The real estate industry, apartments included, has been caught in a cycle of deep lows and massive highs for decades. It has weathered major catastrophes in 1980, 1990, 2001, 2009 and now in 2020 it must rebound again. The renters who enter the housing market this month will do so with a new set of questions for their prospective landlords. Renters who have weathered previous storms found their priorities shift in similar ways. Today we'll look at each of the four prior crises and how they shaped the qualities that renters looked for in a good landlord, and give some consideration as to how the COVID crisis will shape the job in turn. Continue reading Every 10 Years: How Crises Shape Our Perceptions of Good and Bad Landlords
Those who have been following me for some time know that I enjoy exploring the use of language as a way of interpreting changing views about rental housing. I've previously analyzed Twitter posts to find out what renters think of apartment hunting and landlords. I've also used an online corpus of published words to analyze the most common adjectives describing landlords and tenants in news articles, blogs and TV shows.
The good folks who maintain the English Corpora website have released a new database tracking words used in news articles related to COVID-19. Today I'll be using that new database to investigate how news coverage of evictions has changed since "Miss Rona" came to visit the world. Continue reading The Shifting Lens of News Coverage: Evictions Before and After Coronavirus
The current shelter-in-place orders have accelerated an already hostile situation in the rental housing industry from a rowdy standoff into an all-out war. While the buildings themselves might not be alight just yet, pretty much everything else within the realm of the rental housing industry is a massive dumpster fire at the moment. Campaigns to enact rent control, eliminate private ownership, organize renters and slow the recent rapid rise of rent rates nationwide were already in process before the shutdown. Now COVID has provided advocacy groups new levers in the form of shutdown-related unemployment and low income essential jobs to further their causes. Landlords also have some advocacy groups of their own which are fighting to maintain the status quo and preserve the value of their investments.
The opposing sides of this war are not likely to reach detente any time soon. Their inability to communicate without throwing around fighting words totally rules out any form of negotiation. Instead of progress in any direction, we wind up with laughable and utterly toothless efforts to combat the crisis such as the utterly unenforceable appeal to emotion that is the Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge.
If you follow any of the news about renting in Chicago you've probably heard about rent strikes, protests and campaigns to ban evictions and foreclosures until the end of shelter-in-place orders. You've probably seen the names of many different not-for-profits floating by within these articles without really pausing to think about who they are, what their angle is, or how they operate. Today we'll be looking at some of the groups who have become players in the fight for the control and cost of rental housing, whether out of action or merely by running their mouths on social media. Continue reading The Rent Control Rogues’ Gallery: A Guide to Chicago’s Non-Profit Rent Advocacy Groups
As Chicago residents head into another month of enforced thumb twiddling per the orders of the Governor, I am looking ahead and wondering how this event will shape the future of the city. As per usual, I turned to history for the answers.
There have been many epidemics that have shaped the development of modern civilization, from ancient diseases like smallpox and plague to modern ones like HIV and MERS. Today I'll be looking at five epidemics that had a lasting impact locally, from ones that changed our official boundaries to others that established less official borderlines between cultures. Continue reading The Epidemics That Created Chicago
It's time once again for U.S. residents to complete the decennial Census. "Decennial" means once every ten years. "Census" means a head count of every person living in the country. It's an incredibly important process that will affect all of our lives for the next ten years. As of the time of publication, only 42.9% of Chicago residents have completed their census forms, so today I wanted to provide a quiz to help you to understand the impact of this survey. Continue reading [QUIZ] The Importance of the Decennial Census