During the summer, Joining Forces and Reclaim Evanston partnered to hold one meeting in each of Evanston's nine wards, asking residents for their input on the need for affordable housing. This article summarizes the feedback we received from community members on what types of solutions they would like to see.
Interestingly, we did not see great differences among the wards' opinions of what solutions would work best. People seemed to be thinking more broadly than their own wards and were looking at what the City as a whole needs. We found this very encouraging.
NOTE: The comments here are those of Evanston residents, gathered during the ward meetings. We have grouped like comments together in categories to try to make this a little easier to digest.
NOTE: In most of the ward meetings, residents brainstormed on what solutions they thought would be most effective. We then asked participants to vote for their top choices. The following lists those items that received multiple votes. Some ideas listed are included at the end under "Additional Ideas."
More Action from the City Council:
Comments indicated that residents would like Council members to push harder for affordable housing, including the following:
Changes to City Code to Promote Affordability:
There is lots of enthusiasm about reviewing the City zoning code and changing portions of it to allow for easier and cheaper development of affordable housing. Suggested changes include:
Continued Strengthening of the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance:
Among those residents who understand the City’s current IHO, there is both acknowledgement that it has been made considerably more effective than it was, along with hope that the following can happen in the future:
Promoting Racial Equity:
Implementing solutions with racial impact in mind was a priority for every group. There were not a lot of ideas on how to make this happen, other than to create processes that are transparent and include input from a full range of racial and socioeconomically diverse residents. However, Joining Forces has had several conversations with residents around the Undesign the Redline exhibit that was on display at the Civic Center. See this article for a write-up of those discussions.
Support for Current Evanstonians:
Attendees shared concerns about how to support residents that are currently struggling. Suggestions included:
Residents expressed support for the idea of doing community education & advocacy to fight NIMBYism.
Support for City-Wide Economic & Housing Development:
Residents agreed that affordable housing should be spread across all wards, and that its development must be supported with parallel economic development.
Some of the specific ideas that residents had for action included the following: