Protect Communities, Resist Displacement

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Photo by the Lift the Ban Coalition

Last week, WBEZ reported that, for the first time since 1980, the white population in Logan Square surpassed the Latino population. The area has been gentrifying for years and increasing rents, while affordable for white professionals, have pushed out many Latino families. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon. Chicago has a long and disgraceful history of displacing residents from their neighborhoods. For decades Chicagoans — primarily families, people of color and the poor/working class — have fought against the twin specters of gentrification, which prices them out of their neighborhoods, and institutional disinvestment, which slowly makes their neighborhoods unlivable by dismantling vital necessities like schools and stores.

Thankfully, Chicago also has a long history of organizing around these issues with grassroots, neighborhood groups pushing back so that residents are not pushed out. Over the past few years several groups, including the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Lugenia Burns Hope Center, Northside Action for Justice, and Pilsen Alliance, have joined together to form this week’s featured grantee: Lift the Ban Coalition. Lift the Ban works across neighborhoods to advocate for economic well-being and stability for families through the repeal of the Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997 (no unit of local government can control the amount of rent charged for private residential or commercial property) and the establishment of rent control for Chicago residents.

The number of families living in rent burdened households (spending more than 30% of income on rent) in Chicago is growing due to rent increases that are outpacing wages. According to Lift the Ban’s website, rent control would allow, “tenants (to) stay in their neighborhood with affordable housing options, contributing to local economies, schools and community preservation, and Chicago’s overall economic well-being.” Lift the Ban has been organizing across the city in favor of rent control and they worked diligently to get a referendum on last November’s ballot to lift the 20 year-old ban. Two-thirds of voters in the wards where the referendum appeared voted “yes” to lifting the ban. While the referendum is non-binding, the results are being used to push legislators to move forward on this important housing-justice issue.

An end-of-the-year gift to Crossroads Fund will enable us to continue supporting coalitions like Lift the Ban who fight to keep Chicago neighborhoods available to and affordable for all. Please consider donating today to keep Crossroads Fund at the forefront in the fight for racial, social and economic justice!