CBA Record February-March 2019

YLS Special Issue– Diversity of Opportunity

A lthough policymakers and community organizations frequently discuss ideas to increase housing affordability– and mayoral and aldermanic candidates periodically present proposals to avoid displacement–actual policy solutions that address systemic causes have yet to emerge. As a result of Chicago’s long history of racial and economic segregation, people of color disproportionately bear the burden of the housing crisis. Families displaced from their homes are predominantly from communities of color and have only a limited number of tools to prevent such displacement. How can we design solutions that address the housing crisis and support these communities? As part of our mission to fight for racial equity and economic oppor- tunity for all, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights works with communities, residents, and organizations to advocate for more equitable housing policies, practices, and development. Through litigation, community lawyering, and education, we support the work of our community part- ners in fighting displacement and building systems that push for equity. Inequity in Housing and Development Since 2010, Chicago’s population has declined, and its housing stock has trended toward larger, more expensive high-rise buildings and fewer two-to-four-unit buildings. It is increasingly difficult for lower- and middle-income families to remain in the city. As the DePaul Institute for Housing Studies (www.housingstudies. org) reported in its State of Rental Hous- ing in Cook County report, as of 2016 the share of rental units in two-to-four-unit buildings “remain[ed] significantly below historic levels,” and the “affordability gap” between affordable rental demand and supply remained higher than before the Great Recession. In preparing data for the city’s upcoming Five-Year Housing Plan for 2019-2023, the Institute also found that Chicago had fewer homes in 2016 than

of the Plan for Transformation had a more devastating and longer-lasting impact on some communities than others. Both the private and public sectors con- tributed to Chicago’s segregated landscape. Little has been done to correct the harm caused by these practices. When Chicago’s educational metrics, health indicators, and violent crime statistics are mapped, the areas with the biggest challenges are the same as those that have been most afflicted by racial and ethnic segregation. And even today, we still face clear resistance to address these consequences. Recurring and systemic inequalities, including the affordability gap and the stresses of displacement, are reinforced by the structures and institutions of systemic racism. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee focuses on these issues with a variety of tools. By working with pro bono attorneys and community partners, we use litigation, negotiation, community lawyering, and transactional legal work to promote equity throughout the city. Chicago Lawyers’ Committee works in partnership with community organiza- tions to help prevent displacement and encourage equitable development. We work directly as legal counsel to organiza- tions seeking to influence development and land use in a way that protects com- munities against displacement and creates economically and environmentally just development. Chicago’s policies regarding land use, zoning, affordable housing, and public financing for private development do not fully consider the potential burden created by development and, as a result, reinforce structural systems of inequity that have created the city’s map as we know it today. A clear example of this issue is the city’s zoning process. Chicago has many more wards and city council members, or alder- men (50), than other major U.S. cities (e.g., 15 in Los Angeles, 16 in Houston), Equitable Development and Community Tools

it did in 2010 and the city’s population of Black residents continued to decline, a trend that continued followed the exodus of more than 180,000 Black residents from 2000 to 2010. The Institute posted a full recap of the change in income demographics of all of Chicago’s neighborhoods in a blog post titled “Understanding Household Informa- tion Shifts in Chicago Neighborhoods.” In addition to the affordability gap, residents in Chicago are feeling the pres- sure of displacement, forcing individuals, families, and businesses to relocate from their homes or storefronts in a manner that is disruptive not just to those individu- als affected, but to communities as well. Seattle’s Office of Planning &Community Development defines three different types of displacement in its 2016 report Seattle 2035, Growth and Equity as: Physical displacement is the result of eviction, acquisition, rehabilita- tion, or demolition of property or the expiration of covenants on rent- or income-restricted hous- ing. Economic displacement occurs when residents and businesses can no longer afford escalating rents or property taxes. Cultural displace- ment occurs when people choose to move because their neighbors and culturally related businesses have left the area. Each type of displacement has clear examples in Chicago in recent years. The policies and current demographic changes in Chicago are not the result of any one decision, but rather reflect a series of decisions over time. Chicago’s segregation history is well documented, from redlining by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation in the 1930s to the construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the 1960s and the decades of racially discriminatory siting of public housing by the Chicago Housing Authority in the latter half of the twentieth century. More recently, the subprime mortgage crisis and the aftermath


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