Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

28° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Aldermen Pass Amended Affordable Housing Ordinance

By Danny YadronThe Daily Northwestern

Evanston’s inclusionary housing ordinance passed again – but this time it can’t be vetoed.

An 8-0 majority approved an amendment to the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance on March 12, with multiple aldermen saying the measure was long overdue. Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) was absent from the meeting.

“We had to have something, so if this (ordinance) is the best we can get, it’s the best we can get,” Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said.

The final ordinance is the result of months of debate and a veto by Mayor Lorraine Morton in January.

“(The vetoed amendment) was a little stronger in its assurance that we would have affordable housing everywhere,” Holmes said.

The difference between the original and the final ordinances lies in the options given to real-estate developers.

The amendment, passed March 12, gives two options to developers of projects with 24 or more housing units.

Developers can either designate 10 percent of the project’s units as on-site affordable housing or contribute $40,000 to the Affordable Housing Tax Fund for each affordable unit not built. For example, in a 100-unit project developers either could build 10 affordable units or contribute up to $400,000 to the fund.

The vetoed version would have required developers to designate at least 3 percent of units in a building as affordable housing. The measure passed with a 5-4 vote but did not meet the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.

“I don’t think (the ordinance) is as positive as the one that was vetoed,” Ald. Ed Moran (6th) said. “Part of our objective in doing this is not just to generate affordable housing but also to work on integrating different economic levels so that people are living in proximity to each other and have an opportunity to integrate their lives together.”

The new version of the ordinance does less to achieve this goal because it costs more to build affordable condos than developers will be required to contribute to the fund, Moran said.

“It is my sincere hope that people will (build units),” he said. “They might be working in some degree to their most fervent economic desires. If they’re community motivated, they may be willing.”

Moran noted that Cyrus Homes, which plans to include on-site affordable housing in Church Street Village, a condominium building to be located in west Evanston, is one such community-motivated company.

But still, aldermen said if developers choose to contribute to the affordable housing fund instead, the money will be helping to create more housing.

“I would like to have had some on-site (units) and we still may be able to,” Ald. Cheryl Wollin (1st) said. “We’ll keep the money, put it into ‘rehabbing’ two to three flats in town and sell them for an affordable price.”

The decision puts an end to the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance’s two-and-a-half-year journey through the corridors of Evanston’s Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.

The ordinance was first presented in November 2004. A version passed in October 2006, but the city’s legal staff declared the ordinance illegal because it didn’t give enough options for developers to meet affordable housing requirements.

The amended ordinance passed in January but was vetoed by Morton, who said she was concerned it would discourage developers from building in Evanston.

Reach Danny Yadron at [email protected].

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Aldermen Pass Amended Affordable Housing Ordinance