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On October 28, 2011 U.S. Senator Richard Durbin toured part of Evanston’s Eighth Ward to view progress on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 program, the $18.15 million grant award the Senator helped the city secure to stabilize portions of west and south Evanston that have been hardest hit by foreclosures, and generate economic opportunities for local residents and businesses. The Senator visited two foreclosed properties on Callan and Custer Avenues that are part of that program.

The properties are located in Census tract 8102 in southeast Evanston, bounded by Howard to the south; Asbury to the west; Oakton to the north; and the Metra rail tracks to the east. It is one of the most transit-accessible areas of the city. According to the 2010 census, tract 8102 has approximately 3,000 housing units, of which approximately 15 percent are vacant. Its housing stock is predominantly multi-family, with many vintage, large courtyard buildings as well as two- to six-flats. Between 2000 and 2009, there were 60 condominium conversion projects affecting over 800 units in Evanston. Of those, 61 percent were located in 8102, where over 500 rental units were converted to condominiums. Fact sheet here>>>

The tour started at 140 Callan, a three-flat that was foreclosed on in 2008. Brinshore Development, LLC, the City’s development partner in NSP2, anticipated closing on this property in October 2010. However, just days before closing, the servicer of the property placed a moratorium on the sale of its foreclosed properties in Illinois while it reviewed foreclosure documentation. The property was finally acquired through NSP2 in September 2011, following two additional delays.

The tour ended at 313 Custer, a two-flat that was acquired in late May 2011. The property is currently under rehab with completion anticipated by year end 2011. Workers rehabbing the property stopped their work briefly for the tour and to greet the Senator. The property will be rented to households whose incomes do not exceed 120 percent of area median income.

Evanston’s NSP2 effort employs two strategies. First, the city will purchase and rehabilitate 100 foreclosed and vacant housing units throughout the target geography for sale or rent to income-eligible households. Second, the city will begin implementation of the West Evanston Master Plan with the purchase and redevelopment of vacant and blighted industrial property in west Evanston for the first phase of Emerson Square, a 60+ unit mixed-income community offering apartments, townhomes, flats and single family homes for rental and ownership.

To date, approximately 75 foreclosed housing units have been acquired or are under site control. Four units have been rehabbed and are on the market for sale or rent. Lead hazard abatement and rehabilitation work is underway on an additional 25 units. Fifteen of those 25 units are scheduled to be complete by year end 2011. The development team expects to break ground on Emerson Square in spring 2012, having secured a reservation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other financing from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.