Foreclosures could impact between 9,644 and 28,923 rental housing units in Chicago

June 18, 2008 - 10:51am

Foreclosures on multi-family
buildings are clearly a problem, and on an even larger scale than suggested in a recent Chicago Tribune
article (Foreclosure’s
Hidden Victims,” June 8, 2008).

Recent research by the Woodstock Institute shows that in 2007 alone, over 35 percent of the foreclosures in the City of Chicago, or over 4,822 foreclosure filings, were on small multi-family properties.   Depending on the number of units in each property, these foreclosures could impact between 9,644 and 28,923 housing units.

File Icon Foreclosure Crisis Impacts Chicago's Rental Housing Market

Unfortunately, foreclosures on rental buildings are not evenly distributed across the city, but rather concentrated in certain neighborhoods, particularly in lower-income and minority communities.  In West Garfield Park, over 86 percent of the 2007 foreclosure filings were on these multi-family buildings.  In North Lawndale, nearly 80 percent of the 2007 foreclosure filings were on multi-family buildings. 

Keeping these units in service makes good sense, not just in a short term effort to stem the neighborhood costs of mounting foreclosures, but as part of a coordinated, long term strategy to keep thousands of affordable apartments available for working families.  In a regional effort to reverse the loss of affordable multi-family properties, the Preservation Compact, led by the Urban Land Institute, has launched a comprehensive Rental Housing Action Plan for the region, designed to preserve and improve 75,000 existing affordable rental homes by 2020 that might otherwise be lost to foreclosure, condo conversion, or rent increases.

As the number of foreclosures on small multifamily properties grows, these initiatives and others like them need to be in place to help municipal governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector work together and keep these units active in the rental market. Without such vehicles, large inventories of potentially usable buildings will remain vacant, and mounting foreclosures will continue to reverse decades of hard work to keep the Chicago region housing vital and affordable.

Ada Skyles
Woodstock Institute


Rich Hanson
Preservation Compact