Residents along 606 Trail worry they'll be displaced by surging home prices in Logan Square, Humboldt Park

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some residents living along Chicago's popular 606 Trail are concerned they will be displaced by surging home prices. Mayor Lori Lightfoot stopped a proposed ordinance to halt skyrocketing prices along the trail because of legal concerns.

The 606, a former freight right of way, has transformed the Humboldt Park and Logan Square neighborhoods. It has also brought gentrification, and for the people who have called these neighborhoods home for many years, that is a real problem.

Gary Jimenez Rodriguez, a 19-year-old accounting student at UIC, said his family and neighbors were summarily booted from their rental homes in eastern Humboldt Park soon after the 606 Trail came into being in 2015 when they couldn't afford a $500 a month rental increase.

"We all grew up together, we all grew up in the same neighborhoods. And it's like all of a sudden, just because this new item has come into the neighborhood, it's like we suddenly have to move and get kicked out of our houses. It is not like we want to, but we are literally being kicked out because we can't afford the rent," he said.

Their plight mirrors that of many who have seen the downside of property values spiking alongside the trail, sometimes quadrupling, according to a DePaul University study. A pair of area aldermen, including the 26th Ward's Roberto Maldonado, want to stem the tide by halting all but affordable housing development until March 30 of next year.

"Look, the worst thing that we can see in the city of Chicago is to get to the point where we see the working families having to travel from the western suburbs in trains or in carpools, coming to the city of Chicago to work and then they have to go back home where they are coming from. That is not right," Maldonado said.

Maldonado and 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa were surprised to learn Mayor Lori Lightfoot is apparently not in full agreement with their moratorium due to legal concerns - even though the mayor campaigned on neighborhood sustainability themes and supports more affordable housing in the city. Maldonado said the pressure to gentrify is relentless.

"Every month, four or five developments are coming up in my ward," Maldonado said. "None of those developments are for people that look like you or me that they can, that we can afford."

Maldonado for one hopes the moratorium will be voted on by the full council next week - something residents say developers need to hear.

"All of a sudden it's like nope, we have money, we are going to put our money into your community. All of a sudden but, you can't have a piece of the pie you have to get out," Rodriguez said.
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