With all the talk we have about affordable housing, why don’t we get down to brass tacks and talk about what is “affordable” to whom? Rather than use some percentage calculator, which I always feel like I have to rub my tummy and my head and it’s about as clear as mud, let’s just say what dollar wage per hour, number of hours you need to work, yearly amount and how many people need to live with you. Then let’s figure out how many shortcuts do you need to take in order to pay basic expenses. I always find it interesting that when there is a discussion of affordable housing it’s not defined in concrete, plain language. The honest truth is it’s probably a $25 to $30 an hour wage needed as a single person living alone in Evanston.

So what can be done about this? Right now, I know alternative dwelling units or tiny homes or whatever are being looked into as an option here. But since we are such a desirable place to live, and so many people want to be here, what about some sort of contest which would provide people who are in-between jobs or not making enough some sort of stipend to do contributions to E-Town, not unlike that of the WPA during the last century, to contribute artistic talent to further beautify the City and create temporary installations or things to send people into downtown businesses (which would help support local businesses and bring more money in town). You could also throw in those who farm community gardens and entrepreneurs who teach others how to fish or do side hustles, to name a few. 

Anyway, no time like the present to explore the positive. Connect. And find ways to give people a hand. It’s not a level playing field, and if you are more than comfortable, remember, you just got lucky. Really. “To those much has been given, much is expected,” as stated by a fabulously wealthy friend. She’s right. If something is not done on the score, the pandemic will continue because people will work multiple jobs just to pay their bills and maybe even go to in-person jobs sick.

There’s a place at the table for everyone, really. We’re all human beings, right? And in the end we’re all going to the same sort of place. I mean, we all have a limited “shelf life,” so why not live not about the “self life,” but look out, help out, live, love and lead with loving kindness.

– Brooke Murphy Roothaan