Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood is one of the country’s most diverse, and has long been a home to immigrants from all over the world.
Much of the community is represented in the Chicago City Council by 33rd Ward Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, a self-described democratic socialist first elected in 2019.
Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, Rodriguez Sanchez says she’s been especially concerned about a recent uptick in gun violence in the neighborhood, as well as ongoing threats to housing stability.
“We know that Albany Park is a place that is being gentrified, and we are experiencing a lot of displacement, particularly of Latinos and Latinx people in our ward,” she said. “I am very worried that by the end of this pandemic it might lead to displacement, because people don’t have jobs and can’t pay the rent. That it might lead to evictions, that it might lead to people losing their property because they can’t pay their mortgages.”
Rodriguez Sanchez says one option for relief is for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to lift the statewide ban on rent control in Illinois, which would then allow municipalities like Chicago to enact a rent freeze or similar legislation.
Pritzker has said repeatedly that any action on the issue is up to the legislature, and that he’s powerless to change a state law by himself.
But Rodriguez Sanchez says she believes under the current state of emergency in Illinois, the governor could lift the ban through an executive order.
“In these kind of moments, if you’re in charge, I think we have a responsibility to challenge what is possible, right? This is not a moment when we say, “Oh, I can’t do that,” Rodriguez Sanchez said. “No, we need to find a way to do it. Because it’s an emergency. This is one of those moments when you push for something that can potentially save a lot of people from becoming homeless, that can save families from losing their properties, that can save the displacement of undocumented people.”