In cities across the US, development pressures are causing a broadening income gap. Not only are working-class families unable to afford city life, but the idea of providing affordable housing is becoming an afterthought. The issue of affordability can have far-reaching impacts on cities. High housing costs can make low-cost labor scarcer and increase demands on transportation systems. As middle-income workers abandon the city center to find an affordable place to live, they encourage suburban sprawl and land development practices that are auto-dependent and unsustainable.
In Chicago, we are working to reverse these trends. Gensler’s master plan for the Woodlawn community, one of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods, reimagines more than 130 acres of blighted land and calls for redevelopment around three existing public transit stations and the neighborhood’s primary thoroughfares.