Chicago’s Latino Communities: Diverse, Growing

by * CMW Staff

May 2005

With a long and rich history in the Chicago area, Latinos are now transforming the entire look and feel of the city and region, and seem increasingly ready to grasp real influence over politics, culture, and the economy.

Chicago’s Latino population is more diverse than that of any other American city. Lured by jobs and longstanding immigrant-entry communities, Chicago’s Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the area. From 1980 to 2000, Chicago’s Latino population increased 79 percent to 753,644, and Cook County’s surged 115 percent.

According to the 2000 Census, Latinos now represent about 26% of the city’s population and 12.5 percent of the suburbs. The two largest Latino-origin groups are Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, and the city has drawn small populations from most Central and South American countries. Mexicans have grown to comprise 75 percent of the Latino population, and Puerto Ricans 11 percent.

Hispanics arrived in Chicago early in the century, with about 1,000 Mexicans counted in 1910. Major growth has continued unabated since the 1960s. The area now has the largest Mexican population in the U.S. outside the Southwest. Mexicans have the lowest educational attainment of any Latino group, while Puerto Ricans have lowest economic status. Central and South American Latinos are most likely to be immigrants.

Latinos live in distinct neighborhoods but are branching out to others. On the lower southwest side, Pilsen has been the traditional port of entry for Mexican immigrants for nearly 50 years. Further southwest is Little Village or “La Villita,” the city’s largest Mexican-American neighborhood. The huge influx of Mexican immigrants during the 1990′s has brought shops, restaurants, and street festivals that reverberate with Spanish to the Northwest and Southwest Sides, which until recently heard mostly Polish and English. Puerto Ricans have settled on the Near Northwest Side, along Division Street in Humboldt Park, especially since being pushed out of Lincoln Park by gentrification in the 1960s and ’70s. Latinos are now moving further northwest and southwest, to neighborhoods like Belmont-Cragin and the area east of Midway Airport. Other Latino areas are the Southeast Side, where Mexicans settled near now-defunct steel mills, and Back of the Yards and Logan Square.

Many Latinos no longer use Chicago as a port of entry, instead immigrating directly to the suburbs. The number of Latinos in suburban Chicago grew from 291,053 in 1990 to 651,473 in 2000. Cicero, once an enclave of Italians and East Europeans, went from 37% Latino in 1990 to 77% ten years later. The Latino upsurge has frequently led to conflicts between municipalities and the new arrivals. Many towns have sought to restrict the number of occupants living in houses, a slap aimed at Latinos’ large families. In 2002, the city of Elgin agreed to a settlement following a federal investigation into claims that city housing inspectors were applying tougher standards when inspecting Latino homes.

A major new resource on Latinos in Chicago is the Metropolitan Chicago Initiative of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame. A major new resource on Latinos in Chicago is the Metropolitan Chicago Initiative of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame. The Initiative has produced studies charting school segregation and the minority education gap, Mexican women in Chicago, needs assessments of suburban Latinos, and labor and youth issues, among other topics. Their 2005 “State of Latino Chicago” report shows Latinos to be the largest ethnic minority in the region, with suburban Latinos now outnumbering those in Chicago. Latino economic clout in metropolitan Chicago — $20 billion in 2003 — equals the GDP of Panama, and Latino-owned businesses have revived several declining commercial areas. Two thirds of the area’s Latinos are citizens and over half of Latino households are owner-occupied. While exhibiting many characteristics of earlier immigrant populations, today’s Latinos face an information-based economy that makes advancement more difficult. Education is a key issue for the Chicago area’s Latinos. And family is key for economic security, with low-wage workers combining earnings to purchase homes and enjoy a higher standard of living.

What follows is a Latino Media Resource List including groups that have a Latino focus or Latino leadership, compiled in March 2005. Thanks to the ad-hoc committee that compiled the list: Rey Flores of “Hoy” newspaper, Luis Gutierrez of Latinos Progresando, Alejandra Ibanez of Pilsen Alliance, Ambar Mentor of Valerie Denney Communications, Sylvia Puente of the Metropolitan Chicago Initiative, Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, and Cesar Romero of the Consulate General of Mexico. (For more information contact Luis Gutierrez, Latinos Progresando, 312-850-0572.)

ARTS & CULTURE

Segundo Ruiz Belvis Puerto Rican Cultural Center
Mervin Mendez, Director, 773- 235-3988
Email: info@ruizbelvis.orf
Website: www.ruizbelvis.org

AfriCaribe
Tito Rodriguez, Artistic Director, 773-879-2123
Email: titorodriguez@netscape.net
Website: Africaribe.net

Mexican Fine Arts Museum
Carlos Tortolero, Executive Director, 312-738-1503
Website: www.mfacmchicago.org

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Little Village Community Development Corporation
Jesus Garcia, Executive Director, 773-542-9233
Email: lcvdc1@ameritech.net

Pilsen Alliance
Alejandra Ibanez, Executive Director, 312-243-5440
Email: alibanez@sbcglobal.net
Website: www.neiu.edu/~casaaztl/Programs.htm

United Neighborhood Organization
Juan Rangel, Executive Director, 312-432-6301
Website: www.uno-online.org

DEMOGRAPHICS

Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame
Sylvia Puente, Metropolitan Chicago Initiative, 708-788-6109
Email: spuente@nd.edu
Website: www.nd.edu/~latino

DISABILITIES

The Hispanic with Disabilities Support Group
Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital
Ramon Canellada, Disability Resource Coordinator, 773-522-5885
Email: canra@sinai.org

Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
Marca Bristo, President and CEO, 312-253-7000
TTY: (312) 253-7002
Email: generalinfo@accessliving.org
Website: www.accessliving.org

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Mujeres Latinas en Acción
Maria S. Pesqueria, President, 312-226-1544
Email: maria@mujereslat.org
Website: www.mujereslat.org

EDUCATION

FUERZA
Mike Rodriguez, President, 773-793-0880
Email: mrodriguez@FUERZA.org
Website: www.fuerza.org

Instituto Del Progreso Latino
Juan Salgado, Executive Director, 773-890-0055
Email: juan@idpl.org

Columbia College Chicago
Ana Maria Soto, Director, Latino Cultural Affairs, 312-663-1600 x7812
Email: asoto@popmail.colum.edu

Parents United for Responsible Education
Ismael Vargas, Assistant Director, 312-461-1994
Website: www.pureparents.org

Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame
Marta Zurita, Senior Research Analyst, 708-788-6109
Email: zurita.1@nd.edu
Website: www.nd.edu~latino

ECONOMY / FINANCE

UIC Center for Urban Economic Development
Sandra Morales, 312-996-5689
Email: smoral2@uic.edu
Website: www.uic.edu/cuppa/uicued/

Mexican American Chamber of Commerce
Juan Ochoa, President, 312-554-0844

Little Village Chamber of Commerce
Martha de la Vega, Executive Director, 773-521-5387
Email: Info@lavillitachamber.com
Website: www.lavillitachamber.com

National Council of La Raza
Midwest Regional Office, 312-269-9250
Email: chicago@nclr.org
Website: www.nclr.org/

Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce
Jose Allende, President, 773-486-1331
Email: allende@prcci.com
Website: www.prcci.com

EMPLOYMENT

Spanish Coalition for Jobs
Mary Gonzalez-Koenig, President, CEO and Founder, 312-247-0707
Website: www.sci-usa.org

Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement
Ramiro Marquez, Executive Director, 312) 435-0498
Email: ramiro@hace-usa.org

Rose Bombela-Tobias, Co-Author, “The Complete Job Search Guide for Latinos,” 312-666-2514
Email: rosemary@jobsearchguideforlatinos.com

FAITH-BASED ISSUES

Center for the Study of Latino Religion
Institute for Latino Studies
University of Notre Dame
Edwin Hernandez, Director, 574-631-8558
Email: Hernandez.77@nd.edu

Good Shepard Catholic Church
Father Marco Mercado, 773-762-2322

Office for Peace and Justice
Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago
Elena Segura, Program Director, 312-751-5333

FAMILY ISSUES

Erie Neighborhood House
Ric Estrada, Executive Director, 312-563-5800
Website: www.eriehouse.org

DePaul University School of Education
Layla Suleiman, 773-325-4676
Email: lsuleima@depaul.edu
Website: www.education.depaul.edu

Loyola University Department of Social Work
Maria Vidal de Haymes, 312-915-7020
Email: mvidal@luc.edu
Website: www.luc.edu/socialwork

GAY & LESBIAN ISSUES

Amigas Latinas
Evette Cardona, Co-Director, 312-409-5697
Website: www.amigaslatinas.org

Project VIDA
773-522-4570
Website: www.projectvida.org

Association of Latin Men for Accion
Julio Rodriguez, President, 773-929-7688
Website: www.almachicago.org

HEALTH

Alivio Medical Center
Carmen Velasquez, Executive Director, 312-829-6304
Email: cvelasquez@aliviomedical.org
www.aliviomedical.org

Midwest Latino Health Research Training and Policy Center
Jane Addams College of Social Work
University of Illinois at Chicago
Aida Giachello, Associate Professor and Director, 312-413-1952 or 312-413-7409
Email: aida@uic.edu
Website: www.uic.edu/jaddams/mlhrc/mlhrc.html

Pilsen-Little Village Community Mental Health Center
Francisco Cisneros, Executive Director, 773-579-0832
Website: www.pilsenmh.org

Circle Family Health Care Clinic
Dr. Mercedes Martinez, Psychiatrist, 773-921-8100 ext. 4968
Email: reinaxochil@aol.com

HISTORY

Mexican and Caribbean Studies
Northeastern Illinois University
Victor Ortiz, Coordinator, 773-583-4255
Email: v-ortiz@neiu.edu

Center for Latino Research
DePaul University
Felix Masud-Piloto, Director, 773-325-7472 ph
Email: fmasud-p@depaul.edu
Website: http://condor.depaul.edu/~dialogo/

HOUSING

Latinos United
Juanita Irizarry-Martinez, Executive Director, 312-782-7500
Email: jirizarry@latinosunited.org

The Resurrection Project
Raul Raymundo, Executive Director, 312-666-1323
Email: rraymundo@resurrectionproject.org
Website: www.resurrectionproject.org

Hispanic Housing Development Corporation
Hipolito Roldan, President, 312-443-1360
Email: proldan@hhdevcorp.com

HOMELESSNESS / HUNGER

San Lucas UCC Church
Carmen Flores-Race, 773-227-5747
Fax: (773) 227-6787

San Jose Obrero Mission
Rev. David P. Crump, Executive Director, 312-243-4347

Greater Chicago Food Depository
Angel LaLuz, Director, 773-843.2609
Email: allaluz@gcfd.org

IMMIGRATION

Latinos Progresando
Luis Gutierrez, Executive Director, 312-850-0572
Email: luis@latinospro.org

Consulate General of Mexico
Cesar Romero, 312-491-8969
Email: cesar63@cs.com

Centro Romero
Daysi Funes, Executive Director, 773-508-5300

Maricela Garcia, Independent Immigration Policy Analyst
Email: maricelagarcia@mindspring.com

LABOR ISSUES

Latino Union of Chicago
Jessica Aranda, Executive Director, 773-588-2641

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1546
Jorge Ramirez, Executive Director, 312-733-2999

Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues
Jose Oliva, 773-728-8400
Email: joliva@nicwj.org
Website: www.chicagointerfaith.org

LEGAL ISSUES / CIVIL RIGHTS (NON-IMMIGRATION)

Hispanic Lawyers Guild
Chicago Bar Association
Karina Ayala-Bermejo, 312-554-1206
Email: kayala@chicagobar.org
www.chicagobar.org

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Maria Valdez, Regional Counsel, 312-782-1422
Email: mvaldez@maldef.org
www.maldef.org

POLITICAL & CIVIC PARTICIPATION

DePaul University Department of Political Science
Maria de los Angeles Torres, 773-325-1984
Email: mtorres@depaul.edu
Website: http://condor.depaul.edu/~psc/

Project LEAD
Steven Avalos, Executive Director, 312-243-5323
Email: savalos@project-lead.org

WOMEN’S ISSUES

Mujeres Latinas en Acción
Maria S. Pesqueria, President, 312-226-1544
Email: maria@mujereslat.org
Website: www.mujereslatinasenaccion.org

MANA de Chicago Chapter
Diana Derige, MPH, Chair, 312-814-8854
Email: dderige@manachicago.org
Website: www.manachicago.org

YOUTH

Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development
Freddy Calixto, Executive Director, 773-227-2880
Website: www.buildchicago.org

Big Picture High School
Alfredo Nambo, Principal, 773-535-9219
Email: anambo@cps.k12.il.us

Latino Youth
Carmen Aviles, Executive Director, 773-277-0400

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
Antonio Ortiz, Associate Principal, 773-890-6835
Email: aortiz@cristorey.net
Website: www.cristorey.net


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