Englewood residents urge city leaders to fix affordable housing crisis

CHICAGO- Over 100 Englewood residents demanded solutions to the neighborhood affordable housing crisis at the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, or R.A.G.E., meeting on Tuesday night.

Community members congregated at the Barbara A. Sizemore Academy for a legislative panel with Illinois state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago.

Dr. Marcus Robinson, 59, has been a R.A.G.E. member for two years and he communicated that high housing prices are one of Englewood’s multifaceted issues.

“We have a majority of renters versus a majority of owners. Given that there was a flip, it would be a beautiful thing,” Robinson said.

In April 2018, the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University reported a large affordability gap in the Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods where the demand of affordable housing exceeded the supply by 7,511 units.

The affordability gap is one of many reasons why African Americans are moving out of Chicago. The United States Census Bureau reported a loss of nearly 68,500 African Americans in the city of Chicago between 2010 and 2016.

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Englewood community members wrote down their opinions on how to attract more residents to the neighborhood.

R.A.G.E. President Asiaha Butler, 42, asked residents for suggestions about what housing incentives might encourage to move back to Englewood.

She plans to include the feedback in a report to the City of Chicago’s Five-Year Housing Plan Committee.

“If you had to talk to your cousin or your brother, what do you think that they would need to come back to the city of Chicago,” Butler said.

A majority of residents said that lower property taxes and more economic opportunities would incentivize their family members to return to Englewood.

Jocelyn Mills, 47, is the principal of Barbara A. Sizemore Academy and advocated for stronger educational opportunities to attract families to Englewood.

“People base their housing options on the schools that their children will attend,” Mills said. “If you strengthen the schools, you do also strengthen people’s desire to want to move back into that particular neighborhood.”

The housing issues in Englewood have been difficult, but R.A.G.E. Program Manager Tonika Johnson, 38, is optimistic.

“This community that we have of concerned residents is very fulfilling,” Johnson said. “It constantly renews the hope so there’s not ever a point where any of us could say it’s hopeless.”

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