New meaning to “empty nest”

The news: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart ended his monthlong moratorium on mortgage foreclosure evictions after pressure to enforce judges’ orders.

Behind the news: The rate of empty homes and apartments in the Chicago metro area is more than double that of New York and Los Angeles, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Postal Service, which The Chicago Reporter analyzed. Chicago has the sixth-highest vacancy rate of 29 large U.S. metro areas.In metro Chicago, 4.2 percent of homes and apartments were empty compared with 1.6 percent in Los Angeles and 1.7 percent in New York as of September. In fact, Chicago’s vacancy rate was just slightly lower than that of Miami, one of the cities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.

HUD research analyst Robert Renner says many factors are to blame. First, New York and Los Angeles have much tighter rental markets than Chicago, which has twice the rate of apartments sitting empty. In addition, the housing crisis may have hit Chicago with more force. “Chicago has a higher rate of foreclosure–”about 10 times as many as New York City–”and significantly more abandonment,” he said.

When you drill down to Chicago neighborhoods, many have been hit far worse than others. And there’s one in particular where more than one in every three residential properties is empty. Which are the worst? Riverdale tops the list at 34.6 percent. Hundreds of units still sit empty at the Altgeld Gardens housing project. Riverdale is followed by Fuller Park, South Chicago, Englewood and New City. Every neighborhood in the top 25 for vacancy rate is located on the South or West sides.

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