Chicago Declares Overwhelming Support for Rent Control
Rent Control Referendum to “Lift the Ban” secures 75% support across 10 wards
With votes tallied, the “Lift the Ban” referendum reveals that Chicago voters overwhelmingly support lifting the statewide ban on rent control, a major first step in the process of securing protections for renters to keep rents affordable and stem the rising tide of gentrification.
The so-called “Lift the Ban” referendum question appeared on the ballots in 10 wards in yesterday’s Primary election. Voters with an overwhelming 75% support, averaged citywide.
Organizers and volunteers working citywide with the “Lift the Ban” Coalition celebrated until late into Tuesday evening, with one canvasser describing the results of the referendum as “unimaginable victory on the electoral landscape on this issue.”
Chicago has seen an increase in rent-burdened households because wage increases have not kept up with rent increases. Citywide, between 2000 and 2009, incomes fell 8.1% while the percent of rent burdened renters increased 10.1% to 54.6% citywide.
“Lift the Ban” Organizer Jawanza Malone was not surprised by the overwhelming support for rent control that voters expressed at the polls Tuesday night. Malone explains, “Tenants in Chicago are being displaced from their homes and communities in record numbers. While people may be feeling it to different extents, everyone is feeling this pinch. When half your income is going to housing expenses, that leaves very little money for education, or health-care cost, or even basic necessities. We have to recognize the huge burden these high rents place on families without a lot of money. It’s time we do something about it.”
Byron Sigcho, the executive director of the Pilsen Alliance echoes Malone’s sentiments, citing the loss of over 10,000 Latinos over the past decade from the Pilsen community, a Mexican immigrant enclave for the previous half century that lies nestled inside the broader 25th ward, where voters across the ward had the chance to vote on the referendum on March 20th. Sigcho explains, “Across the entire 25th ward, we won the rent control issue on a landslide in the polls Tuesday night. People are fed up with the effects of unregulated hyper-development in Chicago which is raising not only rents but also property taxes to unsustainable levels. It’s exciting that homeowners and renters have come together with one voice to fight for their shared interest in securing rent stabilization. We hope legislators listen to what this vote is unambiguously telling them: The forces of democracy are tired of seeing their communities preyed upon by profiteering real estate corporations. The people are hungry for real solutions to the gentrification issue. Candidates who want our votes would do well to heed what this referendum overwhelmingly tells us: It’s time to lift the ban on rent control and move away from band-aid solutions to Chicago’s gentrification crisis towards a real solution that stabilizes rents, and protects renters, workers, and communities.”
Chicago also sent a strong message to crooked politicians who have been benefiting through campaign donations in exchange of favorable treatment for developers and special interest groups. People are simply tired of corruption and pay to play politics in Illinois, and it is empowering to see in the horizon a badly needed property tax assessment reform that will help homeowners and small businesses, as promised by the newly elected Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi.
In this line, after 20 years of organizing at the grassroots level and denouncing the corruption of pay to play politics adopted by Alderman Danny Solis, we see hope and change coming to our community soon. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped on election day, and thank you to all the residents of the 25th Ward who supported with their vote our grassroots efforts to address displacement in Pilsen and across the city.
This is indeed a big step towards addressing the housing affordability issues that affect our communities, and on behalf of the Pilsen Alliance and the Lift the ban coalition, we would like to invite you all to our community/volunteer appreciation celebration TOMORROW, Friday March 23rd from 7pm to 11pm at Twisted Cantina (1640 S Blue Island Ave. Chicago, IL 60608).
Hope you can join us to celebrate this important victory for our community and continue to support grassroots organizing in Pilsen and across the city.
Si se puede!
Pilsen Alliance team
For additional information about the referendum, please visit: