Chicago – Gentrification and Displacement

Mapping Displacement, Gentrification, and Exclusion in Chicago

UDP collaborated with the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) to assess local dynamics around gentrification, displacement, and exclusion in Chicago, in close collaboration with local partners. We hope that the resulting map of our neighborhood change typology will empower Chicago communities to better understand their trajectories and stabilize their resident population. 

When UDP met with stakeholders in Chicago, they expressed concern about the uneven distribution of risks, resources, (dis)investment, and opportunity along racial lines in communities across the region. Local advocates for equitable development described Chicago’s predominantly Black neighborhoods on the Southside as experiencing systemic disinvestment and suffering the impacts of school closures and gun violence, in contrast with the predominantly white, amenity-rich neighborhoods in the northern part of the city. They also noted the role of “anchor institutions” like universities and hospitals, increasing property taxes, and green investments like the 606 and “El Paseo” rails-to-trails projects in furthering investment-driven displacement in Chicago.

The UDP research team is especially grateful to our research partners at the DePaul Institute for Housing Studies, regional partners at Elevated Chicago, and to all of the Chicago SPARCC affiliate organizations listed below.

Key Findings

The UDP typology examines processes of gentrification and displacement in low-income neighborhoods (with a median household income at 80% of the regional median) and exclusion in moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods (at 80% of the regional median or above). Neighborhoods are categorized as exclusionary when rents are so expensive that low-income people are excluded from moving in—another form of displacement. The resulting typology map demonstrates the uneven distributions that Chicago SPARCC affiliates described. Whereas many tracts south of the Loop are classified as low-income areas, in some cases experiencing displacement and/or displacement risk, many of the region’s most exclusive areas are concentrated on the northside of downtown. 

  • 42% of Chicago neighborhoods experienced a rapid increase in housing costs (an increase above the regional median) between 2000 and 2017.
  • More than 200,000 low-income Chicago households (18% of all low-income households) live in low-income neighborhoods at risk of, or already experiencing, gentrification and/or displacement, especially in the southern and western parts of the city.
  • As of 2017, 59% of Chicago’s moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods demonstrated risk of or ongoing exclusion of lower-income households, a pattern especially prevalent in the northern part of the city and across its northern and western suburbs. One-third of Chicago’s low-income households, or about 400,000 low-income households, live in these potentially or currently exclusive neighborhoods.
  • Almost half of Chicago’s low-income households live in low- or moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods that are stable.
  • 22% of lower-income neighborhoods in Chicago were at risk of gentrification in 2017, and 16% were undergoing displacement of low-income households without gentrification.
  • Of the 21% of all Chicago neighborhoods that lost low-income households between 2000 and 2017, 62% were moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods, indicating a need to more carefully examine displacement in exclusive areas.