 2010s and continuing this decade the city’s Inclusionary Housing ordinance has added 63 new affordable units in developments that are mostly market-rate properties.

Of the 202 units “in the pipeline,” 98 are in mixed-income developments, with just over half of those in The Emerson, a Housing Authority of Cook County project planned for 1900 Sherman Ave.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Mayor Biss is not living up to his values. Time for him to apologize to the community for his hypocrisy.

    1. Agreed he says he is for affordable housing but wants to keep them only in certain wards! Notice he leaves in the 6th ward 0 affordable housing!

  2. “The city’s existing affordable housing is not distributed equally across the city’s wards. As shown in the chart, the heaviest concentrations are in the 5th, 4th and 1st wards.”

    And why should it be?

    1. Why should it not be?
      There is plenty of affordable housing in Skokie and Chicago, which are adjacent to Evanston. No need to build more.

      1. Because Evanston has a nasty history with redlining and this is just another way of them doing exactly that! Put affordable housing everywhere not only in certain areas! Why don’t certain areas have affordable housing and others have a way too many because that’s how they want it! Because they know putting affordable housing in areas like the 6th ward would bring down their property values but yet wants to tell the 5th ward that’s not the case and is not what’s going to happen!

  3. Our ancestors should be shaking in their graves right now! They fought so hard for equality in all forms! Yet here we are and still fighting redlining and segregation! Are we ok with them saying here’s a corner of Evanston ill give you what you want, but it won’t be throughout Evanston? Shame on those that think like that, affordable housing should be spread out through Evanston not only concentrated in a few wards! This is their way of keeping areas In poverty this is how they control you! When is enough, enough in the 5th ward?

  4. This supports what neighbors fighting against the proposed 44 unit “affordable housing” development are trying to get across. Why only the fifth ward. This does not reflect all the affordable housing as you say, there is a lot more privately owned. If the map reflected those as well the 5 ward would have a lot more blue little buildings.

  5. I’m not sure affordable housing is really an issue. Shouldn’t the market settle this? You can rent an apartment in Hoffman Estates for $1,453
    Evanston for $2,117 (rentcafe.com)
    Why are Evanston’s rents nearly 46% higher than Hoffman Estates?

    1. Thank you, John Foley! When I had moved out of my parents house many moons ago, I could not afford Evanston so I moved out where it was affordable. If location is an issue, cross the border into Rogers Park. Plenty of convenience there. I like to see these complainers go to Wilmette, Kenilworth and Winnetka and beg for affordable housing.

  6. The presentation of affordable housing in the various wards is misleading. Obviously, there is a marked difference between affordable units in a large mixed income (or downtown, high income) buildings and concentrations of low to low low income units as is required by LIHTC buildings, like 319 Dempster and the 1801-1805 Church St proposal. It is precisely the integration of income groups, as opposed to their segmentation, that predicts positive outcomes. I’d love to see this mix of affordable units alongside the median income of all residents in the buildings presented.

  7. Thanks to Evanstonnow for compiling and presenting this information. That said, there’s a lot more that needs to be known to have a thoughtful opinion. What is the definition of “affordable” and how does that relate to income and housing costs for actual people, in Evanston and elsewhere? What is the amount of “naturally occurring” affordable housing (and is there a way to encourage more of it)? How do “housing choice vouchers” actually work?
    It seems there might be some reasons those of us with low incomes would prefer to live in certain areas, particularly areas where public transportation and pedestrian access is better, so what happens when we add that in? Surely the City has got some research on this?

  8. Great article that adds more clarity as to why Mayor Biss is so profoundly out of touch with the reality of Evanston’s issues with affordable housing, homelessness, crime/public safety, vagrancy, aggressive panhandling, disorder, filth, graffiti, and on and on.

    He has said that he would welcome a homeless shelter next to his house in the 6th ward. Perhaps the next affordable housing project could be built on the vacant lot next to the Mayor’s house? Just a thought….

    1. My thoughts exactly they say that the only reason 5th ward has the highest affordable housing is because of availability of land!
      Yet there’s land that’s vacant by the 6th and 7th ward and they still building affordable housing where there’s to many and little to none in the area where there is much if it! What a joke

      1. Plus we all know that the reason it is more cost efficient to build in the fifth ward, and the reason there are available plots stems from a history of the city neglecting the ward and predatory lending practices. It’s not just by dumb luck it’s cheaper and easier to build these projects in the fifth, it’s by design. They kept the ward down, and now want to use it without acknowledging that. If they can change the fifth ward’s zoning with a simple vote, they could change anywhere else.

        1. Amen to this comment right here! Yes you are right on this. exactly what I’ve said to them zoning is just an excuse and we are tired of hearing it! 5th ward needs to band together and stand up against this issue this is just segregation and modernized redining! They just think we will turn a blind eye to this because it’s affordable housing! Evanston better think twice because we are bringing it!

  9. Another thought: when Northwestern builds their new stadium, the City could negotiate the inclusion of affordable housing in their build plan. This accomplishes many things including nearby jobs for the residents of said affordable housing, proximity to public transit and shopping, and more equitable distribution of affordable housing among the wards.

    Northwestern would be putting their money where their diversity, equity, and inclusion signaling mouth is!

    1. Agree but Evanston claims is diverse as well but yet the only area that shows that is the 5th ward! Evanston can but won’t put affordable housing in all wards! They need to also do what they say they stand for equality for all!

  10. Just exactly what financial benchmark does one use to determine exactly what “affordable housing” is?—-I’d like to think anyone willing to put in a dedicated forty hour work week can live in Evanston—-yeah, good luck with that

  11. Someone needs to pull a DeSantis and put all the homeless people in front of Biss’ house and say “good luck”.

    I can see it now – tent city on his front sidewalk, which is technically not his property, it’s the city’s. Or better yet, have them all hang out in his alley.

    That would be awesome.

    1. Great idea! Let’s make this clear what’s happening in the 5th ward now would not be happening in the 6th ward! Don’t let their little stories of zoning issues fool you, they can change that but just refuse to

  12. When you look at this map it make you go hmmm. This is so disgusting and obvious redlining! Evanston should be a shamed and silence makes you complicit.

    1. Do you know how they silence people by giving them what they want affordable housing! They want people to always depend on the government, this is how they keep you in there pockets!

  13. CPH has shown us for years that grouping all low income level people together is counter-productive and leads to generational poverty. The fifth ward has enough of this. Mixed income properties do better. Better still, ownership- and clearing the way for folks traditionally locked out of home ownership to buy actually creates generational wealth and increases value in the ward- which low income housing does not. It’s not just that they want all the poor people living in the 5th ward, they want to lock out investment by calling it “anti-gentrification” and “keeping it majority-minority”. Against Redlining has it right when s/he says the city doesn’t want affordable housing in the 6/7 wards- just keep shoving it all at the fifth ward, keeping their foot on the necks of homeowners here again and again. The new school will invite development and an influx of investment and I bet they will legislate against that, too. When property values go up- we all benefit. Just as long as we keep excluding the 5th ward from this benefit- the ward that deserves the most wealth creation out of all.

    1. Man, I couldn’t have said this better! These comments are the kind we need to hear at our next land commission meeting at the civic center on Monday at 5:30 wear red if you are against red lining and sign up to speak

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