Evanston city officials will be looking for answers at a workshop tonight on what impact a proposed inclusionary housing ordinance may have on the city.

Residents, developers, lenders, real estate professionals and housing activists have been invited to attend the meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Parasol Room on the fourth floor of the Civic Center.

The notice promoting the meeting claims that the proposed ordinance “will result in additional affordable housing units to maintain an inclusive community for all residents.”

But that assertion depends on developers still finding it attractive to build here — even after the ordinance slashes their rate of return — in the city staff’s own estimates — by nearly 10 percent from what they could make on a similar project in another community.

The new ordinance would apply to rental developments. Adoption of the city’s existing inclusionary housing ordinance — which applies only to condomiums — was followed by a dry spell in condo construction which continues nearly a decade later.

The ordinance also would provide major density bonuses to developers in an effort to let them recoup some of the cost of a $100,000 inclusionary housing fee for every 10 units in a project.

That, city staff says, could mean a project that otherwise could have 75 housing units would end up with 114 — a more than 50 percent increase — a change that may prove unpalatable to residents concerned about height and density in new construction projects.

Share of U.S. households with housing cost burdens by region. (Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.) 

Evanston recently has seen a surge in construction of new rental housing, and a new report released last week by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies says that’s happening elsewhere across the country as well.

The number of people seeking rental housing has grown — both from households forced out of the ownership market by the recent crash in home prices and from demographic trends like the increase in younger, single-person households.

And, the Harvard study says, construction of new multi-family housing units has increased from a low of just under 110,000 in 2009 to nearly 360,000 last year. The share of those units planned as rentals has risen from 60 to 90 percent.

But the lag between the increase in demand and the delivery of new rental units means shortages continue — which forced up rental prices 3.2 percent last year.

With pay scales still lagging for most Americans, that means just under half of all renters were considered cost burdened in the most recent American Community Survey. That figure rises to 67 percent in Evanston, according to the city’s 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Let’s be fair about this

    Instead of just applying the inclusionary housing ordinance to new rental housing, why not make it retro active to all rental properties?  When a current renter moves out of an existing apartment, that unit, and any following units, must be rented to a financially challanged family until the building meets the proposed code.  After all, why should the age of the building be the deteremining factor?

    1. Sigh

      Who is going to pay for this?

      Have you thought about the economic impact your plan has on… Evanston?  Hmm, let's see, think anyone will stay or move to Evanston under your plan?

      And fairness?  Is this fair to those who work hard to afford to live in Evanston?  Or is it just another Liberal handout to pad the votes? Another classic case of progressive social engineering that feels good, but has catastrophic consequences in this thing we call reality.


      1. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

        I was just asking why only new rental buildings were made part of the proprosed ordinance, as this seems unfair to those who own them, but not those who own existing buildings.  And as far as this being my plan (the inclusionary ordinance), I can assure you that it isn't, as I am not an elected city council member nor do any city council members even know or care of my existence. 

    2. Sure let’s have it.

      Hahaha. Sure let's have it. We will then see more disturbances involving 50 people fighting (1900 Brown) on Maple St 😉 I'm sure that will attract businesses and people to town.

  2. Let businesses run their business

    Can't they just let businesses run their business? Let them charge what they want. If units aren't filled they'll start lowering prices. Stop trying to turn everything in to the area bordered by McCormick,Greenbay, Church, and Emerson. Doesn't take a genius to figure out what type of area most of the crime is in.

  3. Evanston has plenty of affordable housing
    The State of Illinois has legislation that identifies communities that are lacking in affordable housing. Guess what? Evanston is not one of those communities. We are in compliance with the law. End of story. It is not clear why the city is interested in manipulating the housing market.


      Just refer to Dan's post (ided below) for the obvious answer.

      Submitted by Dan (not verified) on June 29, 2015 – 2:44pm


  4. Really?

    Why are we having meetings to try and to come up with ways to raise taxes on hardworking people who are already over-taxed while simultaneously subsidizing low or no-income renters???  This is insane.  The 50 "social justice warriors" who went to this meeting need to get a clue.  The rest of us had too much common sense and were too busy doing actual good to go to such a ridiculous meeting.

    I own my home in the 5th ward.  My wife and I work hard to maintain our property, pay our taxes, and make a positive impact on our community.  However, my neighborhood is still infested with gangs, violence, and the illegal sale of narcotics, alcohol, and tobacco.

    It's also infested with "Affordable Housing" rental properties that are dilapidated and littered with rubbish that spills into our yards and alleyways.  Why don't we take this opportunity to improve the affordable housing we already have before we add more?

    Then after a safe, clean neighborhood with plentiful affordable housing is created (which would probably be the first time in human history that has ever happened) we can continue this discussion about how we should subsidize more affordable housing in Evanston that hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers will be financially responsible for.

    1. cleaning up the neighborhood

       Cleaning up the environment may just lead to desirable affordable housing!

      What is needed are yards that are clean and tidy, sidewalks free of broken glass and litter, landlords who are tasked with upkeep of their properties.  It must be very difficult for a conscientious  home owner such as Edward to be surrounded by such careless and uncaring neighbors.  Brooms and dustpans are not that expensive.  Some sanding and paint can do wonders.  A mowed lawn doesn't require an advanced degree.  Who knows, pride in neighborhood might lead to less crime.

  5. Easy way—but not effective
    Like the old story of a well-known tax and spend teacher asking a student to answer a question and the student replies “I did not hear the question but the answer is to raise taxes.”
    The Council thinks the solution to every problem is more taxes. Here the cry is for more taxes, penalize builders—but the ‘root’ they never seem to get to is stopping poverty, stopping crime, improving education [except throw more money at it] and providing and getting the population to where they can fill jobs. Taxes will only keep employers out and residents moving ASAP. The same with crime.
    If the Council wants to get serious, they should clean-up the crime area that are evident to everyone but them. Take steps to prevent teen pregnancy, keep families [two parent] together, go after fathers who don’t pay child support, go after students who cut school/classes, make sure student are held to a high standard or take remedial education steps [maybe welfare payments withheld if that fails], hold teachers responsible for doing a good job instead of saying all the ‘failures’ are some one else’s fault, make school year round [if not 250 days per year then short breaks during the year instead of three month summers where students forget so much of what they learned—and get in trouble on the streets..

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