Aldermen at the Aug. 13 City Council meeting approved $300,000 to  provide stable housing for two years for up to 10 at-risk, underemployed Evanston families with children under the age of 18. The program, tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA), received an increase of $50,000 over last year’s amount because of the higher rental costs. The funding comes from the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

As it did last year, Connections will administer the program, which is designed “to break the cycle of poverty and instability by developing the capacity to earn a living wage to support their families and afford market-rate rental housing,” according to a staff memo.

At the July 30 City Council meeting, aldermen postponed the vote on the TBRA funds because of a dispute between Connections and one of the landlords who rent to Connections clients.

Three members of the Paden family – Alvin Paden and his daughters Tina and Renee Paden – who own several properties and rent more than 40 units in Evanston, said Connections owes them $7,000. The three reiterated their claims on Aug. 13.

Several speakers during public comment expressed their support for Connections, its work and its staff.

Mark Tendam, retired Sixth Ward Alderman and current board member of Connections, said he had decided to devote time in his retirement to affordable housing issues and he felt Connections was the organization to join. He recounted some recent successes of Connections and said, “For me, it’s a no-brainer, because I’m inside the organization. I know their good work, and I know, through experience on the City Council, that the TBRA program has been a positive one.”

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said he was concerned about the Padens’ claim and asked Connections Executive Director Betty Bogg to speak.

“The amount that she says she is owed is in dispute, so we don’t feel we owe that money,” Ms. Bogg said. She also said Connections pays the landlords and is reimbursed afterward. “We’re not sitting on that money and not paying.” She added she did not wish to say more about the situation since Ms. Paden had indicated she might pursue legal action against Connections.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she supported allocating the money to Connections, because it is the only organization in Evanston capable of administering the funds. She also said she knew the Paden family and their willingness to rent their properties to families through TBRA and the housing voucher program.

Ald. Rainey asked that the parties sit down soon and try to work out the problem. Aldermen unanimously approved the $300,000 for Connections.