AUDIO: LOGAN SQUARE PROTESTERS FEAR GENTRIFICATION

By Harry Huggins
February 17, 2016 for Medill News Service

On a freezing cold Thursday morning, a dozen protesters gathered outside a Blue Line station in Logan Square. They handed out flyers to the commuters sidling by them, and they chanted.

“We are many! We are tough! Ten percent is not enough!”

They marched in front of a barren construction site nearby. Two cranes behind them pieced together the subject of the group’s anger, two luxury apartment buildings known as the “twin towers.” When completed, the buildings will stand 11 and 12 stories, towering above the mostly three and four level buildings that make up the small-neighborhood look of Logan Square.

Somos Logan Square organized the protest. The group’s members have opposed the apartments since Rob Buono, the developer, proposed the project in 2014. Noah Moskowitz, a volunteer with Somos, explained their demands to the city and Buono.

They want 30 percent of the apartments in all new developments to be affordable for families making 30 percent of the area median income. Right now, the buildings are slated to have 10 percent of the more than 200 units be affordable to families making 60 percent of AMI. That’s $45,600 per year for a family of four or $31,000 for a single person.

Chicago approved the towers’ building permits last October, clearing the way for the estimated $25 million project.

Although there is little room left to stop the project, protesters hope they can bring attention to the troubling trend of gentrification in the neighborhood.

Hafizah Omar, another Somos protester, blames the area’s alderman, Joe Moreno, for only timidly promoting affordable housing in Logan Square. She said the low requirements for affordable housing in new developments are pushing out the low-income residents that make Logan Square a vibrant community.

Diana Bienko spoke at the protest. She moved to an apartment twice as expensive as her long-time home in Logan Square in January after her landlord sold her building to a new developer. She got her eviction notice two days before Thanksgiving.

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