Little Village is the principal port-of-entry for Mexican immigrants to the Midwest, and is commonly known as La Villita. Little Village residents are 83% Latinx/e, 77% Mexican/Mexican American, 12% African American and 38% foreign born. The community has a rich history of activism, as well as cross-sector planning and collaboration, and many amenities that are a direct result. These include schools, parks, gardens, healthcare providers, community organizations and murals.

 

Little Village roughly shares the boundaries of the Chicago Community Area of South Lawndale, located west of Western Avenue, east of Cicero Avenue, north of I55 and south of the BNSF train line. It is one of the densest communities in Chicago, with a population of over 72,000. This adds to the community’s vibrancy and prosperity and leaves relatively few housing or commercial vacancies.

 

However, high density also leads to crowding within housing structures, individual households and schools, and limits opportunities for new construction and development of green space. Little Village has a very young population, with 30% of residents under the age of 20 and 7% under five, and this creates a particularly high demand for schools, parks and services. The neighborhood has also been a center for industrial development, which has left a legacy of contamination and further limited access to safe green space.

 

Little Village has a thriving local business district, as 26th Street is the second highest tax-generating district in the city after the Magnificent Mile. More than 1,800 employers in Little Village create 30,000 jobs in the neighborhood trade area. However, the per capita income for Little Village residents is $12,771, about a third of the city average, and 28% of residents live below the poverty level, compared to 18% citywide.

 

Twenty-seven percent of Little Village residents are not U.S. citizens and a large percentage of these are undocumented. Immigration reform is a huge focus for local residents and stakeholders, as documentation status can limit access to resources and rights. For example, Little Village has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the city, or 38% of residents between 18 and 64 years of age, compared to 13% citywide.

 

Educational attainment in Little Village has been consistently improving over the years. While only 55% of residents 25 and older have a high school diploma or its equivalent and only 24% have college experience, these figures have increased from 40% and 17% in 2010, respectively. Neighborhood high schools have also seen a steady rise in graduation rates.

 

Little Village is represented by the following local elected officials:

  • Michael D. Rodriguez, 22nd Ward Alderman

  • George A. Cardenas, 12th Ward Alderman

  • Michael Scott Jr., 24th Ward Alderman

  • Edgar Gonzalez, Jr., 21st District State Representative

  • Elizabeth “Liz” Hernandez, 24th District State Representative

  • Celina Villanueva, 11th District State Senator

  • Stephen M. Landek, 12th District State Senator

  • Alma Anaya, 7th District Cook County Commissioner

  • Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, 4th District U.S. Representative

 

Population level data is from American Community Survey 2015-2019 5-year Estimates. Thank you to Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and Rob Paral and Associates for supporting with data analysis.

LITTLE VILLAGE TODAY