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In Evanston, it is illegal for more than 3 unrelated adults to live in one apartment or house. This restriction, documented in the City’s zoning code, is often referred to as “the 3-Unrelated Rule,” or more interestingly, “the Brothel Law.”
Although the rule is examined every few years, it has remained in place. The most persistent argument in support of the rule is that it is perceived as a way to minimize the conversion of single-family homes for use by Northwestern students – with accompanying changes in neighborhood character and an increased frequency of nuisance behavior by students.
Joining Forces opposes the rule because 1) it limits the ability of people who can’t afford their own housing to reduce their costs by sharing housing with others, and 2) it has failed to prevent conversion of single-family homes into student housing or relieve the stress on neighbors of student “party houses.”
Joining Forces advocates that this law be repealed and that the City change its zoning code to:
• Remove occupancy limits that are based on relationships among tenants; and
• Establish limits based on objective measures, such as number of people per bedroom or per square foot that will allow full use of the property while preserving resident safety.
Sharing housing has always been a survival strategy for people who cannot afford housing on their own. The 3-Unrelated rule prohibits this strategy, even criminalizes it.
By repealing the rule, the City can take immediate action to increase affordable housing opportunities, with no cost in subsidies or programming.
Joining Forces has other objections to the 3-Unrelated Rule including::
1. The rule is discriminatory and perpetuates inequity and exclusion.
2. Zoning is not an appropriate tool with which to manage resident behavior.
3. The law sets arbitrary limits that fail to prevent overcrowding.
4. Enforcement of the law is highly unlikely and a poor use of City resources.
5. The rule is an ineffective tool for managing neighborhood change.
Read more about Joining Forces’ objections to the 3-Unrelated Rule on our blog at https://joiningforces.connect2home.org/blog/its-time-to-update-the-brothel-law.
— Sue Loellbach, Manager of Advocacy, Joining Forces for Affordable Housing
Connections for the Homeless