Chicago Politics: Housing Equity

Housing is a fundamental human right that is essential for the well-being and dignity of all individuals. However, for many Black and Latino communities in Chicago, this basic right is often out of reach due to systemic inequalities and discrimination. As a result, many families are forced to live in substandard housing conditions or face homelessness.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who represents the 25th Ward and chairs the Committee on Housing and Real Estate. Since being elected in 2019, Sigcho-Lopez has made affordable housing a priority.

His administration says among their accomplishments are implementing and protecting over 800 affordable housing units, successfully fighting for a policy change that allows the City’s Low Income Housing Trust Fund to provide vouchers to undocumented residents, and pushing through a law that prohibits developers from harassing homeowners into selling their homes.

Alderman Sigcho-Lopez was front and center on Chicago Politics.

Historically, Black and Latino communities have faced barriers to accessing safe and affordable housing. Discriminatory practices such as redlining, which denied mortgage loans to people of color based on their race or ethnicity, have led to segregated neighborhoods with limited resources and opportunities. Alderman Sigcho-Lopez spoke about how to begin to right wrongs decades in the making.

“We need to have a strategy, and more than anything else we need to be intentional to recognize that housing is a human right,” he said. “We have 80,000 vacant units at the same time we have 69,000 people unhoused. It’s unconscionable and unacceptable.”

Late last year, Sigcho-Lopez was among the City Council leaders calling for more accountability from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) following an investigation by Block Club Chicago and the Illinois Answers Project over the agency’s hundreds of empty, deteriorating units.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th

“Promises were made. Public housing was torn down with the promise of being rebuilt. It is important to hold the CHA accountable,” he said. “We have a commitment (from Tracey Scott, CEO, CHA) to come twice a year (and meet with Chicago’s City Council. Sigcho-Lopez say it is his opinion that CHA has stopped creating public housing .

Sigcho-Lopez, an Ecuadorian immigrant, arrived in the United States 23 years ago and settled in Pilsen. He worked as an adult education teacher and founded the bilingual adult education program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Sigcho-Lopez became politically active after former Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the closure of a neighborhood public school, where Byron volunteered as a soccer coach and led the community’s efforts to keep that school open, which was ultimately successful. Byron later served as a director of the Pilsen Alliance, where he was a leader in the fight against gentrification and displacement, and co-founded the campaign to lift the ban on rent control in Illinois.

Alderman Sigcho-Lopez completed a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and Business Administration from Cumberland University and a Masters in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chicago Politics is co-produced by the Illinois Latino News (ILLN), an affiliate of the Latino News Network (LNN), and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community-centric news, hyperlocal stories, and educational resources.

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