By Bill Smith on April 28, 2015 – 9:45am
A proposal to dramatically expand Evanston’s inclusionary housing ordinance drew both fans and foes to the speakers podium at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Leticia Barge, an outreach minister at the First Church of God Christian Life Center, 1524 Simpson St., said housing policies should enhance the diversity of Evanston and that very little new housing has been built on the city’s west side.
The Rev. Debra Bullock, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1509 Ridge Ave., said the proposed changes wouldn’t do enough to promote affordable housing in the city, but would be an improvement over the current law.
Jane Wickencamp, chair of the city’s Commission on Aging, said senior citizens are being priced out of Evanston and that thousands of affordable housing units have been lost in recent years.
Brendan Saunders, of the Highland Park based advocacy group Open Communities, said there is broad community support for inclusionary housing, but that the ordinance should be amended to provide density bonuses for developers who provide affordable housing and to make sure that the affordable units aren’t concentrated in certain neighborhoods.
But Howard Handler of the North Shore Barrington Association of Realtors, said affordable housing ordinances make housing more expensive, not less, by increasing costs for buyers and renters of new units in developments where builders are required to subsidize other units.
And while the ordinance would increase costs for moderate income purchasers and renters, Handler said, it would impose no extra cost on the buyer of a new multi-million dollar single-family home.
Dan Schermerhorn, of the property management firm Schermerhorn & Co., said the provision in the ordinance expanding coverage from developments of 25 or more units to any development of five or more units would have a severe impact on small condo and rental projects.
“Adding $100,000 to $200,000 to the cost of such developments would be catastrophic,” Schermerhorn said, because maintenance costs per unit are higher for smaller developments.
The ordinance would lead to smaller existing properties not being upgraded, he added.