Preserving housing along The 606

Residents living along the route of Chicago’s new recreational trail The 606 (also known as Bloomingdale Trail) are, as predicted, feeling the pressure of gentrification. For low-income families, this could mean a forced exodus further west, away from the city, where rents and property values remain low. 

Mayor Emanuel promised to help preserve affordable housing in the effected neighborhoods but some of his proposed safeguards, such as buildings that provide property-based vouchers, are not infallible. A recent study by HUD shows building owners are more likely to opt out of their Section 8 status if their units can fetch higher rents in the open market. HUD warns against complacency in the report’s conclusion, saying 

Advocates…must be careful not to assume that other properties are immune from opt-out risk.”

Many HUD programs and contracts are set to expire in the upcoming years; these federal incentives cannot be relied upon to preserve housing prices. 

Emanuel needs to implement a real plan, perhaps in conversation with his recently appointed CHA officials, that ensures city-funded interventions in high-risk neighborhoods. 

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