LOGAN SQUARE — Elected leaders and community organizers want the state to invest millions in federal funding toward affordable housing in the Logan Square area, while alderpeople try to maintain high fees for developers who tear down homes along The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail.
Members of Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Alds. Daniel La Spata (1st) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), and State Reps. Delia Ramirez and Will Guzzardi hosted a press conference Monday outside of Logan Square Neighborhood Association office at 2840 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Against a backdrop of signs that read “justicia para la comunidad” and “affordable housing is a human right,” community organizers and elected officials called on state leadership to devote nearly $1 billion from the federal American Recovery Plan Act toward affordable housing across the state, including $5 million toward the Here To Stay Land Community Land Trust.
The community land trust creates affordable homes for families and acquired the first home last fall. It was launched more than two years ago by Logan Square Neighborhood Association and other local organizations including LUCHA and the Center for Changing Lives.
Illinois received $8 billion in ARPA funds to recover from the pandemic. Guzzardi said the group’s plan would devote $855 million of that money toward affordable housing.
“Some of these investments involve building new affordable housing, like the amazing development down here at Emmett Street, but a lot of it also involves supporting families like Ricky [Maldonado]’s — the affordable housing that already exists in our community,” Guzzardi said.
Maldonado, a parent mentor at Stowe Elementary in Humboldt Park, has faced tremendous challenges during the pandemic. His parents both lost their jobs at the start of the crisis — his mother as a hotel housekeeper and his father on the manufacturing line at Weber-Stephen.
Maldonado said his mother died of complications from COVID-19 in June 2020, which left his father devastated and struggling to survive financially. The family has owned a three-flat near Stowe Elementary for 30 years.
“Today, at the age of 68, he has the need to work six days a week just to stay afloat, to pay off his mortgage,” Maldonado said, pausing before getting emotional. “My father is not only worried about losing his house, but also losing his tenants he has, the families that need the help.”
Logan Square has lost more than 20,000 Latino residents in recent years, the most of any neighborhood in the city, according to census data. Neighboring communities Humboldt Park, Hermosa and Avondale have also experienced rapid displacement in the face of gentrification, in part due to the construction of The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail. Housing costs have skyrocketed along the running and biking path, researchers have found.
As part of the plan outlined Monday, leaders are also demanding an extension on the demolition surcharge ordinance, which requires developers to pay thousands of dollars in fees if they demolish housing along The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail and in Pilsen. The legislation, which aims to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing, is set to expire in April.
An extension ordinance backed by Ramirez-Rosa and La Spata is being sent to a City Council committee and then to the full council for approval soon, the aldermen said.
Preliminary data and research shows the ordinance has been successful at curbing demolitions along The Bloomingdale Trail, they said. But it’s unclear how the pandemic and its impact on the housing market was factored into research. La Spata said demolitions are down by 90 percent, but didn’t provide further information.
“The research is clear: When you have so much displacement in a neighborhood like Logan Square, you have institutions that fall apart, you have churches that fall apart, you have support networks that help working families survive fall apart,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “And when those families move to a new neighborhood, the times that it takes to rebuild those institutions, the time it takes to rebuild those networks, by that time a child has graduated from school.”
Logan Square and the surrounding neighborhoods need significant financial investment in affordable housing to stop the cycle of displacement, organizers and elected officials said. Members of Logan Square Neighborhood Association are collecting online signatures in support of their plan.
“Too often, people of color have been shut out of home ownership, and this is a time for us to turn that around and say, we can make investments to bring people of color into home ownership and into generational wealth building,” Guzzardi said.
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