Policies for Gentrifying NeighborhoodsWe wrote a while back about the Gentrification Index from the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center at UIC. The index compares socioeconomic change across Chicago’s neighborhoods over the past 40 years. It’s worth checking out.

The supplement to that index, Gentrification & Neighborhood Change: Helpful Tools for Communities, came out earlier this year. This toolkit offers practical steps that neighborhoods can take to slow and prevent gentrification at different stages of the process.

Among them are Community Benefit Agreements (CBO’s), which are legal agreements with developers that can include such provisions as training and employment opportunities for local residents, construction of affordable housing, or funding of other programs or amenities to benefit the community. (Efforts are currently underway to obtain a CBO in conjunction with construction of the Gateway Real Estate Development Project in the Illinois Medical District.)

Here are a few other specific policies outlined in the handbook.

  • Tenant or Non-Profit Developer “Right to Purchase:” This strategy gives local residents or developers the right to buy property before it can be purchased by an outside developer.
  • Inclusionary Zoning: This program requires developers to offer a specified percent of housing in newly developed units at affordable, below-market rates to low-income households.
  • Limited Equity Co-op Housing: Buildings where the residents are all partial owners help keep rent down by eliminating the profit a landlord would earn. Governance is collective, and the value that can be earned when someone moves out and sells stock in the co-op is limited, ensuring the housing remains affordable.
  • Strengthened Rental Protections for Tenants: Rent controls can limit how much, and under what circumstances, landlords can raise rent. Rent reduction programs can reduce a tenant’s rent based on missing or inadequate services.
  • Protections Against Condominium Conversion: Converting apartments into condominiums lets landlords cash in on rising property value, and reduces housing available to low-income households who cannot afford to buy. Reducing conversions to condos can keep housing more affordable.
  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund: These can be established to help create or preserve affordable housing for low-income households.
  • Housing Levies: These property taxes generate money which is then used to support affordable housing in the area. These can be used with specific projects, or used as an ongoing revenue source for an affordable housing trust fund.

Check out the full handbook for more!