efforts to create affordable housing gain ground in Logan Square, Pilsen | Latin Voice | Chicago News
The city is short by about 120,000 affordable homes, according to figures from the Chicago Department of Housing.
And that shortage is an even bigger problem in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Logan Square and Pilsen, where new luxury developments are making longtime families pay.
But despite this, the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Apartments opened in May near the Logan Square Blue Line station. The seven-story complex, which includes retail space and 100 affordable units, took eight years to go from planning to completion, a timeframe that Joy Aruguete of Bickerdike Redevelopment Society said is fairly typical of large-scale affordable housing projects.
“It takes a bit of time to build an affordable housing project and it’s usually because there are so many levels of funding that we have to put together to make it affordable,” Aruguete said. “A hundred units makes perfect sense at the Logan Square Blue Line station, as it is an equitable transit-oriented development. It’s a location that supports height and density and it’s right on Kedzie Avenue along the commercial corridor and just off Milwaukee Avenue and it’s quite a busy neighborhood.
Those 100 units were badly needed in Logan Square, said Palenque LSNA Director of Housing Christian Diaz.
“Logan Square has long suffered from the effects of displacement. And that displacement has only been exacerbated by the health crisis we have been going through with COVID-19,” Diaz said. “And despite the economic downturn from COVID-19, rents have only gone up and there is more competition for housing in our neighborhood.”
Diaz said for Latinx families, who tend to be larger and need more bedrooms, finding affordable rentals is especially difficult.
“It’s really hard for families, especially families with kids in school, when their rents go up overnight by $500 to $600. And when looking for new apartments to move into, it’s impossible to find anything under $1,500, $1,600, and the units we find are often one bedroom or studio apartments that aren’t suitable for the average Latinx family,” Diaz said. “So what’s really special about the Lucy Gonzales Parsons Apartments… is that they are family units. So not only are they affordable, but they can actually fit the average Latinx family and it’s a monument to racial equity in a new direction that our community is taking. We are therefore very proud of the accomplishment.
Further south, the Pilsen Housing Cooperative offers a community-run affordable housing model with a workable way for families to stay in the area despite the gentrification happening around them. PIHCO, which a group of longtime Pilsen residents formed in 2020, has been the subject of a Firsthand WTTW: Segregation episode.
“We’ve been working on PIHCO since 2016 as residents of the neighborhood, people who lived next to each other and I think we were really looking for a sort of personal action-based way that we could say no to the displacement that was happening. was happening in Pilsen, is happening and has been planned for a very long time,” said Amanda Cortes of PIHCO. “We have accumulated so many resources over many decades in Pilsen and I feel like when people are displaced it kind of disappears and so that was our motivation to form the Pilsen Housing Cooperative. “
Aruguete said communities themselves can sometimes present a challenge to building affordable housing.
“People have misconceptions about low and middle income people, they don’t realize that sometimes it’s them, or their neighbors, or the people they see every day. They are not strangers,” Aruguete said.
She also said funding for larger units can be harder to come by.
“We’re building married quarters and…that means it’s going to cost a little more because you have more square footage in the rooms…and you get a lot of pushback from your lenders who are used to fund smaller developments,” she said. . “But it’s worth every moment we spend and the years it takes to put in place this kind of development when you see these families moving in…a place they can count on to raise their children and live in the community they live in. have called home for so many years.
Yet to really address the long-term scarcity requires a change in mindset about land ownership, Diaz said.
“The dominant housing and housing market model is one that emphasizes the use of land as an investment, something that should be used to generate wealth,” Diaz said. “And I think we need to change that mainstream narrative to one where we see land as a benefit to people whose primary purpose is to house us and provide stability to our communities.”
Cortes said Diaz’s perspective is exactly the philosophy that PIHCO has embraced.
“I think that’s something we definitely do at Pilsen Housing Co-op,” she said.