Redlining is back in Chicago. Big time.

Redlining, the practice of making it difficult or even impossible for people in low income neighborhoods to receive  loans, has re-emerged with a vengeance in Chicago. Crain’s Chicago Business had this to say on Monday November 10:

“In Chicago’s downtown and on the North Side, rents are on the rise and banks are lending millions of dollars to finance huge apartment deals. On the city’s South and West Sides, there’s plenty of demand, too. But landlords can barely get a loan.

According to a new report by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University, loans for rental properties in low and moderate-income neighborhoods around Cook County have risen since hitting bottom in 2009, but such debt still is hard to come by. Increasingly, however, the multifamily loan market is dominated by bigger loans targeted to wealthier communities.”

Crain’s doesn’t come out and say it, but this is the same type of racial discrimination that we have seen  before in predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods. If owners of multi-family rental units cannot get loans for upkeep, repairs and improvements, then properties can decay.

So the big banks which crashed the economy in 2008 and robbed people of of their wealth, are now deliberately allowing neighborhood deterioration, knowing that this will depress prices when they are ready to buy up properties and drive out the present residents. That’s ethnic cleansing by financial means. 

Action Now and Albany Park NeighborsChicagoans protest the forclosure of rental apartment buildings

Over the past decades the Chicago’s South and West Sides have been hit hard by:

  • Racial discrimination in housing
  • Racially motivated blockbusting
  • The destruction of public housing
  • Redlining
  • The subprime mortgage crisis
  • The 2008 financial crash
  • An epidemic of foreclosures
  • And now the deliberate disinvestment in the multifamily rental market

We in the 29th Ward on the West Side are all too aware of that history because so many of us have lived it. Up close and personal.

Although aimed at multifamily rental units, you had better believe this latest example of disinvestment will adversely affect the single family homeowners as well. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was supposed to end redlining once and for all. The 1968 Fair Housing Act was supposed to end racial discrimination in housing. But enforcement of both has been problematic to say the least.

So as the red hot real estate market in the largely white downtown and Near North areas turns white hot with spectacular rental prices and property sales, many people in the 29th Ward have trouble paying the rent because of unemployment, low wages and attacks on their pensions. This makes it tough for even decent-minded landlords to keep up with repairs and improvements.

We need a City Council and a Mayor’s Office that is not a rubber stamp for the big banks and wealthy real estate interests. Instead we need them to fight for:

  • Job creation and investment in affordable housing
  • Enforcement of our housing discrimination and redlining laws
  • Fully funded pensions
  • A $15 an hour minimum wage

A small wealthy elite should not be allowed to destabilize and destroy any more Chicago neighborhoods. Instead we need community input on housing policy and more affordable housing.




Photos by Action Now

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Author: Quincy

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