Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct the year the affordable housing demolition tax was last updated. It was updated in 2019, not 2012.

The Equity and Empowerment Commission plans to present three affordable housing strategies to the Housing and Community Development Committee on Tuesday, March 21.

The commission decided on these three strategies, intended to help stop residents from being priced out of Evanston, in October 2022 after its equity survey showed affordable housing is a community concern. The strategies are:

  1. Anti-predatory tactics: The commission calls for a new ordinance that would fine real estate developers $2,000 to $10,000 for repeated, unsolicited attempts to convince homeowners to sell.
  2. Demolition tax: The commission seeks to amend the current affordable housing demolition tax, which hasn’t been updated since 2019. The amendment would increase the cost of demolishing a single-family detached residential structure from $15,000 to $20,000. For additional units, it would be $20,000 plus $4,000 for each unit up to five units, and it would increase to $7,500 per unit for units between six and 20.
  3. Maintaining Unit Count (2-4 flats): The commission proposes a new ordinance that would require buildings that were constructed as buildings with two to four units to maintain the same number of units.

The Housing and Community Development Committee has the commission’s presentation listed as a discussion item for its 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting. Four of the nine City Council members serve on the committee. The full council would have to vote on the recommendations before they could be implemented.

Cashless ban

During the commission’s March 16 meeting, the panel also approved the final version of a memo to the Human Services Committee in support of banning cashless businesses in Evanston.

“Statistics shared by the Human Services demonstrate that there is a
disproportional racial impact in terms of who is excluded based on the national unbanked statistics,” said the commission’s memo to the Human Services Committee. “While an estimated 4.5% of the US is unbanked, that number is only 2.5% for the white population but jumps to 16.3% of the Indigenous, 13.8% of the Black, and 12.2% in the Hispanic community. We stand in firm agreement with this ordinance as it attempts to reduce the likelihood that national trends to cashless retail will negatively impact marginalized populations in Evanston.”

The memo says that counting cash “does not present a huge capital cost to operationalize.”

The memo lists recommendations to make changes to the drafted cashless ban ordinance. The commission recommends including medical services in the cashless ban along with more data showing how growing national trends will impact the unbanked, and more clarification of how apps, such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, would be excluded from the ordinance.

Some small businesses have pushed back against the proposed cashless ban. On Jan. 23, the City Council sent the proposed ordinance to the Equity and Empowerment Commission and the Economic Development Committee for further review.

District 65 candidate steps down from panel

The commission announced it has a vacant position. Omar Salem stepped down from his position in the commission to commit to his campaign for the District 65 school board, said committee Chair Karla Thomas.

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Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative reporting....

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