ABOUT WE ARE / SOMOS LOGAN SQUARE
Who We Are:
We are a community organization of current and former residents of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. We organize for affordable housing, and against evictions, rising rents and developments that are imposed without taking the community’s voice into account. We are opposed to the negative impacts of gentrification. We believe that housing is a human right, that everyone deserves a home, and that development should be driven by the community.
How did we start?
In winter 2013-14, one of the coldest in Chicago history, the real estate and property management group M. Fishman evicted 200+ residents from their newly acquired apartment buildings, including numerous single-parent families, elderly people, people on fixed incomes, and working-class people. During that fight, tenants joined with neighbors and allies to form We Are / Somos Logan Square. Tenants who felt empowered by the victory joined with neighbors and allies to form We Are / Somos Logan Square.
What do we do?
The trend of evicting tenants and dramatic rent increases continues to happen in Logan Square and all across Chicago. We believe in being on the front lines of fighting gentrification.
Gentrification is created by the economic system that we live in — but we can change that system through our actions. Here is a little how we think that looks:
- Bring attention to displacement through actions, protests, media coverage and education.
- Begin conversations with developers to gain their support for housing that is affordable to Logan Square’s current residents. Our hope is to have developers agree to Community Benefits Agreements that are beneficial to everyone.
- Influence policy & legislation on housing issues, from local ordinances to state legislation.
- Working in coalition with other groups, eventually creating a city-wide alliance around housing affordability.
- Turning ideas into actions. We are inspired but what others do, but we are not afraid to try new strategies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is affordable housing?
Housing is considered affordable when a family pays 30% or less of their income toward housing. Residents paying more than 30% of their income toward housing are considered ‘cost burdened’, and often have difficulty paying for food, transportation, medical care and other necessities. These guidelines were developed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
What is the status of the group?
We are a grassroots group and hold no incorporation. Currently, we are considering if incorporation is necessary or important to our work.
Who are your leaders?
A Leadership Committee meets monthly to make major decisions for the group. There are no specific titles, nor is the leadership limited to any specific number of members. We believe that everyone can be a leader.
What is a Community Benefits Agreement?
A Community Benefits Agreement is an agreement between a community and developer proposing a particular project. The creation of a benefits agreement is led by a coalition of community organizations that represent those affected by a proposed development. In a typical agreement, community members agree not to oppose or derail the project. In return, the developer agrees to provide to the community benefits such as assurances of local jobs, affordable housing and environmental improvements.
Community benefits agreements are a relatively new phenomenon. We are excited to use this tool with developers in the Logan Square area, and hopefully, across other Chicago neighborhoods.