For the last four years, I have served as the Council’s representative on the Housing, Homelessness and Human Relations Commission. I am proud of all the work that I have done in this role but none more than the overhaul of the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance.
The changes that we have made will, by the end of this year, grow the Affordable Housing Fund to between $3 and $4 million. This is not a one-time increase: the changes we made to the Ordinance will continue to generate Affordable Housing funds year after year. This will help make us more independent in our efforts to create and sustain affordable living options here in Evanston. These changes will also strengthen our ability to stand up to Federal cuts that we might see under the current administration, which has vowed to oppose our Sanctuary City status by any means possible.
Other changes to the Ordinance increase the City’s ability to bargain with developers for the inclusion of affordable units in their projects. One such project is currently under way with a local developer (and Evanston resident). Because of the changes we made to the Ordinance, that developer has agreed to include four units of affordable housing in the project.
As Mayor I will build on these successes with the following actions:
- I will continue to work with developers to incentivize them to create affordable housing options in Evanston.
- I will continue to work with Council and Staff to find additional sources of dollars for the Affordable Housing Fund. One option that I support will be to increase the tax paid in connection with residential “tear down” projects. However we feel about tear downs, we have to acknowledge that tearing down small “starter homes” in Evanston has a real cost. I believe that it is only fair for us to ask anyone who takes small, single-family homes out of the housing pool to help us re-balance the market in other ways. Development is good, but maintaining the character, diversity and values of our City is critical.
- I will continue to push for initiatives that encourage the development of energy-efficient homes in Evanston. Housing is only “affordable” if a family can actually afford to live there for the long term. This will also help make Evanston greener.
- I will encourage the development of attractive, safe, shared living projects (like the one that Ald. Rainey and I supported earlier this year) which will provide clusters of single room occupancy type accommodations with shared kitchens and living areas. This would require us to do a better job of educating our residents about the positive benefits of encouraging these sorts of developments.
- I will push for the elimination of our so-called “Brothel Law” that prevents more than three unrelated persons from occupying a residential unit.
- I will ask the Council to reconsider the City’s ordinances regarding occupancy of auxiliary buildings like coach houses, and encourage the City to permit coach houses to serve as residencies across the City.
- I will continue to be laser-focused on creating more and better employment options in Evanston because at the end of the day, that is the best way to ensure that everyone who wants to live here can.