State awards grant to revamp Evanston affordable housing on Brummel Street

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Nearly half a million in state funds has been allocated to an affordable housing project in Evanston as plans for more ramp up.

The 743 Brummel Street apartment building on the southern end of Evanston will receive $474,996 from the Illinois Housing Development Authority through its Limited Rehabilitation Preservation Program. Funds from the program, which began in Jan. 2022, are given to existing affordable housing properties for repairs needed to continue operation.

Apartments at 743 Brummel St. in Evanston. (Alex Hulvalchick / Chicago Tribune)

Approximately $12 million was made available to 27 developments across the state with a majority going to housing in Cook County.

The Evanston building has been owned and operated since 1998 by Housing Opportunity Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1983 by North Shore Interfaith Housing Council and the North Suburban Housing Center to preserve and increase affordable housing in Chicago’s northern suburbs.

Funds will be used to make minor repairs around the property including a new roof — repairs that wouldn’t be possible otherwise according to Executive Director of Housing Opportunity Development Corporation Richard Koenig.

“If we didn’t get the money, we’d have to shut it down,” said Koenig. “How else do you do those kind of repairs? It’s really hard.”

The building has 13 apartments with enough space for families and run around $600 to $700 a month for a one bedroom and $800 for two.

According to Koenig, open space is rare with a quick turnover rate, exemplifying the need for more affordable housing in Evanston.

“It’s something that we’ve kept affordable for a really long time. We want to make it another 24 years,” Koenig said.

In response to the need, plans are in motion to build two new affordable housing buildings on the 1800 block of Church Street, just around the corner from Evanston Township High School. The buildings would offer homes for 44 families with a mix of one, two and three bedroom options and cost about $20 million to complete.

The space was previously owned by the city and was contaminated by a gas station on the property, according to Koenig. The nonprofit previously tried starting the project at this location in 2005 but nothing came to fruition.

The 1800 block of Church Street where plans for a 44 unit affordable housing building are set. (Alex Hulvalchick / Chicago Tribune)

The lot has remained vacant for over four decades but the group hopes to begin construction by spring 2023 with financing help from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Another project completed by the nonprofit was the 16-unit complex at the old American Legion site in Wilmette. Koenig said that project caused a stir among residents at the time, but he believes it is now welcomed by the community.

Koenig said residents seem excited about the new Evanston housing and much has changed in the 17 years since the first attempt at building.

“We have developed over 500 units in Chicago’s northern suburbs creating affordable housing in a very, very unaffordable area,” said Koenig. “Every project is its own reward just trying to create those opportunities to give working families a place to live in the suburbs.”

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August 9, 2022 at 06:09PM

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