Evanston and Wilmette have both made good progress this year related to affordable housing, and we are proud to believe that Joining Forces had at least some small part to play in these successes.Here is the top 10 list of accomplishments:
- In November, Evanston convened the first quarterly Affordable Housing Working Group meeting, gathering the many organizations that provide and support housing in the community to collaborate with each other.
- Evanston had five special City Council meetings devoted to affordable housing, and one special educational session for Council members and the public.
- After opting out, Wilmette opted back in to increasing its minimum wage along with most of the rest of Cook County--a sure-fire way to increase housing affordability.
- Evanston made it legal for people to rent out their coach houses to non-family members. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) like these are an important source of affordable housing.
- Evanston launched a new Landlord Rehabilitation Assistance Program to help people who own affordable rental units to keep them in good shape.
- Evanston increased its real estate transfer tax and found other sources of revenue that eliminated cuts to the Mental Health Board funding that supports important housing-related programs for highly vulnerable residents.
- Evanston influenced developers of several new residential buildings to include on-site affordable units (instead of paying fees in lieu), resulting in 37 new units of affordable housing that will come online within the next year or two.
- Evanston revised its inclusionary housing ordinance to incentivize inclusion of even more affordable units in new residential developments.
- Wilmette approved development of a new 16-unit affordable apartment building.
- Evanston committed to creating a new Affordable Housing Plan and has appointed an excellent Steering Committee.
And here is what we will be focusing on in 2019:
- Ensuring that Evanston's new affordable housing plan is developed to include the following:
- Housing strategies for people with different income levels and different barriers to stability
- An evaluation of and changes to the Planned Development Process and to Evanston's zoning rules and regulations
- Tangible, countable goals for creating and preserving affordable housing units
- An evaluation and updating process so that the plan is "evergreen" and will continue to address the affordable housing need for years to come
- Bringing the same progress that Evanston has started on affordable housing to surrounding communities, including Wilmette, Skokie, Morton Grove, Lincolnwood, Glenview, and others.
- Increasing advocacy at the County and State levels to:
- Increase State funding for housing and homeless programs
- Create more State and County incentives for municipalities to take steps toward affordability
- Launching a regional YIMBY (Yes, In My Back Yard) campaign to pave the way for changes that support affordability.
In order to accomplish these goals, we will need your help. Stay tuned for new educational sessions, opportunities to provide input, and other ways to get involved!