Thinking of investing in Chicago South Side or Section 8 properties? Read this before you do.

Southside Chicago has it’s past glory and current woes.

A bit of history…

(thanks to Wikipedia)

With its factories, steel mills and meat-packing plants, the South Side saw a sustained period of immigration which began around the 1840s and continued through World War II. Irish, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian and Yugoslav immigrants, in particular, settled in neighborhoods adjacent to industrial zones. After the Civil War freed millions of slaves, during Reconstruction black southerners migrated to Chicago and caused the black population to nearly quadruple from 4,000 to 15,000 between 1870 and 1890.

In the 20th century, the numbers expanded with the Great Migration, as blacks left the agrarian South seeking a better future in the industrial North, including the South Side. By 1910 the black population in Chicago reached 40,000, with 78% residing in the Black Belt. As more blacks moved into the South Side, descendants of earlier immigrants, such as ethnic Irish, began to move out. Later housing pressures and civic unrest caused more whites to leave the area and the city.

In the early 1960s, during the tenure of then Mayor Richard J. Daley, the construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway created controversy. Many perceived the highway’s location as an intentional physical barrier between white and black neighborhoods, particularly as the Dan Ryan divided Daley’s own neighborhood, the traditionally Irish Bridgeport, from Bronzeville.

The economic conditions that led to migration into the South Side were not sustained. Mid-century industrial restructuring in meat packing and the steel industry cost many jobs. Blacks who became educated and achieved middle-class jobs also left after the Civil Rights Movement opened more neighborhoods to them. The South Side lost population, leaving a concentration of poor families. Many of its businesses and cultural amenities departed.

The United States Congress passed the Housing Act of 1949 to fund public housing to improve housing for the disadvantaged. Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) produced a plan of citywide projects, which was rejected by some of the Chicago City Council’s white aldermen who opposed public housing in their wards. This led to a CHA policy of construction of family housing in black residential areas, concentrated on the South and West Sides.

The rest, as they say, is history…

Current woes — and opportunities

South Side Chicago gets a bad rap, and is viewed as crime-ridden, prone to property vandalism, and unsafe for most citizens (according to North Chicagoans, and rest of the country). However, beneath the negative perspectives lies a true investment gem — and a great fun place.

South Side properties are undervalued than their other [notorious] cousins’ own versions of South Side — be it New York, Los Angeles, Miami or Houston. For an investment of anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000, one can expect to fetch a gross rent from $1200 to $2200 a month easily. Yes, vandalism occurs. Yes, crime is rampant. But those can be managed easily through… [drum roll], a property management company. A great property management company can keep you insulated, sane, and happy. It takes care of rent collection, tenant issues and complaints (broken bulbs, clogged toilets, leaking faucets, and more), and ensures that your investment remains protected.

The basics of renting via Section 8 / CHA

  1. Buy a property in a great neighborhood within South Side for the right price. Pay special attention to geography and proximity. One block sometimes makes a great difference — and several thousands of dollars in price difference.
  2. Identify a tenant with CHA approved voucher. Screen for background, criminal and eviction history.
  3. File papers with CHA for tenancy and property registration.
  4. Once CHA schedules and passes the property inspection, move the tenant in.
  5. Get paid on the 1st of every month via direct deposit by CHA. Take care of your tenants, and they will take care of your property (works mostly with some exceptions).
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