East Garfield Park residents fight rising home prices to prevent displacement as West Loop developments push west

Garfield Park Community Council Executive Director Mike Tomas

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CHICAGO (WLS) -- A fight for affordable housing on Chicago's West Side is a team effort as a coalition of residents and community groups meet Tuesday to present their goals and strategies to prevent displacement.

Brian K. Ellison not only lives in East Garfield Park, but has also owned a custom furniture manufacturing business in the neighborhood for over 25 years. However, in recent years he said he has seen big changes. "I have noticed things starting to change in regard to property price points with the amount of activity for development and renovation that is going on," Ellson said.

Development from the West Loop is pushing its way west into East Garfield Park. According to the Metropolitan Planning Council, home prices in the neighborhood have increased by 20% in 2018, making it the highest in Chicago. Since 2012, home values have also increased by 146%.

"It's still not as far as Logan Square or Pilsen, for example, but right now felt like the right opportunity to be proactive about what can be done," said Juan Sebastain Arias with the Metropolitan Planning Council.

To prevent displacement of longtime residents and to provide affordable housing for new residents, the Metropolitan Planning Council has teamed up with other community groups to provide a blueprint for community action. The idea is not to stop development or gentrification, but to preserve affordability.

"I think what we are trying to do is figure out a way to manage that, and lay out a vision that can balance investment and maintain affordability," said Mike Thomas with Garfield Park Community Council.

One solution includes more community land trusts, where a non-profit owns the land and permanently keeps it affordable. This would help mom and pop landlords keep their two or three flats is another strategy.

"Community impact, community presence and community voice really helps preserve affordability in these communities," Ellson said.

The coalition plans will present its plan at Tuesday's meeting at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The goal is to get more residents involved in the fight for affordable housing.