Data and Research to Facilitate Equitable Homeownership in Chicago

Report by Geoff Smith, Sarah Duda, Jessie Wang, John Walsh, Gideon Berger, Marcela Montes
September 2021

Institute for Housing Studies   (Chicago)
Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)

In 2020, the Chicago Community Trust launched its Protecting and Advancing Equitable Homeownership initiative as part of its Growing Household Wealth strategy. The Trust convened Chicago housing experts, practitioners, and advocates to explore policies, strategies, and best practices to reduce existing homeownership gaps in the Chicago region.

As part of this initiative, the Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) and the Urban Institute developed data and analyses to support conversations among a cohort of eight organizations around strategies needed to expand access to homeownership and wealth-building opportunities for Black and Latinx households, protect current homeowners of color, and preserve the existing affordable housing stock in Chicago. These insights are summarized in Chicago Housing Overview: Preserving Affordability and Expanding Accessibility. The data are presented in four sections:

Racial and Ethnic Demographics. This section describes the city’s demographics, including the geographic distribution of residents and population and income trends. Despite roughly proportionate racial and ethnic representation citywide, communities of color remain highly concentrated in neighborhoods on the south and west sides of Chicago.

Pre-crisis and Post-crisis Housing Market Trends. The 2008 Great Recession had devastating impacts on Chicago homeowners, stripping significant home equity and pushing many households into foreclosure. Variation in the recession’s impact and the market recovery across neighborhoods amplified disparities in homeownership and wealth. This section tracks indicators from the recession into the recovery period and highlights how the crash changed Chicago’s housing landscape.

Recovery Drivers and Post-recession Impact. Chicago’s post-recession recovery has been slow and unequal, with home prices only recently returning to the pre-crisis peak in some communities. This section describes home price changes, by race and ethnicity, and shows how access to credit and buyer activity have changed since the recession.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This section provides insight into the impacts of the COVID-19 recession on housing instability by looking at homeowners in forbearance while highlighting how strong price growth in communities of color during the pandemic may help some struggling families avoid foreclosure.

The data and analyses in this report can serve as a resource for Chicago policymakers, practitioners, and advocates by providing local data to expand access to homeownership and incorporate racial equity into housing programs, practice, and policy.