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Raudel Damian

Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

How is Gentrification Affecting

Chicago Communities?

Why I ask this question?

Neighborhoods throughout Chicago are changing. We see communities

transforming from empty lots and old homes into high condos and new apartments.

Many run down neighborhoods have become the spot for young and single men and

women to transform the area and call it home. In wicker park the area is now known for

its thriving young people also refereed to as hipsters and we see coffee shops and art

studios all around. In Pilsen a Predominantly Mexican American neighborhood since the

early 70s seems to be following the same path. Pilsen is a neighborhood located on the

Lower West side of Chicago. In the United states Pilsen is seen as the Mecca for

Mexican American immigrants (apart from East L.A) and now the community is

changing. The area is now fighting to keep its strong Mexican roots and stop from

becoming Gentrified. A community that is also fighting to not become Gentrified is one

where I grew up in. Logan Square is located in the Northwest side of Chicago and for

years it was home to mostly Latino Families. Many businesses in the area are now

being closed down and the Latino families are being pushed away. So why is change

and Gentrification bad? If the communities are run down and lacking resources and the

change happening is creating jobs and bettering the community then why is
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

Gentrification looked down upon? The reason I ask this question is I want to know how

the communities are affected and if the end result is for the better or worse.

What I knew Before

I personally before did not even know about the word Gentrification or about its

meaning. However, what I did know is that many communities in which I either grew up

in or had visited many times were or are currently going through a major change. I knew

that Pilsen is Mexican American neighborhood where people take pride in their culture.

La fiesta Del Sol is held every year in August which includes carnival rides and great

food and music. This community fair can be seen as a representation of the strong

Mexican roots. My sister and mother also worked in Logan square a little over ten years

ago. I remember the businesses in the area were always filled with buying customers

however I noticed a huge change a few years back. While passing through the

neighborhood along Milwaukee Ave many businesses were closed or no longer there.

The shops were closed down and the community which once thrived died down. I knew

that this was due to people no longer affording to maintain a business however I did not

know that Gentrification was the main cause. I personally before worked on a project

about Gentrification in Pilsen before for another class. In my other project I focused

mostly on how violence has decreased and how the taxes have pushed people out

there community. A huge thing I also focused on was how the culture is being affected.

Pilsen known for its strong Mexican culture has been dying down and it has been

turning into a go to place for young and single individuals. Although this project did help
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

me in knowing the affects about gentrification in Pilsen it also sparked my curiosity into

finding out how other communities in Chicago have been affected.

The Search

Wicker Park is community that had already been Gentrified. In the 1980s the

Neighborhood was fighting gentrification but was not able to stay the same. Real Estate

agents like Louis Prus are responsible for the changing of Wicker Park. Many long time

Residents were offered 5 times the amount of money that their homes were actually

worth, and while some took up on the deal many were not leaving. Luis Gutierrez a now

U.S representative stated before, "Louis Prus is the worst violator of our rights, but he

is not acting alone. We need protection from all the realtors who, like Prus, will stop at

nothing to push current residents out to make way for 'urban pioneers.' (Chicago

Reader) The way these real estate agents would force people out is by making the rent

in the area cost way more than it previously has. By raising the taxes and rent the

residents there no longer have a choice but to move out because they can no longer

afford to live there. Genny Moreno a board member of the Bickerdike Redevelopment

corporation also stated, I am not against business, but when you take from a

community you also have to give something back. (chicago Reader) What he was

saying is that these real estate agents are selfish and are only about making money.

These long time hard working residents are being forced out do to high rents and while

new and nice buildings are being made they are too expensive for middle class families

to live in. Wicker park before was home to families however it is now home to a young
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

community who live either alone or couples who have no kids. These hipsters are

making much more money because many of them have degrees and that is why the

community now is so expensive. Gentrification in Wicker has not stopped yet. Many

local businesses which were still present 3 years ago are no longer there. In an article

by Chicago.curbed it stated, Independent businesses are closing up at a seemingly

record pace as area landlords continue to raise rents on retail spaces. Not only families

are being affected by this but also small business that once flourished. With rents being

raised Wicker park is changing into a place where only high class business and people

can live there. Although gentrification has kicked out many people the neighborhood

seems to be doing better than ever, for the young and rich of course. According to the it stated, Niche, a rankings and reviews site, on Monday rated Chicago

fourth nationally among best cities for millennials and declared Wicker Park is the best

neighborhood in the city for the generation. The income being made, the violence in the

community, and the number of college graduates determined this ranking. This shows

that Gentrification has had its positive effect on the community because it has made it a

wanted place to live for the millennials.

Logan square is a neighborhood that in fact is very close to Wicker park and it

seems it's on its way to become just like its close community. Once a major latino

community with thriving local businesses it has seen a major change in economics and

demographics. In the last 15 years Logan Square has had the most Latino population of

Chicagos 77 communities. This seems to be changing and now the community has
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

seen a decrease in the latino community and in increase in the white residents moving

in. According to, Between 2000 and 2014, about 19,200 Hispanic

residents moved out of Logan Square, a 35.6 percent decrease. Over that same period,

the white population in the neighborhood increased by about 10,340 residents, a 47.6

percent increase.. Gentrification seems to be only affecting the Hispanic and black

community and the people who are benefiting are the White people. The Mega Mall that

stood in Logan square is now demolished and Logan crossing is being built. This new

complex will have apartments, a gym, and a grocery store along with more add ons.

Although we see once more new buildings and complexes being constructed it is not all

bad. The Affordable Requirements ordinance makes real estate agents and developers

to set aside 10% for housing stock for families earning the 60% median income. This

shows that the city is taking a stand for affordable housing. A group that is fighting

gentrification in Logan Square is somos logan. This organization helps people find

affordable housing and also fights for it in their community. With rents increasing many

of the people who lived their are being kicked out. This group also provides help if you

are being evicted and explains your rights so that you fight for what is yours. Along this

they do protests and provide extra help for those who need with phone numbers to call.

The last community that I researched that is also fighting Gentrification is Pilsen.

The neighborhood has been predominantly Mexican American since the early 70s but

is now in a war with Gentrification. It is known for its great food and strong culture but

now coffee shops are popping out in every corner and are going through the same issue
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

that Logan square is. The Tif Tax determines how much the community should be

taxed depending on how much its residents make. In Pilsen families are middle income

and hard working. With the new younger people with college degrees moving they

usually make more money so the taxes are also being raised. This affects the families

because they can no longer afford it. This community has always been a gateway to

immigrants but it can no longer provide that. According to an article by it

stated. Pilsen is still majority Hispanic, but more than 10,300 have left the

neighborhood since 2000, a 26 percent drop. As of 2013, an estimated 28,835 Hispanic

residents were living in Pilsen. This again is a major drop of the hispanic population in

another Chicago community. People are being forced out of their homes with little

options and are being forced to live in usually poorer neighborhoods with higher crime

rates. Although we see the fighting to keep the strong Mexican roots and the long time

hard working residents gentrification has also provided something positive for the

community and the people living there. Pilsen in the last decade has been affected by

violence. With gentrification in the area many of the people causing the violence like

gangbangers have been forced out. According to crime has

decreased over the past 15 years in Pilsen. Property crimes, violent crimes, and quality

of life crimes have decreased by at least 50% in some years. In July 2003 crime was

high in Pilsen with 52 violent crimes, 191 property crimes, and 122 quality of life crimes.

Take the same month but fast forward 13 years and you see a major decrease with 32

violent crimes, 76 property crimes and only 50 quality of life crimes. Gentrification can

have positive effects but many people still fight to keep their communities the same. An
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

organization that fights to keep the community the same is The Resurrection Projection(

TPR). The TRP was founded in 1990 when residents in the area reacted to the

violence, neglect and rising property foreclosure rates in the community. The

Resurrection Projects mission is to "build relationships and challenge individuals to act

on their faith and values by creating community ownership, building community wealth,

and serving as stewards of community assets." Although this community organization

focuses on many problems in the area such as violence and education one of their main

focuses is to have fordable housing in Pilsen for latino families.

The Resurrection Project (TRP) started their affordable housing by acquiring

abandoned lots and creating homes to then sell them to families with low income and

therefore help them. There has been major success in TRP's real estate goals. In 2002,

the Casa Puebla project created 74 low income housing units in Pilsen. In 2009 TRP

then ]created the Casa Morelos housing unit which created 45 units of housing. In 2010

just a year after TRP created Casa Maravilla, a complex of 72 units of affordable


What I learned

Before conducting my research I knew very little about Gentrification. I did not

know the word itself or the meaning. I learned that Gentrification is a problem in not not

just chicago but many major cities across the United States like Boston, New York, and
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

L.A. Although Gentrification might be viewed upon a bad thing the reason behind it is

not. Gentrification simply means renewing and changing but for the most time it's for the

better. Communities that are run down go through changes and create both jobs and

better homes. I also learned that Gentrification is a race issue. The only people being

affected are minorities mostly black and hispanic communities. The reason why

Gentrification is so bad is not mostly because of the change but because the families

who lived their no longer are able to afford the rent. The Tif Taxes make it impossible for

people to stay in their homes and are pushed out and forced to go live somewhere else.

I learned that even though a community like Wicker Park might be already Gentrified

that doesnt mean the existing business won't be affected. Local shops have been

bought out or closed again because of the high rent prices. In neighborhoods like Logan

Square and Pilsen many people are not giving up on their homes and communities.

Organizations like Somos Logan square, The Resurrection project, Pilsen Alliance, and

the Chicago Socialist party are all fighting to preserve their homes and stop the

gentrifying. I concluded that Gentrification is indeed a negative issue but with good

causes. Many local businesses are able to operate and families are pushed out which

weigh out the pros of less violence and more jobs.

What I still want to know

Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

Although I did learn a lot there is a couple of things I do still want to know. I only

did 3 neighborhoods out of the many in Chicago and I would still want to know how

many communities in Chicago are fighting Gentrification now. I also only searched

communities in which gentrification already occurred or is happening and I want to know

which neighborhoods if any have successfully fought and defeated gentrification. I

focused on only Latino communities but I know that the black community is also facing

the same problem so I would want to know what communities are being affected and

what organizations are helping in the fight. The most important thing that I still want to

know and that I am curious about is what or who decides for people to target a specific


Works Cited

Bauer, Kelly. "Logan Square Protesters Block Traffic, Call For End To Gentrification."
DNAinfo Chicago. N.p., 09 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 May 2017.

Biasco, Paul. "Logan Square Hispanics Vanishing As Neighborhood Becomes More

White." DNAinfo Chicago. N.p., 16 May 2016. Web. 21 May 2017

"Crime in Chicago -- Chicago Tribune." Lower West Side -- Crime in Chicagoland -- N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017

Damian, Raudel. "Gentrification in Pilsen;

THE Uprooting OF A Community." Gentrification in Pilsen;
THE Uprooting OF A Community. N.p., April & may 2017. Web. 01 June 2017.

Joravsky, Ben. "New lines in an old battle: the gentrification of Wicker Park."
Chicago Reader. Chicago Reader, 11 May 2017. Web. 14 May 2017
Raudel Damian
Okeefe, Crain-Davis
English IV

LaTrace, AJ. "City Council approves $16M in TIFs for Uptown development."
Curbed Chicago. Curbed Chicago, 22 June 2016. Web. 13 May 2017

LaTrace, AJ. "Logan Square landlord and alderman at odds over evictions." Curbed
Chicago. Curbed Chicago, 04 Jan. 2017. Web. 13 May 2017.

Pilsen's plight: Progress and Gentrification . YouTube, 02 June 2015. Web. 01

June 2017.

TheColumbiaChronicle. YouTube. YouTube, 03 Feb. 2016. Web. 06 May 2017

[. (n.d.). Chicago Gentrification Maps and Data. Retrieved May 01, 2017, from