LiveEvanston housing program lists first properties for sale

Alexandria Johnson

The LiveEvanston housing program will be listing its first 50 single-family residences for sale today in an effort to provide affordable city living.

LiveEvanston, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is a Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2, or NSP2, aimed at rehabilitating communities stricken by the foreclosure crisis. In January 2010, the city received an $18.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to launch the housing initiative.

“The purpose of the grant and program is to mitigate the effects of the foreclosure crisis,” said Jolene Saul, Evanston NSP2 housing development specialist.

The plan targets area 8092, which extends north of Evanston Township High School and west of Green Bay Road. The southern region, area 8102, stretches from Howard Street to Oakton Street.

“We’ve been for the past year and a half acquiring foreclosed homes and abandoned properties in those two census tracks,” Saul said. “The goal is to do approximately 100 units of housing, and half of those will be for sale and half will be for rent.”

Pricing begins at $100,000 for single-family homes and $60,000 for condominiums. Families’ sizes and incomes dictate whether or not they will qualify for special financing. Coldwell Banker agents in downtown Evanston have been tapped to list the properties.

“The primary goal in the name of the grant says it is to stabilize these communities, so we’ll be able to return housing that’s been for the most part taken for a while and not kept up,” Saul said. “We’ll have people looking to stay and remain in the community, occupy those homes and get back on the tax rolls and really just reverse the trends in the community so the property values can stabilize.”

Saul added she receives inquiries and applications for the program daily, with a total of approximately 150 to 200 people indicating their interest in the program thus far. She said she has high expectations for the program, and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said that LiveEvanston will help the city maintain its diversity.

“What we all love about Evanston – what we love more than the lake, the trees, Northwestern University and proximity to Chicago – is diversity,” Tisdahl said. “The NSP2 project will help Evanston to retain our socioeconomic diversity, and that is tremendously important to all of us.”

LiveEvanston is “what Evanston needs” in a time of economic uncertainty, she said.

“NSP2 buys foreclosed homes, rehabs them and does what it says: stabilizes neighborhoods,” Tisdahl said. “NSP2 provides jobs. NSP2 is an example of President Obama’s stimulus working well in Evanston.”

LiveEvanston’s future plans include rolling out homes on a continuous basis throughout the next two years, Saul said.

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