A story in the Logan Square edition of DNA Info this weekend strongly questioned Ald. Roberto Maldonado’s stance on fighting gentrification along the 606 trail. Maldonado is in favor of legislation currently being drafted in the council that would make it costlier for developers to convert multi-family properties in the area into single-family properties—an attempt to fight the wave of gentrification that has moved more than 20,000 Latino families from the area over the past three years. But critics object to Maldonado’s stance on the grounds that he previously profited from this kind of development in Logan Square. This outrage is misguided and might interfere with legislation that might actually preserve affordable housing in the neighborhood.
The 606 trail opened in June of 2015 along the Bloomingdale Line, a train route that had stopped operations in the early 2000’s. Throughout its development and construction, area residents worried about the trail’s capacity to encourage more gentrification in the area. The story reports that Maldonado bought and sold profit near the 606 trail–at a profit of more than $300,000. However, the story presents this buying and selling as more nefarious than it might be in reality. As the story itself details, Maldonado was pushed to sell the property in the first place out of fears that he could be accused of conflicts of interest because he owned property in the area.
Additionally, although the property that Ald. Maldonado sold will be converted from multi-family housing to single-family housing, he is not ultimately responsible for what the new developers will do with the land. Hypocrisy in politics is ugly, but it’s ugliest when people propose something good and then do the opposite. As it stands, this legislation is an attempt to disincentivize converting multi-family homes into single-family homes. We shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, and I hope that the writers at DNAInfo (who I think do an amazing job in Chicago and the Logan Square area) lean way from sensational angles in their reporting until they hit on real corruption. I also hope that this misguided outrage doesn’t get in the way of this or any other initiative to preserve affordable housing in Logan Square.