The Chicago Tenants' Protective League
Butler, Elizabeth P.
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The Chicago housing shortage after World War I was a serious problem in its size and scope. By the Summer of 1921, Chicagoans faced a shortage of 100,000 moderately priced apartments. Although 9.000 apartments were available in the city, their high costs deterred low and middle class renters. The causes of the housing shortage originated, in large part, during the years of war. Once the war ended, however, circumstances arose which hindered the recovery of the building construction industry. The shortage of residential dwellings affected all Chicagoans, yet only a group of middle class professionals organized in order to bring about a solution to this dilemma. This citizen's action group, called the Chicago Tenants' Protective League, worked for the improvement of tenants' political and legal rights. As the Chicago Tenants' Protective League gained strength and a large following, opposition, headed by the Chicago real estate board, arose in order to thwart the solutions which the Chicago Tenants' Protective league proposed. This paper attempts to outline the major causes of the housing shortage in Chicago and the events surrounding the battle for better housing conditions in the city. Some observations and questions will be raised and answered regarding the long term effects of war on a society and the manner in which public and private organizations use the American political situation to their advantage.