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 81% Latinx/e, 75% Mexican/Mexican American, 13% African American and 37% 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 71,000. This adds to the community’s vibrancy and prosperity and leaves relatively few housing or commercial vacancies;  11% of housing is vacant, which is equivalent to the city as a whole.

 

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 is a young community, with a median age of 32.4 versus 34.8 for the city as a whole, 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, per capita income is $14,234, about a third of the city average, and 24% of residents live below the poverty level, compared to 17% citywide; this includes 35% of residents under 18 and 28% under five. The unemployment rate in Little Village has typically been at or below the city’s; this is reflective of the fact that many adults in Little Village are working, but earn below what could be considered a living wage.

 

Twenty-four 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 34% 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 59% of residents 25 and older have a high school diploma or its equivalent, 26% have college experience and 11% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, these figures have increased from 41%, 16% and 5% 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

  • Monique L. Scott, 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 2016-2020 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