WATCH: Pilsen site acquisition offers opportunity for affordable housing

Pilsen mural
More affordable housing may soon be coming to Pilsen. (Jane Vaughan / Medill Reports)

By Jane Vaughan
Medill Reports

Although affordable housing and gentrification have recently been issues in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, the acquisition of a six-acre lot there presents an opportunity to help address those needs. Chicago plans to purchase the lot in order to build nearly 300 affordable apartments. Community leaders look forward to conversations that will help determine what sort of amenities will be included at the site. 


The city of Chicago plans to soon buy a six-acre lot in Pilsen to build nearly 300 affordable apartments.

MOISES MORENO, DIRECTOR OF PILSEN ALLIANCE: It’s a long time coming to see the city take some action. That lot has been a point of struggle in the community for many decades.

The land sits on the 1600 and 1700 blocks of South Peoria Street and will cost the city $12 million. It’s one of the largest pieces of undeveloped land in the neighborhood. Leaders here say the need is urgent.

ALDERMAN BYRON SIGCHO-LOPEZ: I know that the community has a shortage of family-rented affordable housing for families. Many of them have been displaced.

Affordable housing has been an issue in Pilsen in recent years. Gentrification has crept into the neighborhood, pricing out long-time residents.

MORENO: The whole fight is what is affordable though? So that’s where we want to have really good community conversations and talk to folks to help us get a better understanding of what the needs are here so that it applies to folks in the neighborhood so it’s affordable for us.

The city will start getting input from community members this year about things like design, public amenities, and rental rates.

SIGCHO-LOPEZ: I think this will be a project where the community has the opportunity to create a vision with the city as opposed to being at odds.

Environmental cleanup could cost up to $1.5 million and is expected to finish by the end of the year. In Pilsen, Jane Vaughan, Medill Reports. 

Jane Vaughan is a social justice graduate student at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @jvaughan124