Quantifying the Need for Affordable Housing

In a prior posting, Joining Forces attempted to define housing affordability in terms of WHO needs it and WHAT types of solutions are available. At our November 2018 Member Meeting, we started to try to quantify the need, just in Evanston. The following is a summary of what we discussed--updated from some new information we found. We will begin to try to do the same type of analysis on surrounding municipalities.

Note: The following chart assumes an Area Median Income (AMI) of $79,000. AMI is the midpoint within the population--half the people make more and half make less. Data for the chart was taken from the City of Evanston's Affordable Housing White Paper presented to City Council on October 30, 2017.

Need By Income
(HH = Household)
HH Income Level# of Home Owners
# of RentersRenters Plus Home-Owners% of Evanston HHs# of HHs Paying 30% -  50% of Their Income on Housing# of HHs Paying >50% of Their Income on Housing# of Housing-Cost-Burdened HHs% of Housing-Cost-Burdened HHs
100% of AMI or more ($79,000+)11,6953,66015,35553%250803301%
80% to 100% of AMI ($63,200 - $79,000)1,2601,3102,5709%2551203751%
50% to 80% of AMI ($39,500 - $63,200)1,3552,6754,03014%1,5003451,8456%
Less than 50% of AMI ($39,500 or less)1,7205,2756,99524%1,0654,6555,72020%

* Housing-cost burden is when a household is paying more than 30% of its income on housing.

Primary Take-Away
The points that strike us most in the above chart are the following:
  • 28% of Evanston's population is paying more than 30% of their income on housing--the vast majority of those households being very low-income (30% to 50% of the AMI) and extremely low-income (under 30% of the AMI).
  • Anyone who earns less than 100% of the AMI can have a difficult time finding an affordable place to live in Evanston, the burden is falling much harder on those with lower incomes.
  • Accordingly, housing solutions that are focused on households at 100% and 80% of the AMI do not appear to be meeting the real need.
  • We need more housing that is affordable for households who are earning less than $40,000 a year.
Other Numbers That Define the Need
In addition to income levels, we need to look at the prevalence of circumstances and conditions that suppress incomes or otherwise create barriers to stable housing. The following chart summarizes the information we could find on the numbers of people affected by such barriers, and we have provided some explanations of those numbers as well.

Groups That Experience Extra Barriers to Income and HousingNumber of People Affected in Evanston
People with DisabilitiesBetween 3,663 and 8,970
Senior Citizens7,789
Families with Children Under 18 Years7,727
Young Adults between 18 and 24 Years12,843
People with Arrest and/or Criminal Records1/3 of the adult population, or approx. 20,000 people
People with Poor Credit1/3 of the adult population, or approx. 20,000 people
People with a Record of EvictionUnknown

People with Disabilities
This group includes people with disabilities who generally do not earn enough through employment or receive enough through disability benefits to afford their own housing without financial assistance. We have developed the following range of estimates on the size of this group based on data from a local agency that works with people with disaiblities:
  • According to Evanston census numbers, 4.9% of the population, or 3,663 people have disabilities.
  • However, across the nation, approximately 12% of the population has disabilities, If we count 12% of Evanston's population, that would be 8,970.
Senior Citizens
This includes people over 62. Senior citizens often have reduced incomes, are looking to downsize, may need space for caregivers, and may need special accommodations related to accessibility.

0% - 30% AMI30% - 50% AMI50% - 80% AMI80% - 100% AMIOver 100% AMITotal
Income Range$0 - $23,700$23,700 - $39,500$39,500 - $63,200$63,200 - $79,000$79,000+
HHs with at least one person 62 – 74 years old4353355253153,0054,615
HHs with at least one person 75 years old or older4693906403501,3253,174

Source: City of Evanston Consolidated Plan, p. 30

Families with Children Under 18 Years
This group includes families with children. This group is included separately because they need units with more bedrooms than are needed by individuals or couples, and such units are in particularly short supply at affordable rates. Additionally, there is a trend for some landlords to be reluctant to rent to families with children due to concerns about noise and damage to property.

According to, Evanston has approximately 7,727 households with children (about 27% of households).

Young Adults Between 18 and 24 Years Old
This group includes youth who are independent but may not yet be self-sufficient, generally counted as people between 18 and 24 years of age.

According to DataUSA (, Evanston has approximately 12,543 people aged 18 to 24 years.

People with Arrest and/or Criminal Records
“Between 70 million and 100 million—or as many as one in three Americans—have some type of criminal record…. Communities of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals; and people with histories of abuse or mental illness are disproportionately affected.” (Source: “Americans with Criminal Records,” The Sentencing Project),

If the total adult population in Evanston (over age 18) is 60,396, then 1/3 of the population is 20,132.

People with Poor Credit
According to articles online, about 1/3 of adults have credit that makes it difficult for them to get loans, and probably to get housing as well. Younger people and poorer people have a greater problem with credit, in general. Other than low incomes, poor credit is probably the biggest obstacle that clients of Connections for Homeless face when they are looking for apartments.

According to Transunion, the percentages of people at different age ranges with poor credit nationally are as follows:

GenerationAge range% Subprime (# with poor credit)
Generation X37-5133%
Baby boom52-7020%
Silent generation70+9%

Using the analysis above and applying it to Evanston (using demographic and age-related data from DataUSA), here are the approximate numbers:

GenerationAge range# of People in Evanston% Subprime (# with poor credit)# of People with Poor Credit
Generation X37-5116,30533%5,381
Baby boom52-7014,31620%2,863
Silent generation70+4,6299%417

Note: The sources we used for data on poor credit do not split up the age categories the same way—so this comparison shows a general trend—not accurate numbers!

People with Records of Eviction
According to Eviction Lab, Evanston has .18 evictions a day, had 68 evictions in 2016, and has .43 evictions for every 100 homes.

However, we do not have a number yet for how many people in Evanston have past evictions on their records that are making it difficult for them to attain housing. If anyone knows of a source for this data, please email We will continue research on this topic, knowing that eviction data is a new area of study.