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Immigration, Refugee Resettlement and Rogers Park – Part One


This is the story of Cumar and Axlam (not their real names), two recent arrivals to Chicago and to Rogers Park. Unlike just about everyone reading this article, Cumar and Axlam were not able to simply book a flight or rent a U-Haul and move. In fact, when they began their odyssey, the odds of them successfully getting to the United States were almost laughably remote.


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Video - The Sullivan High School Soccer Team

Sullivan from Anthony Pellino on Vimeo.

Sullivan High School sits in the Rogers Park neighborhood just north of the Chicago loop. Their soccer team, The Tigers, is made up of 14 different players from 13 different countries. They are the only urban team to compete in Chicago's highly competitive High School Premier League.

Many of the players do not speak English, and rely on select teammates for translation. This film is a glimpse into their 2016 playoff run, and serves as a look into the passion and love these young men have for the sport that has helped them persevere through so much.

Production: Reverse (, Curfew (

Director: Anthony Pellino
DP: Zach Lowry, Jason Koontz
Boom/Mix: Scott Wietrzykowski
Editor: Carlos Flores
Color: Kath Raisch / Company 3 Color
Producer: Kate Aspell
Original Score: Ankit Suri
Sound Mix / Master: Lyell Roeder


July 2017 Market Update

July 2017 Market Update - Chicago leads major U.S. cities in population loss, sees drop for 3rd year in a row | Steve Cain, RPBG Director - Writer / Editor
These are strange times. Our political world has rarely felt more divided, acrimonious, unsettled and unpredictable. Such conditions generally spread outward, affecting people’s confidence in the future and, ultimately, the direction of our economy. But in today’s world, all the anguish about our body politic seems to have little impact on the economy which continues to hum along as it has done for years and shows every sign of continuing to do.
On the national level, the past few weeks have seen considerable hand-wringing about the future of health care. On the left, there is a palpable fear that the Republican proposals from the House and Senate will take away the “essential benefits” that the ACA made law, force millions back into the ranks of the uninsured, and transfer billions of dollars from the poor to the rich. On the right, there is enormous anger at Washington which is thoroughly and completely in Republican hands, yet seems unable to deliver on the promise that has held the party together for eight long years and four election cycles – to replace, if not completely repeal, the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare.
On the state level, if anything, things are even worse. There is a dark cloud hanging over Illinois, and it seems to grow blacker and more ominous with every passing day. The state’s calamitous stalemate over the non-existent state budget is about to enter year three. Only this time, there appear to be some real-world consequences that just might start to get the attention of everyday Illinoisans who seem to have brushed off our civic dysfunction up until now. 
Specifically, the three major ratings agencies are all threatening to cut Illinois’ bond ratings to junk, an ignominious first in the illustrious history of our great country. With junk status bestowed upon our bonds, other impacts begin to unfold, some of which seem likely to draw the ire of our fellow citizens. Among these is the impending shut-down of all construction work on area highway improvement projects. That would include the rebuilding of the Circle Interchange and I-55/Lake Shore Drive, a development that might just catch the notice of commuters heading into and out of the Loop. Five state universities could be forced into bankruptcy. And oh, by the way, no more Powerball ticket sales in Illinois. Now if THAT doesn’t get people riled up, nothing ever will.
The conflict over health care in Washington, or the budget in Springfield, are just the latest skirmishes between the Democrats and the Republicans in an endless stream of conflicts that have been raging between the two parties and, more fundamentally, between Blue and Red America. Yet the stock markets – always a good barometer for how the country is feeling about the economy – are once again near historic highs. The Dow Jones closed Friday, June 30 at 21,349, not far from the all-time high of just over 21,500 earlier in June. 
Am I the only one who feels like the disconnect between our political and economic realities is getting hard to reconcile? Has anyone else felt a little schizophrenic when contemplating the permanent state of crisis that defines our politics, and the blue skies and roses that describes our economy?  I will admit to being delighted with the performance of my investment portfolio; but I’m still afraid to turn on the radio in the morning to listen to the news. And I have a feeling I’m not the only one. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling that something has to give. I just hope it’s something good. The way things are going, it is getting harder to be an optimist these days.


Evening of Theater and More at Sullivan High - June 13th

An Evening of Live Theater & More at Sullivan High School

Tuesday, June 13 / Doors open 6:15pm / Program begins 7pm

6631 N. Bosworth / Park in lot off Greenview

An Evening of Theater and More at Sullivan High promises to be a genuine "feel good RPBG appreciation night" - and one that might cause you to feel immensely proud to be associated with our organization.

The performance - produced and directed by Lifeline Theater - based on stories from the student actors - reflects the diversity of their lives - and 11 of the 20 actors are immigrants and refugees.

(By the way, the amazing story in Chicago Magazine about Sullivan's refugee program (Welcome to Refugee High) is now available ON LINE.)


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June 2017 Market Update

June 2017 Market Update - Chicago leads major U.S. cities in population loss, sees drop for 3rd year in a row | Steve Cain, RPBG Director - Writer / Editor

For the third year in a row, Chicago has lost population. It is the only one of the 20 largest cities in the country to do so. The population loss was very slight – down by only 8,638 people out of a total population of over 2.7 million. But a loss is a loss, and the fact that we are the only large city in the country to be in this position is worrying.

But there was another headline that you might not have noticed because it was much more obscure. Did you hear about the Rider Levett Bucknall North American Crane Index? No, I didn’t think so. Well, as a died-in-the-wool nerd, it caught my attention.

RLB puts out a survey of 13 major cities in Canada and the US that literally counts up the number of cranes in these city-centers at different points in time. As of January of this year (2017), downtown Chicago had the second highest number of cranes (56) of any American city, behind only Seattle (62). At 81 cranes, Toronto was the North American leader. Together, these three city centers accounted for close to 50% of all the cranes in the survey.

These two headlines raise an obvious question that begs to be answered – how can both be true? How can Chicago be alone among the 20 largest US cities in population loss, and still be near the top of the pile in terms of new construction? What the heck is going on?

Crain’s Chicago Business (not to be confused with cranes) had an interesting observation about Chicago’s population loss that I think sheds some light on this subject. In his September 29, 2016 article, Greg Hinz teams up with two demographers to pull apart the population loss numbers to better understand what is happening to our city. A number of interesting findings emerge from this analysis, but the bombshell is this – the population loss currently ongoing in Chicago is primarily due to the continued out-migration of African-Americans from the city, a trend that has been occurring since at least 2000. The Caucasian, Latino and Asian populations all continue to increase, although slowly. And, depending on where you live within the city limits, the economy is either booming, stable or in free-fall. Can you guess which neighborhoods are in the latter category, and which group is most impacted by this decline?

These findings are certainly disturbing and confirm that for far too many Chicagoans, life in the city is often difficult, dangerous and, increasingly, not worth the trouble. But the conclusions of the article also give us reason to believe that our overall population decline does not necessarily have to be permanent, nor does it seem to be accompanied by widespread economic decline. Certainly, if you live on much of the South and West Sides of the city, there are a lot of good reasons to run as far from Chicago as you can get. At the same time, all those cranes (not to be confused with Crain’s) on the horizon are not an illusion. They are very real, and they herald the emergence of 21st Century Chicago which remains a favored location for corporate headquarters, and which is still a leader in finance, advanced business services and, increasingly, technology.

These are difficult times to call Chicago home. Our state officials fiddle while Springfield burns. Our president disparages us (not unfairly) for our violence and our high murder rate. We are unique in losing population when all of our peers are gaining. But look deeper at the numbers, and the picture changes. As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Perhaps this is also true for Chicago in 2017. No one disputes that much is wrong in the city and the state. But it may be too soon to write us off entirely. Perhaps a different and better future could emerge from our current distress. Wouldn’t it be great if this future could benefit all Chicagoans, regardless of zip code or race?


May 2017 Market Update

At the macro-level, the economy appears to be in a sort of high-altitude holding pattern. After dipping a bit mid-April, the Dow Jones is back at near-record highs, and recently flirted with the 21,000 mark. Unemployment is currently as low as it has been since before the onset of the Great Recession. The unemployment rate was 4.5% in March, two-tenths of a point below the February rate and the lowest it has been since May 2007.

On the flip side of this good news, only 98,000 net new jobs were created in March, well below expectations. GDP increased at just 0.7% on an annualized basis during the first quarter of 2017, and consumer spending increased at a disappointing 0.3% during the same period.

In the face of these conflicting indicators, the Federal Reserve’s Open Markets Committee (FOMC) held rates steady after wrapping up their two-day meeting May 2-3. For now, at least, the federal funds rate will remain at its current 0.75% to 1.0% level, although an increase at the next meeting June 13-14 is expected.

So, is the glass half-full or half-empty? And why do so many people still feel so gloomy about the economy this many years into the recovery? One of the explanations for this conundrum is becoming more and more obvious with every passing year – how you feel about the economy depends as never before on where you live.

Trulia, an online real estate resource, recently conducted a study of housing value improvement for the 100 largest metropolitan areas across the country since the end of the recession, measuring house values as of December 1, 2007 and again as of March 1, 2017. What they found was startling. Overall, just 34.2% of all homes nationally have seen values surpass pre-recession peaks, and the disparity in home values was widely correlated with where you live. Certain regions of the country have done much better than others, and even within metro areas, some zip codes have far out-performed others.

Not surprisingly, the metro areas with the most widespread recoveries include such Millennial favorites and technology hot spots as Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Portland and Austin where 80% of more of all homes have increased in value since December 1, 2007. At the other end of the spectrum, the worst performers seem to be those places that were especially high-flying before the recession hit. At the bottom of the Trulia study are such cities as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and the Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino, CA) where fewer than 5% of all homes were worth more than they were before the recession. 

A Crain’s article, “Housing Recovery Lags Other Big Metro Areas” (May 3, 2017) picked up this story, and took a look at how the Chicago area stacked up. In short, the answer is – not very well. While a handful of zip codes mostly in and near the downtown area have done well, overall only 7.6% of the homes in greater Chicago are now worth more than they were before the recession. This places Chicago at the bottom on the list of the ten largest metro areas in housing value recovery and in the lowest quintile among the top 100. This poor housing value recovery is closely tied to the area’s below-average job growth and near-zero population growth.

So, the next time you hear someone say they don’t believe the economic recovery has gotten to them yet, don’t be too judgmental. If they live in most of metro Chicago and large parts of the Industrial Midwest – indeed, if they live in any of the nearly two out of three zip codes nationwide where home values have still not fully recovered from the last recession – then they are probably spot on.


April 2017 Market Update

I’ve had some criticism recently for the political content of my “market reviews.” This criticism is not without merit. RPBG is a non-partisan organization of property owners and service providers. We try hard to avoid taking political positions, and we steer clear of any political endorsements or preferences for one candidate or another.

Certainly, we have taken strong political positions on issues that directly impact our members. There have been no shortage of new ordinances, laws and mandates coming out of City Council or Springfield in recent years. We are not shy about taking positions on these pieces of legislation when we believe our members are being adversely impacted or singled out.

But things have gotten a bit more complicated since the November elections. It has been challenging to separate national politics from business in recent months due to the clear influence the one is having on the other. The (until recently) soaring stock market is one obvious example. Given the heightened mixing of politics and business, is it fair game to raise these issues, or are they best avoided in the interest of remaining politically neutral? I have chosen to take a “grab the bull by the horns” strategy in my monthly reviews. Since the elections, it’s been hard to separate what’s going on in Washington with what’s happening on Wall Street or Main Street.

This past week is no exception. Actions in Washington are, once again, spilling into the business domain. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that the Republicans tried and failed to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA). So, what is the link between the AHCA and the markets? For months, we have been witnessing an amazing rise in equities markets worldwide. This has been dubbed “the Trump effect,” a reflection of the optimism the markets have shown for the stated goals of the new president to cut regulations and reform the tax code.

But something strange happened on the way to our new era of prosperity. Market hopes for tax reform and deregulation have been met instead with threats to cut off funding to Sanctuary cities, raids on immigrant communities and a proposed budget that favors military spending over social programs and the environment. These measures can be argued on their own merit. But the slide in stock prices suggests that investors view these actions less favorably than they would a serious effort to tackle the tax code or the regulatory environment.

The AHCA experience also reveals deep divisions in the Republican Party and the inexperience of the new president in the ways of Washington. This throws into doubt the big plans President Trump and the Republicans have set for themselves, and is increasingly of concern to the markets. The direct result of this newfound uncertainty is a reversal in the gains we have seen in recent months in equities markets. So far, this reversal is small – the Dow Jones remains well above 20,000. But the markets are clearly taking note of what’s happening in Washington, and are not sure they like what they see.

The next big test in Washington, and one that will have a huge impact on the future of our economy, is the looming government shut-down if Congress does not authorize an increase in the current debt ceiling. Without such authorization, the US government will be unable to pay its obligations, causing a default on the national debt. The clock is already ticking, as the current debt ceiling was reached last month (March 15).

In some ways, this is nothing new. Several times during the Obama presidency, we were faced with Congressional opposition to raising the debt ceiling. If anything, one would think that Republican control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of the government would prevent a shut-down from happening.

But the same fissures that emerged in the AHCA debate could come back again over the debt ceiling. The “Freedom Caucus” (the faction of the Republican Party that effectively killed the AHCA) is, and has always been, against any increase in the national debt. At the very least, some of the Freedom Caucus members would like to make defunding of Planned Parenthood a pre-condition of approval for an increase in the higher debt. Clearly, this demand will not sit well with the Democrats, or even some moderate Republicans. It will also, once again, put the much-vaunted negotiating skills of the new president to the test. A default on the national debt is no laughing matter. If it happens, the economy is in for a very rocky ride indeed.


RPBG Funds Botanical Program at Gale Academy

Rogers Park Builders Group Funds Chicago Botanic Garden Traveling Plant Science Teacher Program for Pre-K at Gale Academy

The Rogers Park Builders Group kindly provided the $220 to enable the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Traveling Plant Science Teacher program, to come to Gale Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park.  This donation enabled the two Pre-K classrooms to receive a visit from one of their science teachers on February 22nd.  Geared toward their age group, the little ones learned about “Terrific Trees.”  The curriculum is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.


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An Open Letter to State Representative Will Guzzardi

An Open Letter to State Representative Will Guzzardi, House District 39, Illinois General Assembly:

Why Rent Control is a Bad Idea for Chicago… and Everywhere Else.

Dear Representative Guzzardi:

The Rogers Park Builders Group (RPBG) is a group of property owners and real estate service providers with ties to the Rogers Park community. We are strongly committed to our neighborhood and have a deep commitment to the well-being of its citizens. We take our responsibilities as property owners seriously, and are always looking to forge relationships with our community partners, whether in the business, non-profit, or government sectors.

We read with great interest the news of your recent bill, introduced in the Illinois General Assembly, that would repeal the state ban on the adoption of local rent control laws. We understand that, as an elected official for the residents of Logan Square and other Northwest Side communities, you are looking for ways to minimize the impact on your constituents of recent, rapid increases in rent that have forced many families out of your District. We understand that you represent the interests of your community and want to help your constituents.

We agree that rents have risen rapidly in certain areas, including yours and other high-demand areas of the city. Although rents have not increased as rapidly in Rogers Park, our community has also seen sustained increases over the past several years.

While rising prices certainly result in the displacement of some families, we strongly believe that it is not true that putting legal limits on rent increases would solve the problems of the families who are most impacted by rising rents, the very people you are presumably trying to help with your legislation. In fact, RPBG would argue that any attempt to implement rent control will do more to harm these families than help them.

RPBG tries to represent the views of our members, just as you try to represent the views of your constituents. On the subject of rent control, our view is very clear. Rent control would be harmful in Chicago, just as it has been harmful in other cities that have enacted it. At best, it would offer short-term relief to your constituents in Logan Square and other places that are experiencing high rent increases. However, over the longer-term, it would result in lower-quality housing, reduced construction of new units, and generally higher prices on an average basis. Ironically, the people who will suffer the most if rent control ever becomes law in Chicago are the very people you are trying to help. Studies have conclusively shown that, over time, the people who benefit most from rent control laws are middle and upper-income people.

We present three reasons why we believe rent control would be harmful to your constituents, to the city as a whole, and to any municipality that contemplates adopting it:

IT DOESN’T WORK: Study after study has demonstrated that the intended benefit of rent control – to keep housing affordable for low and moderate-income people – not only fails to achieve this goal but, ultimately, makes things worse for all concerned.

There is a strong link between limiting the ability of property-owners and developers to raise rents to what the market will bear, and the amount of investment that will flow into housing. A reduction in investment in housing has two primary impacts. First, existing units will suffer from reduced maintenance as property owners are unable to realize a return on investment by increasing rent. Secondly, new housing production will decline for the same reason – both the developers of, and investors in, new-construction housing will be less likely to build or trade properties that are subject to rent restrictions.

As housing unit quality and quantity both decline, the market will diverge. Rent controlled units will be more affordable, but also less well maintained. New construction units will become scarcer and more expensive as developers build fewer new apartment buildings.

Ironically, demand for rent controlled units in desirable locations will increase as the supply stagnates. Lower-income families will still be driven out of these desirable communities as higher-income / higher-credit families submit stronger applications for rent controlled units as they become available. Ultimately, many lower-income families will migrate to less desirable communities, despite the best efforts of rent control to prevent this from happening. With rent control in place, the entire market will suffer from lower maintenance of the existing housing stock, lower production of new housing, and much higher rental prices for new housing as supply contracts. Thus, it is the very people your legislation seeks to help – namely, those families with limited financial resources – who will suffer the most from the long-term impacts of rent control.

Studies have conclusively demonstrated that lower-income people move more frequently than middle and upper-income families. Higher-income families in rent controlled markets will often stay in the same apartment for longer periods of time simply to maintain the price advantage of low rents that have been locked in over many years. Lower-income families typically have less job and income security, and must move more frequently. Over time, these families are the most likely to lose the benefit of low-cost rental housing in desirable areas.

You don’t have to look far to see how this plays out in places that have implemented rent control.  There is a direct, causal, inverse relationship between housing affordability and the implementation of rent control. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC are all prime examples of cities where the primary beneficiaries of rent control have been upper-income renters. These are the people who have been able to stay in their apartments for decades. Over time, lower-income people gradually lose these benefits and have been driven out of the most desirable areas of these cities.

Cambridge, Massachusetts is an especially interesting example. Cambridge had rent control between 1970 and 1994.  In 1995, rent control was repealed in Cambridge when the state of Massachusetts outlawed it in all municipalities. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study of the impact of this repeal found that investment in housing increased once rent control was banned, resulting in major gains in housing quality and increases in supply. While lower-income families were indeed pushed out of Cambridge after 1995, this was not a new phenomenon. A 1985 study by Peter Navarro concluded the “poor, the elderly, and families – the three major groups targeted for benefits of rent control – were no more likely to be found in controlled than uncontrolled units.” Demand for rent control units had been intense prior to its deregulation, and rarely available units were in high demand. The people most likely to be approved for new rent-control leases had higher incomes and better credit. Thus, rent control did little to help all but a lucky-few families, and did much to hurt the overall Cambridge housing market.

The present experience of San Francisco and New York, and the past experience of Cambridge, demonstrate that rent control has limited benefits for low and moderate-income families, but clear negative impacts on overall housing quality and price. In many ways, rent control produces the “worst-of-all-worlds,” with both lower quality housing and ever-increasing prices for new or unregulated units. The 1985 Navarro report concludes, “the economics profession has reached a rare consensus: Rent control creates many more problems than it solves.”

IT’S NOT FAIR: If you don’t believe “it doesn’t work,” consider the “it’s not fair” argument. Like many similar measures, rent control is an attempt by the government to pass a cost that should be borne by all to one specific group. In this case, the cost of affordable housing is being placed squarely on the shoulders of the owners of housing.

This is justified on several grounds, but in particular, on the assumption that property owners are wealthy and can afford the cost. Worse, property owners are often portrayed as heartless business people who are motivated only by a desire to exploit their tenants. While there are examples of wealthy, uncaring property owners, this is by no means typical. At RPGB, we take great pride in working cooperatively with our community, and giving back to those in need. The majority of our members – indeed, a majority of property owners in the Chicago area – are not wealthy. We are business people who are trying to make a living like everyone else.

Whether you believe property owners are wealthy and heartless or not, the more important question we would like you to consider is, whose responsibility is it to help low and moderate-income families to find good, safe housing in desirable neighborhoods? If you believe that it is fair to place this burden on the shoulders of just those people who own the housing, then you can justify rent control and many other government mandates.

At RPBG, we believe that affordable housing is a public good and that the cost of providing this good should be equitably shared by all. We have been frequent critics of regulations that seek to shift public burdens onto private sources of revenues.

This is especially unfair when one group of private owners is called on to bear the cost of a significant public good. Affordable housing is a vexing problem, and solving it will cost many millions of dollars. To place the brunt of this cost on one small group of people is extremely unfair. It also adds to the burden already placed on property owners reeling from years of ever-growing city mandates and fees on rental housing. As property ownership becomes increasingly expensive, and as compliance with city regulations become increasingly difficult, fewer people will become property owners in the first place, and the increased costs of these mandates will continue to be passed along to renters.

THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR GOAL: Perhaps we have been unable to convince you that rent control is ineffective in helping lower-income families find and keep good housing in good neighborhoods, or that local and state governments should refrain from burdening one class of citizens with the cost of providing affordable housing to lower-income families. If so, consider our last argument that there are better ways to accomplish your goal.

But, before we offer you some alternatives, let me state that the members of RPBG believe that affordable housing is an important and worthy goal to pursue. Rogers Park is arguably the city’s most diverse neighborhood with people of every description at all income levels who live together in relative harmony. We take great pride in the Rogers Park community and its unique diversity. We would like to see that character preserved and believe Chicago would be a better city if more of it was like Rogers Park. We want Rogers Park to remain a welcoming and affordable place for all to live.

If we can all agree that the goal of creating and preserving affordable housing is a worthy one, we are not able to agree with you on how this goal should be reached. In particular, we do not want to see ineffective measures adopted, at our expense. Such ineffective measures certainly include rent control.

Here then are a few alternatives that RPBG believes could better accomplish the important goal of preserving affordable housing in desirable communities – like our own Rogers Park – but without placing the burden of this cost on property owners.

Expand the Section 8 voucher program:

  • Advantages – This is probably the best way to help lower-income families deal with the ever-increasing cost of rental housing. It is also the fairest way to share the cost, since this is a Federal program paid with income tax revenues from everyone who files a tax return. Section 8 has helped millions of families cover the cost of housing at just 30% of household income. The problem is, there are not enough vouchers for all the people who need them.
  • Disadvantages – As a Federal program under a new administration that has shown little support for affordable housing, any expansion of the voucher program is a long-term goal and not one that can be easily implemented over the short-term.

Create more permissive zoning that allows for higher density and smaller average unit sizes:

  • Advantages – Chicago controls its own destiny regarding what can be built and where. Small changes in current zoning regulations can result in the production of more units, at more affordable prices, if we have the will to push them through. Current building codes remain onerous and expensive to implement. The city could do more to relax building codes without compromising safety or good building standards. They could also allow greater density and smaller average unit sizes in high demand areas. These measures could lower the cost and increase the availability of housing in areas where the demand is greatest.
  • Disadvantages – NIMBY-ism is hard to combat. In gentrifying neighborhoods, residents bemoan the new people moving to the area and the rising rents that inevitably result. But they resist efforts to expand the housing base that could relieve some of the upward pressure on rents. You can’t have it both ways. Popular neighborhoods need more housing to meet increased demand. Either build more housing by implementing more permissive zoning and common-sense building code modifications, or accept the rapid increase in rents for the existing housing that is already there.

Encourage development across the city:

  • Advantages – For every Logan Square or Pilsen, there are many more Englewood’s and Austin’s. Rather than focus exclusively on rising rents in just a few places, we should find ways to channel some of this energy into other parts of the city. Chicago is increasingly turning into a city of “have’s” and “have not’s.” There should be creative strategies that state and local governments can utilize to spread this growing affluence across a wider geography. Better schools in all city neighborhoods would go a long way toward encouraging development beyond the North Side and greater downtown area. Better city services, expanded transportation options and a renewed focus on community policing could all work to improve neighborhoods that have not seen any of the benefits from the rampant development in just a handful of “hot” neighborhoods.
    At RPBG, we would be much more receptive to “carrots” that “sticks.” (I’m sure we are not the only group of people who do not like being treated with sticks by our elected officials.) To be clear, rent control is a stick. Development incentives might be a tool for providing some benefits to property owners who could be enticed to buy, renovate or develop new housing in emerging neighborhoods.
  • Disadvantages – Incentives cost money, and the state and city are both broke. This may be a big challenge. But cries of poverty are not a good excuse for the shameless transfer of public costs onto private shoulders. Affordable housing should be a shared burden. The city and state will be acting irresponsibly and unfairly if they try to push this cost onto the backs of property owners. We ask you to work with us to find creative solutions to affordable housing, not against us to force the transfer of public responsibilities into private hands.

RPBG has worked hard to be a good partner in Rogers Park, one of the city’s great neighborhoods. We have worked hard to forge relationships at all levels with a wide cross-section of community leaders. We would be happy to work with you as well on productive efforts to help solve the problem of affordable housing and rapidly rising rents in certain areas.

But we will fight any attempt to use methods that don’t work, or that place this burden exclusively on our shoulders. We call on you to consider our arguments and find a better way to help your constituents. We are convinced that your proposed legislation will accomplish none of your goals. Worse, we are convinced it will hurt your constituents, as it will hurt all of the people of Chicago.

Rent control is unquestionably unfair to property owners. It will make the housing market in Chicago less competitive; it will lower housing quality as property owners are forced to reduce maintenance and repairs in the face of their inability to pass along these costs; ultimately, it will make housing scarcer and more expensive for everyone.

San Francisco and New York are not models for anyone to follow. These cities are among the least welcoming to lower-income families in the country. It is not a coincidence that both cities have had rent control in place for many years. Chicago has avoided this fate by wisely avoiding rent control. We should work together to find better ways to solve the affordable housing problems we face.

Thank you,

Rogers Park Builders Group:
Allen Smith, President
Marty Max, Vice President
Steve Cain, Secretary
Mike Glasser, Communications, Planning and Development


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