ASG’s off-campus senators hosted an informal forum-style event Thursday night for students looking for advice about their housing options.
The senators casually talked with students, who trickled in and out with questions. Present at the event were Off-Campus Senator Brandon McNamara, ASG Community Relations Vice President Steven Monacelli, Off-Campus Caucus Whip Ani Ajith, Off-Campus Senator Justin Nam and New Director of Off-Campus Student Life Tony Kirchmeier.
Kirchmeier offered advice on relations between tenants and landlords. He cited the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs as one of the "resources that are available for you" when dealing with an unfair off-campus housing situation; one of the Interfaith Housing Center’s main functions is to mediate conflicts between landlords and tenants. For example, If there are extra, unfair stipulations in a lease, students need to be "able to walk away from it," Kirchmeier said.
Another topic discussed during the forum was Evanston’s controversial three-unrelated ordinance.
“The reasons given for [the ordinance] are conflicting,” Ajith said. “The official reason is that it’s a matter of safety, and quality of life. But [Mayor Elizabeth] Tisdahl has said the absence of parents or an authority figure has been an impetus for officials to keep a three-student limit.”
He went on to say that students are being taken advantage of and are paying inflated prices for substandard housing. When restrictions force the housing supply lower, demand goes up and causes price and space issues.
“Students are not a protected class, so we can’t argue discrimination,” said Monacelli. “Students living illegally feel uncomfortable reaching out to landlords for basic services ... but knowing your rights [as a tenant] is the most important thing.”
Full disclosure: Ani Ajith and Steven Monacelli have both written for North by Northwestern. Monacelli is currently involved with the organization as assistant politics editor.