Updated Thursday 2/23 at 8:51 p.m.
The 52 properties mentioned on a City of Evanston "blacklist" last fall have few or no violations, according to a Thursday press release from the North Shore – Barrington Association of Realtors (NSBAR), a private property advocacy organization.
NSBAR investigated City of Evanston records concerning the list of certain properties near Northwestern’s campus. The list, which was eventually removed from the city's website after publication, provided the addresses and contact information of properties that the city claimed were “open building and/or overcrowding cases under investigation.”
“It was clear from the onset that these were not real violations,” NSBAR Government Affairs Director Howard Handler said. “A lot of property owners were calling for the city to review it, and the city never followed up, so we decided to follow up for them.”
Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz declined to comment on the NSBAR press release.
Landlords and property owners received no prior warning from the city about the list according to a TribLocal. They were outraged over the lack of details of the alleged violations contained in the list, which was attached to a city press release addressing student concern over the three-unrelated ordinance.
According to statements from city officials included in the press release, the purpose of the list was to advise Northwestern students not to enter into leases with properties that had current code enforcement cases. But Handler said records for residences under investigation only exist for properties close to Northwestern University. He filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain similar records for properties throughout the city, but was told the city did not have such information.
“To some degree, not conclusively, this points towards an orchestrated attack against Northwestern students and NU,” Handler said.
Though the properties’ situations “change year to year,” they are generally known by the university as off-campus housing for students, Handler said. The Northwestern Division of Student Affairs website previously posted the list, but took it down Thursday following the release of NSBAR’s findings.
Calls to Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin, Director of Off-Campus Life Tony Kirchmeier and Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl had not been returned at publication time.