Census Releases Housing Vacancies Stats for Chicagoland Areas

The Census Bureau released the “Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics” for Illinois last week, which included information and stats that reveal which Chicagoland areas were hit the hardest by foreclosures.

The stats, as reported in the Courier-News, reveal that Chicago’s south suburbs and the central city were hit the hardest. In Elgin, vacancies in all types of housing had more than doubled since the 2000 census, from 3.43 percent to 7.28 percent. However, the census also revealed that Elgin homes and condos that were for sale or occupied by their owners were much less likely to be vacant (3.5 percent) than homes and apartments that were offered for rent (7.6 percent). Carpentersville’s vacancy rate also doubled over the last 10 years, from 2.64 percent in 2000 to 6.31 percent last year, which is just lower than Elgin’s rate.

Despite having three uncompleted housing developments whose unfinished parts have been seized by banks, Hampshire maintained a relatively low vacancy rate — 3.99 percent, barely up from the 3.43 percent it had a decade ago. According to the Courier-News, this news shows construction had not yet begun on most of the lots in the unfinished developments and the fact that very little of the new Hampshire housing is “for rent,” which tends to have higher vacancy rates.

South Elgin has fared better than all four of those towns. Though its vacancy rate more than doubled in the decade, it was lower than the other towns in 2000 — just 1.63 percent — and remained lower during the new census — 3.81 percent. In addition, even with several new construction projects during the decade, Gilberts has an unusually low level of vacancies — just 3.4 percent. Chicago’s south suburbs were hit harder, where the jumps in vacancy percentages were likely were driven by foreclosures, and hit hardest in poor minority areas targeted by predatory lenders.

According to an analysis of the new figures by the Chicago Sun-Times, eight of the 10 fastest increases in vacancy rate in the six-county area occurred in mostly African-American towns south of Chicago.

Ford Heights led that list with a vacancy rate that exploded from 3.4 percent in 2000 to 15.3 percent last year — more than one out of every six homes or apartments. In Ford Heights, 44 of the 131 vacancies were listed by the census as for rent or for sale. The rest were in the “other” category, likely indicating foreclosure.

However, Lincolnshire, a well-off enclave in the north suburbs, and Highwood, a middle-class community on the North Shore, also were among the top 10 towns with vacancy increases.

Chicago was farther down the list. Vacancies in the central city increased 4.6 percentage points to 12.5 percent, almost twice as high as any city or village in the Elgin-Hampshire area.

Evanston, Oak Park and Lake Forest were among wealthier towns that had 4- to 6-percentage-point vacancy rate increases.

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