Evanston residents explore affordable housing opportunities at community meeting


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Amy Kaufman, Associate Director of Community Partners for Affordable Housing, speaks to an audience at Evanston Public Library. CPAH, an organization that builds and refurbishes affordable housing units taught Evanston residents how to apply for one of their homes.

Edmund Bannister, Reporter

Local residents learned about the city’s affordable housing opportunities during a meeting Tuesday at Evanston Public Library.

Community Partners for Affordable Housing, a nonprofit that builds and rents units for low- and moderate-income people, taught residents how to apply for affordable homes in Evanston.

CPAH hosted the seminar at EPL in order to highlight current and upcoming openings on some of its properties, said Amy Kaufman, the organization’s associate director. CPAH currently has two units available in Evanston with more opening in the coming year.

While there is a waitlist, Kaufman said spots often become available. She added that CPAH homes are open to people from all backgrounds and situations.

“Sometimes it’s your job, sometimes it’s your change in circumstance, sometimes its medical bills or a child,” Kaufman said. “There are so many reasons why people come to affordable housing and they’re all legitimate.”

Kaufman said CPAH currently manages 85 homes with over 200 total residents. Eligibility is determined based on income, and a person looking to buy a CPAH home would have to earn between 60 percent to 120 percent of average median income, she said.

The median home value in Evanston rose by 5.3 percent last year with prices expected to rise even higher in the future. Kaufman said as prices increase, low and medium-income residents can find it hard to buy a house or pay rent.

Socorro Castro, an Evanston resident of 17 years who lives in affordable housing, attended the meeting to learn how programs like CPAH can expand to help more people.

“You don’t find programs like these in other suburbs,” Castro told The Daily. “I wish I knew why.”

CPAH is based in Highland Park and was founded in 2003 to counteract rapidly rising home prices. The organization expanded its operation to Lake Forest in 2011 and Evanston in 2013, Kaufman said.

Kaufman told The Daily that Evanston residents, for the most part, recognize that affordable housing is necessary to preserve cultural and economical diversity in their communities.

“If you really look around at your friends and your neighbors and your colleagues, there’s a lot of people living in affordable housing,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman said CPAH is unique because it guarantees “permanent affordability” in all its properties. Even if old residents move out, CPAH ensures rents for its units stay consistent, she said. The organization also owns the land that its houses and buildings are located on to shield residents from the pressure of rising prices.

Jill Skwerski, EPL’s community engagement librarian, told The Daily that access to information is vital for community members seeking affordable homes.

“We want to maintain a community that’s vibrant, diverse, safe and culturally attractive,” Skwerski said. “There’s people from all walks of life in this world and everybody needs a house.”

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