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Could Rent Control Slow Gentrification In Pilsen? Learn More At Forum

By Ariel Cheung | August 22, 2017 8:54am
 The Casa Aztlan mural, created in the 1970s by artist Ray Patlan, was painted over by a developer in Pilsen.
The Casa Aztlan mural, created in the 1970s by artist Ray Patlan, was painted over by a developer in Pilsen.
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Pilsen Alliance

PILSEN — Those fearing rising rents in Pilsen will have an opportunity to hear one plan to slow the spread of gentrification and stabilize rent at a meeting in early September.

Pilsen Alliance will host the housing forum from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 7 at Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton St. Joining the group will be state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Logan Square), who introduced a bill in Springfield earlier this year that would repeal a 1997 ban on rent control passed under Republican Gov. Jim Edgar.

The free event will feature discussions with professor Janet Smith, who studies neighborhood change and urban geographer Winifred Curran and state Rep. Theresa Mah (D-McKinley Park).

Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and representatives from the Lawyer Committee for Better Housing and Metropolitan Tenants Organization will be available to provide assistance and resources for people facing evictions or having trouble dealing with landlords or developers.

Tenants facing eviction and homeowners feeling the pressure to sell in Pilsen might benefit from hearing the argument for Guzzardi's bill, organizers said.

The state representative said the ban on rent control was born of a misconception pushed by real estate lobbyists in the '90s, but the possibility of stabilization could help longtime residents of neighborhoods like Pilsen and Logan Square remain in their homes and slow quickly rising rents.

RELATED: Chicago Should Have Rent Control, State Lawmaker Says

The repeal would not create rent control in Chicago or other cities, but would allow the City Council to take action to stabilize rents.

Since 2000, single-family home prices in West Town and the Near West Side have risen nearly 160 percent, climbing 13 percent since 2015 alone, according to a recent DePaul University study.

Meanwhile, the median rent for a one-bedroom home in Pilsen has risen 35 percent since last summer, from $1,000 to $1,350, according to Zumper data. Historically Latino neighborhoods are seeing drastic drops in their makeup over the last two decades.

At least 10,000 Hispanic residents have left Pilsen since 2000, according to a 2016 UIC study. 

Pilsen Alliance aims to curb evictions while keeping the housing stock in the neighborhood affordable. For years, The grassroots organization has worked to stop the displacement of low-income families and people of color from their longtime homes.

Child care will be provided at the Sept. 7 event, which is also accessible to people with disabilities. For more information, call Pilsen Alliance housing organizer Moises Moreno at 312-243-5440.

Contributing: Sam Cholke