6 replies on “No more delay tactics on affordable housing”

  1. “Affordable” is a relative term, as we know. A developer can build affordable housing which is not made expensive by having to fight community opposition and go through various government regulations. The developer can make a dwelling unit affordable simply by the right choices in size and construction. He can price it on a cost-plus basis, instead of demand-pull (“charging what the traffic will bear”). This would seem to be especially feasible in a large multi-unit building with a wide range of unit sizes. A dwelling unit can be built to be affordable to households with lower incomes, to a point. I don’t know where that point is. But as long as the developer doesn’t ask government for special treatment, or get involved with special set-asides for affordability, it should be doable. I’m admittedly not familiar with Evanston’s regulations about these latter. I know that once you talk about “mixed-income” housing, that probably refers to some special regulations. I’m just talking about a mixed-price group of dwellings, the range of prices being determined by size and construction. You can put a mixed-price development on the market without setting any income restrictions even on the lowest-priced units. I see too many new multi-family buildings being built where the size range of dwelling units is narrow – and all are advertised as “luxury apartments.”

  2. Sue Loellbach’s letter provides a clear and compelling explanation of how affordable housing projects get caught in delay after delay. I would add it would provide an excellent introduction to the field. Thank you for drawing out the points, noting the costs to the program if architects, planners, city officials, engineers, et.al have to attend repeated meetings. 51 units is an unheard of opportunity in this city. Evanston needs affordable housing. Full stop.

  3. I agree that delaying tactics are fruitless and expensive. While we at Sherman Gardens are not pleased to have yet another high rise in the neighborhood, to say nothing about having to live through yet another construction project across the street, we are not (to my knowledge) the source of this latest effort.

    1. Sherman Gardens is a sibling development to the co-op I live in in Chicago. There are about a dozen of these in the Chicago area. All were built to be affordable, but there have never been any income requirements, other than can the applicant afford the assessments. When these were built, there was no Section 8 program, etc.

  4. I live right next to the Walchirk Apartments, in a market-rate condo.

    I think an ancient and hoary question — with which our society is still grappling — is: Is it, or is it not, unseemly to desire to live in an area with only people of your own income-level? In the USA you can buy tobacco, or a gun, or works of art that others might consider obscene. But what about housing away from poor people? Can you buy that? Ought you to be able to? I wrestle with this question as a self-made person whose own parents were poor (due to bad choices) and who sometimes lived in “poor people housing.” I’m sure my perspective would be impacted if I lived in Evanston because I’d had wealthy, successful parents, and they bought me a house here, or something like that. I think another interesting question is: Are we importing public housing becuase we think it will be salutary for the residents. . . or because we think it will be salutary for us?

  5. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2021/01/14/four-reasons-why-more-public-housing-isnt-the-solution-to-affordability-concerns/
    1. The area chosen already has two affordable housing options- The Walchik building and the building above Stacked and Folded which was supposed to have affordable housing, but, SURPRISE, is not affordable nor does it provide enough parking for all the residents–as does not the new proposal. Traffic and parking problems are at the max.
    2. The plan turns suggests a narrow alley into which garages open can be a major thoroughfare
    3. The residents of the current affordable building do not support this project, nor do the businesses on Noyes St. or the other residents.
    This neighborhood supported the supposedly affordable rentals mentioned in 1 and was blindsided when it became just another unaffordable building. We have been good neighbors to the Walchik building even when HACC did not hear the pleas to place new utilities on the roof where they would not violate federal decibel level regulations. They have not been good stewards.
    Come check out the plan. Why a 6 story building with only 51 affordable apartments and not enough parking that presents a brick wall to two other successful, moderate rental and condo buildings? The Noyes area residents have been good sports up to now –but it’s time for HACC to look for another location.

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