Characteristics of the 2 to 4 Stock in Chicago Neighborhoods

Report by Sarah Duda, Geoff Smith
May 2021

Institute for Housing Studies   (Chicago)

To inform ongoing policy conversations related to the preservation of 2 to 4 buildings in Chicago neighborhoods, this report updates key contextual data on the stock of 2 to 4s in Chicago, and includes new data on the characteristics of the stock, foreclosure impacts, and the importance of 2 to 4s in communities of color and for households of color. 

Key findings include:

  • 2 to 4 unit buildings represent a large portion of Chicago’s housing stock and have a substantial presence in some Chicago neighborhoods. 2 to 4s represent a mix of building materials and styles and are generally the oldest buildings in a community.
  • These buildings are a particularly important in Chicago's communities of color. Chicago’s Latinx and Black renters particularly rely on 2 to 4 unit buildings. These buildings are also frequently owner-occupied in majority Latinx communities. 
  • Rents in 2 to 4 unit buildings are typically more affordable than in other building types. Compared to other traditional multifamily rental buildings, units in 2 to 4s are more typically “family-sized” with a larger number of bedrooms. 
  • 2 to 4 unit properties were heavily impacted by the foreclosure crisis and Great Recession, particularly in predominately African American communities where rates of 2 to 4 property purchases by investors remains elevated.
  • Citywide, there is significant variation in sales prices and price levels generally have not yet recovered to pre-Great Recession levels. 


Due to the importance of the stock, the disappearance of these buildings in parts of the city due to market pressures, the lingering impacts of the foreclosure crisis, and potentially the COVID-19 economic downturn may have long-term impacts on housing affordability in Chicago.