Displacement Pressure

Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago, 2019

December 12, 2019
Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago, 2019

IHS’s Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago project supports ongoing and future public investment decisions by creating a leading indicator to identify neighborhoods where vulnerable populations may be experiencing affordability pressures and displacement risk due to increased housing costs. 

The project’s annually updated interactive mapping tool recognizes the spectrum of displacement—visualizing Chicago neighborhoods that are currently experiencing displacement-related challenges due to high and still rising housing costs as well as neighborhoods where recent market shifts may signal future displacement risk amid speculative investment activity. 

The tool is an important resource for housing and community development practitioners as it guides practical and proactive responses to preserving housing affordability at the neighborhood-level by bringing together the housing market and demographic information needed to evaluate the potential displacement risk in a neighborhood or surrounding a proposed project. This type of information is vital not only to informing conversations about the issue of gentrification and displacement in Chicago, but also to informing the development of market-specific policy interventions to mitigate displacement before it actually occurs.

Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago Interactive Tool

By visualizing the intersection of current market conditions and underlying vulnerability to displacement, the Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago Interactive Tool provides stakeholders with a data-informed starting point for developing neighborhood-level housing policy strategies that preserve affordability.

The mapping tool, updated with the most recent data, allows users to explore areas where 1) house prices recently appreciated at levels above the City average and where 2) a significant share of residents are vulnerable to displacement due to factors such as income, housing cost burden, and renter status. It features the ability to examine market conditions associated with displacement risk surrounding current and planned projects, including The 606, The Paseo Trail, and the Obama Presidential Center as well as the ability to explore:

  • High-cost areas in the City where displacement is likely well underway 
  • Moderate-cost communities where displacement risk could be accelerated with certain projects or initiatives, especially if near transit, other existing amenities, or high-cost real estate markets
  • Lower-cost areas that have seen recent market movement but still require significant investment and long-term strategies to rebuild housing demand before displacement due to rising costs becomes an issue

Each market type has different drivers of demand, different current conditions, and therefore different risks associated with displacement. For high-cost areas, displacement pressure is likely coming from higher-income households and investors targeting these households, while pressure in more affordable areas is likely due to investors seeking value in potentially rising markets. For lower-cost areas, rising prices may indicate a stabilizing market or property speculation, but long-term disinvestment is likely still a central concern and driver of neighborhood change rather than gentrification. 

Because these market types have different demand drivers, conditions, and risks, they also have very different policy interventions to help preserve affordability and mitigate displacement. For example, inclusionary zoning policies are ineffective in some moderate-cost and lower-cost markets, and there is a deficit of both developable and lower-cost land needed to create new affordable housing at scale in high-cost markets. The Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago Interactive Tool features an introduction to a few of these market-specific policy recommendations, which are also summarized in a set of downloadable fact sheets. In 2018, IHS added an expanded tooltip to the interactive map that features key data for each tract on the current conditions that may further inform what type of displacement may be occurring and subsequent policy solutions. These data include:

  • Share of rental units with gross rents that are less than $900 (36.7 percent, City of Chicago)
  • Share of total housing units that are in two to four unit buildings (26.3 percent, City of Chicago)
  • Share of total housing units that are Project Based Section 8 certified (2.2 percent, City of Chicago)
  • Share of total population that is non-white (non-Hispanic) (67.3 percent, City of Chicago)

For fact sheets summarizing trends and policy implications in high-cost, moderate-cost, and lower-cost markets, click here. For more information on the data and methodology behind this analysis, click here.

About the Project

Concerns that existing residents will not benefit from the development of a new neighborhood amenity can quickly follow the announcement of a large-scale public investment project. A new amenity can increase demand for housing from higher-income households or from investors, leading to rising prices and conditions that can make housing unaffordable to current lower- or moderate-income residents.

The impact of a new public investment can vary based on the characteristics of surrounding neighborhoods, however. Local conditions matter, as does the vulnerability of the local population to displacement should house prices increase significantly. For example, IHS research found that the introduction of The 606 linear park system had no effect on house prices in high-income, high-cost, largely owner-occupied neighborhoods along the eastern half of the trail, but led to a substantial increase in prices in the lower-income, more affordable, high-renter neighborhoods surrounding the western half of the trail, likely putting pressure on the residents already struggling to afford housing in their neighborhood.

Beyond these underlying housing market and demographic characteristics, there are other location and environmental factors that may influence displacement risk. For example, neighborhoods near the western half of The 606 have other characteristics such as proximity to transit and higher-value markets that likely amplify its appeal to investors and higher-income households. Conversely, evidence also suggests that neighborhood conditions such as high crime, lack of existing amenities, or isolation from strong real estate markets can discourage private investment and potentially mitigate short-term displacement pressures associated with a public investment like The 606. 

In order to help understand displacement risk in a neighborhood context, IHS updates the Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago tool annually and works with community organizations and stakeholders throughout the year to apply this work to specific initiatives and neighborhoods. Ongoing IHS initiatives build on this analysis to better understand how investment patterns, affordability, and displacement risk are impacted by housing market and socioeconomic conditions like vacant land, housing stock characteristics, proximity to amenities, and crime. IHS is also exploring how a lens of displacement risk can inform other place-based community development strategies around topics such as equitable development, public health, and infrastructure investment. 

About the Analysis

Recently, a growing number of studies have focused on ways to analyze data associated with lost affordability and displacement risk to help policymakers be more proactive in planning for preserving affordable housing and preventing displacement. While these analyses are not predictive, they represent a critical starting point for practitioners and policymakers to assess conditions and needs at the neighborhood level. Building on IHS's work documenting changes to the housing market along The 606, the Institute created the Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago tool to help facilitate proactive and data-informed conversations about displacement risk in the City of Chicago. 

The foundation of the Mapping Displacement Pressure in Chicago tool is a demographic and socioeconomic segmentation analysis of the City of Chicago and a geospatial housing market analysis of current and changing conditions to identify areas where residents are vulnerable to displacement in a rising cost environment and where housing costs are rising. IHS worked with faculty and students from DePaul’s Department of Predictive Analytics to develop a clustering algorithm to identify communities with similar characteristics regardless of physical proximity. The model incorporated over 30 census tract-level data points on housing affordability, housing stock, environmental factors, and resident demographics and socioeconomic indicators associated with displacement risk. These results were intersected with analysis that classified census tracts based on current house prices and recent change in the price of housing in order to identify areas with rising costs where the underlying population is vulnerable to displacement. 

For details on the data collected, project methodology, and a summary of the segmentation and housing market analysis results updated in 2019, click here. For fact sheets summarizing trends and policy implications in high-cost, moderate-cost, and lower-cost markets as of 2019, click here. For more information on the project, or for custom technical assistance inquiries utilizing the tool, contact IHS.

This project was funded with generous support from the Polk Bros Foundation. IHS receives operating support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust. The PNC Bank Foundation also supports IHS's web site upgrades and data tool development. The views in this report are IHS's and do not necessarily reflect those of these funders.

Related work