City Council takes aim at gentrification

Newly approved ordinance reduces allowable deconversions to single-family homes near 606 and parts of Pilsen

Chicago /
Jan.January 28, 2021 04:31 PM
Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, at left, supported the measure to limit single-family development near the 606 and parts of Pilsen, while Alderman Raymond Lopez opposed it. (Facebook via Sigcho-Lopez and Lopez respectfully)

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, at left, supported the measure to limit single-family development near the 606 and parts of Pilsen, while Alderman Raymond Lopez opposed it. (Facebook via Sigcho-Lopez and Lopez respectfully)

 

Ever since the 606 opened in 2015, home prices and rents near the trail and in the area have risen sharply. Some elected officials and longtime residents say the trend has led to gentrification, as affordable housing and lower-income tenants were replaced by single-family homes and wealthier residents.

On Wednesday, the City Council approved a measure to impose limits on the kinds of residential development that can rise in areas near the 606 and in portions of Pilsen, Crain’s reported. The ordinance took effect immediately.

The ordinance will reduce the number of allowable single-family homes, which generally replace two-, three- or four-flat buildings. In Pilsen, there were 25 of those so-called deconversions from 2013 to 2018, which eliminated about 75 units, according to the report. In the area of the 606, there were 65 deconversions for a loss of 177 units. The figures were from an estimate by DePaul’s Institute for Housing Studies.

A DePaul study released early last year found that real estate prices increased 344 percent along the western part of the 606. That covered a period of about seven years. The rising prices came despite efforts from northwest Alderman Roberto Maldonado and Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa to slow the pace of gentrification. The two had pushed to freeze development entirely along the trail with a 14-month moratorium. Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposed their effort, questioning the legality of the ordinance. Instead, the City Council approved a ban in January 2020 to halt demolition for six months.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said the Council’s new ordinance will tackle the “huge issue of displacement” that he said developers have helped create, Crain’s reported. Alderman Raymond Lopez opposed the measure, objecting to what he says is a rule that prevents two-flat property owners from exercising their right to convert their property into a single-family home.

[Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman 


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