Campaign raises $10K for Evanston family facing eviction

Stephanie Kelly, City Editor

A woman has raised more than $10,000 through an online campaign for an Evanston family facing eviction in the near future.

Joanna Broder has raised money for the Watson family via the website FundRazr. The Watsons were expected to be evicted Monday, but inclement weather conditions forced Cook County to delay all evictions Monday and possibly for the rest of the week, according to the fundraiser’s Facebook page.

The Watson family includes wife Laurel, her husband — who wishes to remain anonymous — and their son Paul, 7.

Broder said she is good friends with the Watsons and her son attended school with Paul Watson. The family has always lived in poverty, she said.

“I’ve watched them struggling for a couple of years. It’s been a battle with their foreclosure,” Broder said. “A lot of people care, and I think that’s why this campaign has been successful so far because so many people care, but people don’t quite know what to do.”

The Watsons have received services from organizations such as The ARK, a Chicago-area organization that provided them with legal assistance to delay their foreclosure.

The Watsons are currently looking for an apartment, but Broder said they are concerned with their credit because of the foreclosure and are struggling to find a place to move once they are officially evicted. The campaign is meant as a way to buy them as much time as possible and to help them put money down on a new apartment, she said. It will also provide financial security when the husband’s job contract ends in March, Broder said.

Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) is a member of the Housing and Homelessness Commission, which meets each month.

Other issues the commission handles include recommending groups for federal grants and partnering with local organizations, such as Community Partners for Affordable Housing, which Tendam called a successful pairing.

The commission has recently been focusing more on Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and District 202 school students, Tendam said. Recent city initiatives such as Cradle to Career aim to support Evanston children throughout their lives.

Despite the commission’s efforts, Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said the city can do more to fight homelessness. Holmes cited the Evanston Township High School class in which students built a house in the city, as a different way to create affordable housing.

“That’s at least something creative and innovative,” Holmes said. “There are all kinds of ways that we can look at and try to make sure there is affordability throughout the community.”

As for the Watson family, Broder said she still does not know what will happen to them.

“I feel like I’ve been asked that question of, ‘What are they going to use the money for?’ and they’re going to use it to get an apartment, but there are a lot of unknowns,” Broder said. “We don’t know if a landlord is going to allow them to get an apartment even if they prepay a year.”

But the campaign is really about Paul, she said.

“It’s about him having a shot at having a stable, comfortable, nourishing childhood,” Broder said. “They are trying and fighting for him.”

Correction: A previous version of the story misstated when Laurel Watson’s husband’s job contract ends. It will end in March. The Daily regrets the error.

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