Pilsen Struggles with Gentrification

By Katie Gallegos

Daniel Gutierrez represents the face of Pilsen: a largely Hispanic neighborhood on the near South Side of Chicago.

“I have lived in Pilsen most of my life,”Gutierrez said. “There is nobody more Pilsen than me.”

Gutierrez, 42, the owner the local restaurant in Pilsen called Casa Del Pueblo, now sees lots of changes in the area.

“There is a great change in Pilsen as far as the diversity, there is a lot of young artsy people which is good because they are coming with new ideas,” he said.

While the diverse neighborhood is thriving, Gutierrez and many other locals are worried about the rise in taxes.

“It’s sad to see that when there is a hot spot like Pilsen being sought out, the city looks into that. Then all of a sudden they want to raise the prices on the property taxes and it becomes difficult for those people who have been here for many years to continue being here for many years,” he said.

The neighborhood, home to 44,000 people, is not only facing higher property taxes, but taxes on special services as well. Pilsen was pushed by the City of Chicago to pay for services such as security, garbage pickup, signage and beatification.

“ They tried to do a special service area for us which we adamantly declined…They charge us more taxes for services we should already be getting.” Enricha Garza, an agent at International Real Estate, said.

The community came together and opposed the taxation through social media, posters, petitions, and calls to the alderman.

A large amount of people in the neighborhood still don’t know that this is happening and all the community can do is try to get the word out.

As of now the City of Chicago has put the taxing on hold, but that does not mean they will not try it again.

“I think [the city is] going to repackage it and sell it different,” Garza said, “as long as we put the word out I think we have a very good chance of stopping [the tax push] again.”

Even with this constant back and forth between Pilsen and the City of Chicago, the residents of the area are not phased and continue to live in this loving family environment.

“We’re the next most economically advertising part of the city,” Garza said, “We’re an investment target.”

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