Little Village Today
Little Village is the principal port-of-entry for Mexican immigrants to the Midwest, and is commonly known as La Villita. Its residents are 84% Latino, 77% Mexican/Mexican American, 12% African American and 39% foreign born. The mix of multiple generations of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, other Latinos and African Americans living, working and shopping together creates a unique culture that blends traditions.
Little Village, which roughly shares the boundaries of the Chicago Community Area of South Lawndale, is located east of Western Avenue, west 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 almost 75,000 and about 17,000 residents per square mile. This adds to the community’s vibrancy and prosperity, especially in the service and business sectors, and leaves relatively few housing or commercial vacancies. However, high density leads to crowding within housing structures, individual households and schools, and limits opportunities for new construction and development of green space. Little Village also has a very young population, with 29% of the community under the age of 18 and 8% under five. The young population creates a high demand for schools, services and park space.
Educational attainment in Little Village has been improving over recent years. While only 51% of residents 25 and older have a high school diploma or its equivalent and only 22% have college experience, these figures have increased from 40% and 17% in 2010, respectively.
Little Village has a thriving local business district, 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 about a third of the city average, and 34% of residents live below the poverty level, compared to 21% citywide.
Twenty-nine percent of Little Village residents are not U.S. citizens and an estimated 25% 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 44% of residents between 18 and 64 years of age, compared to 18% citywide.
The community has a high density of community resources, including health clinics, nonprofits and schools. It also has a rich history of local activism and many community amenities that are a direct result. Little Village’s non-profit and community development community has a long history of cross-community and cross-sector planning and collaboration that has led to impressive progress. Enlace and many community partners have contributed to a downward trend in yearly homicides**, and an elevation of eight neighborhood elementary schools and three high schools to the Chicago Public Schools Level 1 or Level 1+ rating.***
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
Celina Villanueva, 21st District State Representative
Elizabeth “Liz” Hernandez, 24th District State Representative
Vacant, 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: American Community Survey 2013-2017 5-year Estimates
*Illinois’ Undocumented Immigrant Population: A Summary of Recent Research by Rob Paral and Associates; By Fred Tsao, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, February 2014
**City of Chicago Data Portal
***Chicago Public Schools SQRP Ratings 2018-19