Yesterday, the City of Evanston announced its selection to a nationally-funded initiative for small and midsize cities to develop innovative, equitable local housing solutions. The Housing Solutions Lab Peer Cities Network will advance evidence-based solutions that address pressing housing challenges, with a specific focus on racial and health equity.
Led by an interdisciplinary team from the New York University Furman Center with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Network will support City leaders as they design policy to tackle issues including housing insecurity and homelessness, affordable housing production and preservation, and fair housing and neighborhood investment. While large coastal cities often receive the majority of policy attention for their housing challenges, the Peer Cities Network is exclusively for cities with fewer than 500,000 residents.
“I am tremendously grateful to the Housing Solutions Lab for providing their support and expertise as we work to address Evanston’s most pressing housing challenges,” said Mayor Daniel Biss. “This invaluable partnership will help City and community partners develop innovative, evidence-based housing policies and goals to advance health and equity in Evanston.”
Members of Evanston’s housing team include Mayor Daniel Biss, 7th Ward Councilmember Eleanor Revelle, Housing Authority of Cook County Executive Director Richard Monocchio, Community Partners for Affordable Housing President Rob Anthony, and City of Evanston Housing and Grants Manager Sarah Flax. With support from the Housing Solutions Lab, Evanston’s team will work to develop strategies to meet the city’s housing needs, including expanding homeownership to first-time homebuyers and low-income families, increasing and integrating affordable housing throughout the city, and developing local revenue sources to support housing goals.
Evanston was selected to participate in the second cohort of cities, which also includes Cedar Rapids, IA; Des Moines, IA; Missoula, MT; Pasco, WA; Pawtucket/Central Falls, RI; Portland, ME; Rochester, NY; and San Marcos, TX.
"Our goal is to meet cities where they’re at— and offer a range of supports that can be customized to meet their unique housing needs," said Martha Galvez, Executive Director of the Housing Solutions Lab. “In joining the Peer Cities Network, Evanston’s leaders will gain access to a national community of experts, practitioners, and researchers to help them plan and launch strategies that leverage housing to expand opportunity.”
The Housing Solutions Lab provides the following services to cities:
· Peer networking and support: Network participants will join a national community of peers in small and midsize cities, and an ongoing forum for shared learning, support, and policy innovation.
· Timely policy resources: Participants will receive timely, actionable policy updates and access to case studies, research, and other resources to inform small and midsize city leaders’ housing-related efforts.
· Local housing data: Participants will have access to data describing local housing conditions, trends, and challenges.
· Technical assistance and research support: Participants will have access to technical assistance and research expertise to help design, implement, and evaluate local housing policy strategies and solutions.
Through access to the expertise of leading practitioners and researchers, Evanston will be an active participant in the conversation about what housing policies work, how to effectively implement them, ways to make cross-sector connections, and strategies to center resident voice and priorities in advancing equitable housing policies.