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Activists Impede Construction At TOD To Protest Displacement In Logan Square

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 19, 2016 6:09PM

Photo: Stephen Gossett

The struggle for affordable housing remains a steep uphill battle in many parts of Chicago, but the fault line might be greatest in Logan Square, where gentrification and a spike in so-called transit-oriented developments have sent rents skyrocketing and displaced longtime residents. To voice their opposition, dozens of activists protested for hours on Saturday morning at an under-construction TOD at N Campbell Ave. and W Armitage Ave., including several who obstructed access points to the construction site.

Rents at the in-progress development, which is being built by Spearhead Properties, are expected to start at $1300 per month for a studio, a rate several protesters said was much too high.

“I grew up here. I’ve been here since the early '90s, but it’s not our community anymore.” Sabrina Morey told Chicagoist. “It has affected me and my and kids very much. They can’t go to school over here now.”

“At least half the units need to be affordable housing, made for people with families—not just studio apartments,” she added.

On Election Day, nearly 74 percent of voters of the First Precinct of the First Ward voted in favor of a Public Question that requires at least half of newly built residential units to be affordable. But the already-in-development property at 2501 W Armitage Ave. only sets aside the required 10 percent of its expected 78 units for affordable housing, which translates to only 7 units. Some developers choose to pay an extra fee to the city rather than build the 10 percent of units, as mandated by the citywide TOD ordinance, but the First Ward has stopped developers in the area from using that sidestep.

Alma Zamudio, of Somos Logan Square, said that residents sent a petition with some 1,200 signatures to Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward) to stop the necessary zoning change. But the request was ignored, so the tenants-advocacy organization—along with Grassroots Illinois Action and Autonomous Tenants Union—coordinated “extreme measures to negotiate” with city officials and/or development crews.

The protest remained peaceful throughout the morning. Police arrived at various points in the protest, but as of late morning, had come and gone without incident.

The Affordable Requirements Ordinance itself is problematic as well, Zamudio said. Rental units “must be affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of Average Median Income,” according to the rule. That figure translates to roughly $42,000 for a family of four, but the average Latino family in the area makes about $34,000, Zamudio said.

Representatives from Spearhead Properties were not immediately available for comment.