Understanding Displacement Pressure for Community Assets: Results from the Connect Chicago Innovation Program

Report by Geoff Smith, Andres Alvear, Sarah Duda
July 2020

Institute for Housing Studies   (Chicago)

The displacement of vulnerable populations and community institutions has been an ongoing issue in cities and has only grown in significance in recent years. While much attention is paid to the ways displacement pressures impact housing, other types of neighborhood institutions can be affected by similar pressures. Communities struggling to develop strategies to support these institutions lack data on neighborhood businesses and, more critically, existing data can overlook key neighborhood institutions and assets that are essential to the cultural fabric and health of a community, such as places of worship, community centers, and health clinics.

In an effort to bridge these data and information gaps, the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University (IHS) and MAPSCorps piloted an innovative collaboration to develop a roadmap to create new data and tools to support community engagement strategies and policy development around the preservation of community assets in Chicago neighborhoods. Funded by the City Tech Connect Chicago Innovation Program, IHS and MAPSCorps engaged community stakeholders to develop basic indicators and a prototype web-based data visualization that overlays market pressures and the mix of a neighborhood's business and organizational assets.

As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts neighborhoods across Chicago, the insecurity of neighborhood institutions and businesses is growing as shelter-in-place orders affect the ability of businesses to generate revenue and directly serve their constituents. A hyper-local focus on businesses that may be more vulnerable in the current crisis and the ways in which that vulnerability builds on existing neighborhood pressures is essential to understand potential community economic and health impact and to inform recovery efforts.

In 2020, IHS will continue to work with Elevated Chicago partners to understand potential applications of these data indicators and the IHS/MAPSCorps prototype tool. Based on stakeholder input, IHS and MAPSCorps will explore opportunities to refine a data pipeline and update data indicators and the visualization tool to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on community assets and to support post-COVID-19 neighborhood revitalization.