Rodney Orr.

A coalition of affordable housing activists hopes to have a report on how they believe Evanston’s zoning rules aggravate the affordable housing crisis ready by the end of this year.

Rodney Orr, community organizer with the advocacy team at Connections for the Homeless, told residents at a 9th Ward meeting Wednesday night that Connections is working with several groups to gather data for the project, including Evanston Own It, Evanston Latinos, Radio La Difference, the Evanston NAACP and Advocates for Action.

A slide from Orr’s presentation to the ward meeting.

Orr said that what they’re calling the Equitable Zoning Project is based in part on a study prepared for Connections by the consulting firm ZoneCo that was released last summer.

That report flagged many zoning code provisions as inequitable, economically inefficient and exclusionary.

Among other proposals, it suggested the city should drop efforts to define “family” in the zoning code and instead use the building code to regulate overcrowding issues and health and safety standards.

Orr said the grant-funded work now underway is designed to gather more evidence of how zoning “is affecting people in their day-to-day lives.”

Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th), who’s vice president of Evanston Latinos, said he was recently appointed to the city’s Housing and Community Development Committee and is looking forward to working on affordable housing issues.

“It’s not an easy problem to tackle,” Geracaris said, “but I’m open-minded about changing the way we do things.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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