Residents of Evanston are facing a housing crisis. It is not a crisis that causes sirens to sound or lights to flash. But it is a crisis nonetheless. The reality of the crisis is clear when we reflect on how Evanston has been changing in recent years: that the new housing being built in Evanston is being built for the luxury market; that housing that was once affordable is being torn down and replaced with housing that is unaffordable to the previous resident.
The result of these trends is that Evanston is becoming less diverse – racially and economically – a characteristic of Evanston that we have proudly and loudly voiced to the Chicagoland community. The other result – on a personal level – is that we are losing neighbors and friends we have known for years who have had to move because of rising housing costs and, in some instances, have even become homeless.
If we are to reverse these trends and overcome this crisis, we will need to act decisively. We will need to find additional resources that will make it possible for middle-moderate-and low-income families to continue to live in Evanston. One action we can take now is to get the City Council to significantly increase funds in the Affordable Housing Fund; this can be accomplished by allocating at least half of the increase in revenues that are coming from the new Real Estate Transfer Fund to the Affordable Housing Fund.
The longer-term solution is to develop a robust affordable housing plan. The Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee, created by the Mayor Stephen Hagerty at the end of 2018, is working on such a plan. Reclaim Evanston, with our ally, Joining Forces for Affordable Housing, has organized meetings in each of the wards of Evanston so residents can learn about the housing situation and possible solutions in their ward and the City overall. Residents will also be offered an opportunity to share their own perspectives and views on what should be done to address the housing crisis.
We plan to share these insights with the Steering Committee and with the aldermen in each ward to learn their ideas on the housing crisis and to gain their support for the reallocation of funds from the Real Estate Transfer Tax to the Affordable Housing Fund.
The schedule of ward meetings:
First Ward: 7-8:30 p.m. July 22, Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.
Second Ward: 7-8:30 p.m. July 18, Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave.
Fourth Ward: 6-7:30 p.m. July 29, McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St.
Fifth Ward:6:30-8:30 p.m. July 30, Family Focus, 2010 Dewey Ave.,
Sixth Ward: 7-8:30 p.m. July 29, Curt's Cafe North, 2922 Central St.
Seventh Ward: 7-8:30 p.m. July 18, Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.
Eighth Ward: 7-8:30 p.m. July 17, Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave.
Ninth Ward: 7-8:30 p.m. July 15, Reba Place, 535 Custer Ave.
A meeting in the Third Ward is also being planned for the end of July. More information is available at Reclaim Evanston's Facebook page.
Mr. Zashin submitted this essay on behalf of Reclaim Evanston.