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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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City Council unanimously approves South Boulevard affordable housing development

Photo courtesy of PIRHL Developers, LLC
A rendering of the affordable housing development on South Boulevard that City Council approved Monday. Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) said the approval is a win for Evanston renters.

Following several months of deliberation, City Council unanimously approved a 60-unit affordable housing development on South Boulevard at its Oct. 23 meeting. 

As housing costs in the city continue to rise, Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) told The Daily the approval of the development, in the works since 2022, is a victory for renters.

“What makes Evanston is the people,” he said. “I am committed to try to keep Evanstonians here. It’s a tough situation for renters right now.”

The proposed unit mix is 30 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom units. The mix provides more two- and three-bedroom units than typical in a project of this size, in order to provide more rental housing that is adequate for families.

The development will offer rental units costing between 30% and 80% of Evanston’s median household income, according to city planner Cade Sterling. He said there is a need to provide more affordable housing, especially for those who might work in Evanston but are not able to live in the city because of high rents. 

“It’s a nice model for moving forward with similar sites that the city owns,” Sterling said. “Hopefully this is the first of many of these proposals.”

PIRHL Developers LLC, an affordable housing organization, and the Housing Authority of Cook County will develop the mixed-income property, located at 504-514 South Boulevard near the border of the 3rd and 9th Wards.

The project was reviewed by the Illinois Housing Development Authority and approved for use of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which allows state and local agencies “to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation or new construction of rental housing targeted to lower-income households.” The Land Use Commission recommended approval of the project in early September.

Geracaris said that as an Evanston/Skokie School District 65 parent, he knows many friends, colleagues and parents who have moved out of Evanston because of rising living costs. He said it is difficult to find an affordable apartment and stay in that unit for an extended period of time. 

Promoting affordable housing is one of the council’s top priorities, he said. Councilmembers unanimously voted to approve the action as part of the consent agenda ― a cluster of items that pass at each meeting with no discussion ― at the Oct. 23 meeting.

Sterling said the development’s proximity to accessible public transit, including the South Boulevard CTA station, fulfills a significant need. He said housing and transportation are two of the largest costs for most people, and by reducing the costs of both, renters can save more money.

Bonnie Wilson, a real estate agent and Evanston resident, said one of the most difficult parts of her job has been finding affordable rental housing for clients who want to live in Evanston but cannot afford to purchase property. 

“My client tenants will be very happy that they can now afford to live in Evanston and work in Evanston,” she said during public comment at Monday night’s meeting. “This is very much needed.”

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Twitter: @selenakuznikov

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