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The Gross Gatherings: A climate fight on Chicago's South Side

WBEZ's Heat of the Moment

Burns got back in touch with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the organization that held that meeting she attended.

Together they started working on flooding issues in Chatham. They gathered data and learned that the Chatham area had the highest number of flooding insurance claims in the city. That sounds like bad news, but it also was kind of affirming for Burns, because she now had tangible proof of what a big problem Chatham was facing.

“We weren’t really understanding how endemic the problem was or how expansive,” she recalled. “There wasn’t this groundswell of activity to say, ‘Hey, this is ruining homes. Diminishing home values. And really demoralizing as a homeowner.’”

Armed with this information, Burns and CNT organized neighbors, people like Cheryl Watson, the woman at the start of this story.

CNT also helped Burns get a special back-up valve installed. These valves are expensive and a lot of people can’t afford them. But it’s a good fix for an individual home because it stops sewage from coming back through your pipes. Burns said it’s worked really well; she no longer gets nervous and rushes home during every storm.

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Stalled Out: How Empty Parking Spaces Diminish Neighborhood Affordability

CNT
March 25, 2016

Stalled Out: How Empty Parking Spaces Diminish Neighborhood Affordability explores the relationship between unused parking and neighborhood affordability. Many cities, including Chicago, mandate the minimum number of parking spaces new developments need to build. As the report points out, however, these minimum requirements don’t always reflect real demand.

For this study, we interviewed multifamily developers in Chicago and went to the parking lots and garages of 40 apartment buildings, both market-rate and subsidized, to see how much parking was being used. Researchers went at 4:00 a.m., when most tenants have parked their cars and are asleep in bed. Consistent with our findings in the San Francisco Bay AreaWashington, D.C.; and King County, Washington, the study found that:

  • The supply of parking exceeds demand. Buildings offered two spots for every three units. According to our analysis, they only used one for every three.
  • As parking supply goes up, much of it sits empty. Apartments with fewer spaces saw a greater percentage of their parking used.
  • Apartment buildings near frequent transit need less parking. Buildings within ten minutes of a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train stop provided one spot for every two units. Even then, one-third of the spots sat empty.

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