Activists on Monday, August 6, submitted over 5,000 signatures to place in support of a referendum that would ask voters to lift the ban on rent control in the Logan Square, Rogers Park and Uptown neighborhoods which face rapidly increasing rents that are forcing families and longtime residents out of their apartments. Activists say the petitions, from the 46th Ward, the 49th Ward, and the 35th Ward, are an important step in addressing concerns of rising rents and preserving affordable housing for all, across Illinois.
Activists say from 2000 to 2010, there has been a decrease in population in these wards due to the increased cost to live there. This decrease in population has disproportionately impacted Black, Latino, and Asian families in Uptown and Rogers Park from 2000 to 2014.
Tommie Lewis, a leader with ONE Northside, found a home in the 46th Ward and is struggling to stay in the neighborhood, “In 2014, I became homeless after struggling with medical debt. I finally found a place but I pay nearly half of my income for rent. The housing situation in Chicago is unaffordable, and wages cannot keep up.”
“Having rent control is especially important for a neighborhood like Rogers Park that thrives on it’s diversity, and yet is also under threat from big developers,” said Carol Edelson, longtime 49th ward resident and a member of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus. “We need a policy like rent control in this neighborhood because rising rents have meant many low income people, especially seniors, have been priced out and displaced.”
The Lift the Ban coalition is comprised of 30 grassroots organizing groups, and has started a movement around the need to lift the 21-year-old ban on rent control in Illinois and implement statewide rent regulation. In the March primaries, the same coalition held a similar ballot initiative in the south, southwest, and northwest sides of the city, where the ballot measure won by an overwhelming 75% of people who voted to lift the ban on rent control. Local community organizing groups ONE Northside, Northside Action for Justice, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, and United Neighbors of the 35th Ward worked to continue the ballot initiatives on the north and northeast sides of Chicago.
While the Lift the Ban Coalition is working to make rent control a reality across the state, this issue is especially critical in these wards on the north side of Chicago. Activists say over half of Cook County residents are paying more in rent than they can afford, and residents of the north side of Chicago, are experiencing deep gentrification and extremely high market rents.