IHS Helps Shape Key Chicago Housing Plan

Author: Kassie Scott
Date Posted: July 24, 2019

In 2019, the City of Chicago embarked on a new Five-Year Housing Plan that aims to promote growth through equitable neighborhood development. Developed by the city’s Department of Planning and Development, the plan was informed by a partnership with the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) at DePaul University. 
In earlier analyses, IHS created a housing market typology for Chicago neighborhoods that assessed overall market health and provided context for developing appropriate interventions. The city adopted IHS’s housing market typology as a frame for the plan and used it to tailor strategies to better meet the needs of different communities. The plan sets affordable housing goals, and the city must report its progress to the city council each quarter.
As part of the development of the housing plan, IHS developed and shared data on demographic and economic trends, affordable rental housing and displacement pressure, and homeownership and investment in the city as a whole and by neighborhood market typology. IHS also presented at three advisory group meetings where more than 120 stakeholders convened to discuss housing challenges and solutions. 
IHS’s market typology divides the city into high-cost, moderate-cost, and lower-cost neighborhoods, which differ on demographic and economic trends. Lower-cost neighborhoods experienced population declines from 2006 to 2010, while high-cost neighborhoods experienced population growth. Unemployment and poverty rates rose in lower- and moderate-cost neighborhoods and fell in high-cost neighborhoods.
IHS also showed that neighborhoods with lower- and moderate-cost housing markets were losing housing units, particularly in two-to-four-unit buildings. Sales prices per unit for multifamily buildings increased faster in lower- and moderate-cost neighborhoods and accelerated after 2015. As Kara Breems, a project manager in the Department of Planning and Development, said, “These data were key to both confirming our working assumptions and also shedding new light on what people were actually experiencing.” 
The city responded to these data by including neighborhood-based housing investment strategies in the Five-Year Housing Plan. For example, the city proposed to use vacant land to build affordable units in all neighborhoods, especially in lower-cost neighborhoods. Considering unemployment and poverty rates are high in these neighborhoods, the city also wants to connect affordable housing construction to economic and workforce development. In moderate-cost markets facing gentrification, the city plans to identify new ways to protect against displacement and preserve and build new affordable housing. Initiatives such as the Preservation of Existing Affordable Rental program and the Affordable Requirements Ordinance protect the number of affordable housing units in these communities. 
The Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University is the Chicago partner in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a network of local data intermediaries in more than 30 cities, coordinated by the Urban Institute. All of them, like the Institute for Housing Studies, are navigators to help their communities use data to inform decisions and advance equity.

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