A couple weeks ago, after a few adult beverages I might add, my mom and I were kicking around the idea of buying a two flat in Chicago. I’d live on one floor and rent out the other floor (until my parents retire and want to live in Chicago for a year, an item on my mom’s bucket list). So the next day, I was surfing around Zillow, seeing what could potentially be in our price range. Now, to get a multi-family unit in the neighborhood I currently live in (North Center, or a neighborhood nearby), one that doesn’t need significant work, looks to cost more than $650K. NOT in our budget.
I emailed my mom a few links to places just to give her an idea of what’s out there. And she gets back to me with this listing: a $45,000 6 bed, 2 bath. Now the only problem is it’s in Woodlawn. I immediately wrote it off as being in the ‘hood and some place I could never live. Well, weeks later now, I read this “The Death and Life of Chicago” (a bit dramatic, no?) article in the Times magazine, and I was kind of re-inspired to look into the area. Turns out, it’s just south of the University of Chicago (they built new dorms nearby recently) and the area is being rapidly gentrified. (To give you some perspective, Obama’s house is at 51st and Greenwood and this is 61st and Lawrence, just under 2 miles away.)
So maybe it’s an investment property?
Anywho, the real “aha” moment for me was just realizing that I’ve been naive in thinking that I know Chicago and it’s neighborhoods. I just know a sliver of the North Side. Granted, I should probably read up on some of these neighborhoods before I randomly pick an L stop and get off to explore, but still. Lesson learned.
While the article is a bit long (nine pages… it took me a couple days, not gonna lie), I thought it was really interesting to read about just how unevenly the foreclosure crisis has hit Chicago, what’s happening to these homes and how they could be utilized to house the city’s homeless. Here’s a teaser:
Last spring, a nine-month study conducted by the National Fair Housing Alliance revealed what everyone in these neighborhoods already knew: After forcing out families in foreclosure, banks failed to properly market, maintain and secure the vacated homes. Thieves subsequently entered many of the properties and stripped them of copper and anything else that could be trafficked. J. R. couldn’t reconcile the idea that homes were being allowed to turn into wrecks with the fact that the city had a shortage of 120,000 units of affordable housing and some 100,000 people sleeping in shelters or on the street each year. Chicago didn’t have just a housing crisis, he offered, it had a moral crisis.
Click here to read the entire article.