Fellows across University of Chicago schools, disciplines, and departments write about cities & housing

Is Affordable Housing Becoming Unaffordable to Build and Sustain? The Impact of Insurance Premiums on Affordable Housing Projects

Francesca Chicoine, MPP ’24, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

As housing prices and the cost of living increase across the United States, affordable housing projects are at risk from not having the financing to fill the gaps due to rising costs. The situation has only worsened over the past four years, with another critical factor looming large – insurance premiums. There is an urgent need to address this issue through state emergency funds and government-backed insurance to ensure multi-family housing continues to be built and operated.

LaSalle Reimagined, a Triumphant Return to our Great Urban Centers

Daniel Grinspan, MPP ’24, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

Following the 2020 pandemic, the City of Chicago has experienced a record-high office vacancy rate. Beyond the “9-5”, the transition to remote work has eliminated any commute for many professionals who lived in the Loop, incentivizing them to migrate elsewhere in the City, outside Downtown. While this phenomenon may be viewed in a negative light as a loss in assets, transitions in generational housing needs and desires may bring more opportunity to the Loop than loss. LaSalle Street Reimagined leads the charge in Downtown Chicago, where nearly 2.3 million square feet of vacant office buildings will be converted into mixed uses of residences and retail.

Chicago’s ADU Ordinance: Where Are ADUs Being Built and Who Benefits?

Max Wagner, MPP ’24, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

Chicago’s Additional Dwelling Unit Ordinance, passed in December 2020, streamlined zoning requirements for basement and attic apartment conversion projects and legalized the construction of backyard coach houses. The program was designed with a housing affordability lens, and former Mayor Lori Lightfoot has praised the affordability requirement as “a major step forward in our ongoing work to support our most vulnerable residents.” Now that the reforms have been in place for nearly three years, is there evidence that ADUs are truly providing affordable housing options for the Chicago’s most vulnerable residents?

AI is Making Housing Discrimination Easier Than Ever Before

Danya Sherbini, MPP ’24, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

Many parts of society are becoming increasingly technology-driven, and housing is no different. There is a plethora of new companies using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that aim to modernize the housing industry. Yet, the proliferation of algorithmic decision-making in housing poses a big risk: encoding historic and systemic biases that further marginalize against low-income individuals and people of color.

Do We Need An Insurer of Last Resort?

Elias van Emmerick, JD ’25, University of Chicago Law School

Global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events significantly in recent history, causing significant property damage. These costs are not evenly distributed across geographies. As home insurance companies announce they are ending operations in the states most impacted by the increased risks of natural disasters, governments have become insurers of last resort. However, these publicly funded plans create perverse incentives for homeowners to settle in zones that we know will become increasingly uninhabitable.

Locked Out and Left Behind: The Housing Crisis for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

Toyan “TJ” Harper, PhD candidate, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Imagine stepping out of prison, your time served, ready to start afresh. But the world outside isn’t so welcoming. With only $50 in your pocket—often the average amount of gate money provided post-release—and no friends or family in the vicinity, you are left wondering what to do and where to go. This is the reality for many formerly incarcerated individuals, who face a daunting barrier: finding housing.

Chicago Voters to Decide on “Bring Chicago Home” Ordinance

Hannah Bernick, MPP ‘24, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

In this year’s spring election, Chicagoans will have the chance to vote on the Bring Chicago Home ordinance. The ordinance, which was passed by Chicago City Council in November of 2023 after years of advocacy by organizations like the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, aims to address homelessness in Chicago. If passed, it will provide a steady stream of funding for solutions that help people get housed permanently. Proponents of the measure say it’s a needed answer to help the 68,000 people in Chicago who are currently experiencing homelessness.  

You Could Get Out of Mexico, But Mexico Won’t Get Out of You

Arturo Sánchez Navarro, MPP ‘24, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

With migration to the United States from Latin America at record breaking levels, Mexico keeps standing as the top origin for migrants, particularly from the states of Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guanajuato; located in the center and north of the country. As of 2019, the predilect destinations for the community were the Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas metropolitan areas, hosting close to one third of all Mexican-born residents in the country. This trend of immigration to the Windy City dates back to the early 20th century, where socio-political turmoil during and after the Mexican Revolution led the population to seek better life conditions. To many, the American Dream meant a reassuring alternative within manageable distances, particularly for the northernmost states.


Hello and welcome to the Kreisman Housing Fellows Blog! We're a collective of researchers at the University of Chicago from across schools, disciplines, and departments devoted to all things housing. With housing standing at the forefront of nearly every urban...