Englewood’s population and housing stock dropping, 2020 census data shows
Census numbers show Chicago has grown slightly and become more diverse over the past 10 years, but an examination of neighborhood-level data from the 2020 Census shows that while some neighborhoods boomed in the aftermath of the Great Recession, d others never did.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Englewood and West Englewood, where the loss of residents coincides with a drop in the number of housing units during the 2010s.
While the city saw its population increase by 2% between 2010 and 2020, Englewood’s population fell by more than 20% – from 30,654 to 24,369, according to a Sun-Times analysis of Census Bureau data. published in August.
West Englewood’s population has fallen from 35,505 in 2010 to 29,647 in 2020, a decline of 16%. The two community areas – often lumped together by residents, who refer to it as “greater Englewood” – have had the highest percentage loss in the city.
Between 2010 and 2020, Greater Englewood lost 2,856 homes – the largest loss of any community area in the city, and a figure that tops third-place Roseland, which lost just 494 units.
In total, 14 of the city’s 77 community areas lost homes, but the losses were concentrated in 10 areas on the south side, which saw a combined drop of 4,622 homes. Of the other four community areas that lost units, one was on the west side, two on the northwest side, and one on the north side.
The five community areas with the largest increases, clustered in the downtown area, combined to add 25,182 housing units. These areas were the Near North Side, the Loop, the Near West Side, West Town, and the Near South Side.
Asiaha Butler, co-founder of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, said the significant decline in population and housing was predictable and the result of government neglect, noting that 16 public schools had closed in Englewood since 2001.
But the housing crisis has also devastated the community.
Predatory lending resulted in an average of 500 foreclosure filings per year from 2007 to 2012 in Englewood, according to the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University. Englewood was also a destination for straw buyers committing mortgage fraud.
These foreclosed homes deteriorated, and in an effort to combat the blight, the city began demolishing them, creating blocks with large swaths of vacant land.
“It happened personally in my block where houses just disappeared,” Butler said. “In particular, it seems there were some aggressive demolitions in 2012. It was like waking up and seeing a new demolition crew every day.”
In 2012, the city approved 199 demolitions in Englewood and 163 demolitions in West Englewood — more than any other community area that year, according to city data.
Then there was the city’s decision in 2013 to sell 105 city-owned land for $1.1 million to Norfolk Southern Railway, which wanted to expand its rail facility in Englewood – although that expansion has still not been completed. finished. This sale set in motion Norfolk Southern’s aggressive tactic of buying up houses that were not vacant.
“Our local government has played a huge role in destroying legacy homes that have housed families since 1948,” Butler said. “These were actual homes that the owners lived in, and our government had no problem helping evict these people and for what?”
“This project, which still hasn’t materialized, has brought no jobs, investment or anything else – just destruction,” Butler said.
Norfolk Southern has demolished more than 100 homes since its expansion project began.
Geoff Smith, executive director of the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University, said housing downsizing typically happens in one of two ways. This involves the deconversion of single-family homes or demolitions.
“Englewood and West Englewood, which already had a history of divestment, were among the hardest hit during the housing crisis which led to much of its housing stock falling into foreclosure,” Smith said. “It then moves on to abandonment, deterioration of the building and finally demolitions.”
Smith does not believe that the decimation of the housing stock and the decline in population were inevitable. Going forward, he said, a strategy is needed to stabilize the housing stock in Greater Englewood.
The city has made efforts to increase the number of housing units in the area in recent years. This includes Englewood’s new Montclare Seniors’ Residence, 6332 S. Green St., and Hope Manor Village Veterans Housing, 6002 S. Halsted St.
Hope Manor replaced 16 vacant lots, donated by the city, with 12 two-unit and four three-unit buildings. The award-winning buildings offer 36 affordable family units; each is fully furnished. The city also participated in the financing of the project.
In September, City Council also approved the sale of 35 city-owned lots for $1 each in Englewood Phase One. Plans call for a five-story building with 56 rental units – 33 one-bedroom units and 23 two-bedroom units. And 40 will be reserved for households earning between 30% and 60% of the region’s median income levels, while 14 will receive Section 8 rental assistance.
Greater Englewood is also one of the areas Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West initiative aims to help.
The idea behind the effort is “to mobilize resources from multiple city departments, community organizations, and business and philanthropic partners to 10 communities on the south and west sides of Chicago,” said Eugenia Orr, spokeswoman for the Department of city housing. “As the investment returns to the community with increased resources, the community is expected to thrive and grow.”
The Department of Housing also runs several programs that can help homeowners stay in their homes by easing the burden of expensive repairs. The agency said it is also working to increase neighborhood stability in Greater Englewood through its Micro Market Recovery Program, which encourages reinvestment in vacant buildings and supports home ownership. — even offering up to $15,000 in down payment assistance to eligible buyers, as long as they plan to live in the home.
Butler said it’s a good program, but the city should promote it more. a program that is not used is useless.
Just as local government played a role in the divestiture of Greater Englewood, Butler said, it must also help uplift the community. But she is skeptical that it can.
Even the housing projects sprouting up in the community won’t bring the change everyone hopes for, she said.
The most important thing to do in Englewood is to support home ownership by discouraging investors who gobble up vacant properties but have no intention of moving into the neighborhood.
“We need to increase the number of homeowners here because that’s where the change is going to happen at the block level,” Butler said. “I’m living proof of that if you show you care and transform your house, then other neighbors will line up. But someone who owns a building that only collects rent doesn’t has no interest in seeing this community prosper.