The Crusader Newspaper Group

In Black suburban cities, nearly 15,000 homes may be lost to tax sales

Nearly 15,000 homes in Chicago’s outlying suburban communities that have large Black populations may be lost through tax sales, according to data from the Cook County Treasurer’s office.

The data show that property taxes on 14,905 homes in 22 suburban cities have not been paid in two years and are on a list of properties up for a tax sale. The Crusader calculated that owners of those properties owe a total of nearly $51 million in overdue property taxes as of February 18, 2021.

Tax delinquent homes allow a new owner to pay the overdue fees before he or she can eventually own the properties after several years of property tax payments.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and her office are pushing a “Black Houses Matter” campaign to boost awareness and help thousands of homeowners in Black wards pay their property taxes and save them from being acquired by new buyers.

The suburban city with the most delinquent homes is Harvey. Located 22 miles south of Chicago, Harvey has 4,604 homes that owe nearly $14.5 million in overdue property taxes. Cook County data does not report delinquent homes by ethnic group, but 66 percent of Harvey’s 24,386 residents are Black, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

Chicago Heights has the second highest number of delinquent homes. Some 1,954 homes there are two years behind on their property taxes and owe over $6.5 million.

Robbins, which is located five miles west of Harvey, has 1,434 homes that owe over $1.6 million in back property taxes.

In Calumet City, 936 homes owe over $4 million in property taxes and are up for a tax sale. In Markham, 887 properties together owe nearly $1.8 million.

In Ford Heights, 861 homes owe over $1 million, and 550 homes in Dolton owe over $4 million.

Dixmoor, Riverdale and Hazel Crest each have over 400 homes that are two years behind on their property taxes. The 530 homes in Dixmoor owe a total of over $1.2 million. In Riverdale, some 492 homes owe over $2.4 million. In Hazel Crest, some 406 homes owe nearly $1 million in delinquent property taxes.

Cook County data show that South Holland had 195 homes owing over $837,000. In Maywood, 188 homes owe nearly $1.5 million, and 107 homes in Country Club Hills owe a total of $1.3 million.

The suburban city with the least number of delinquent properties is Olympia Fields, which has 50 homes that owe over $400,000.

Pappas’ “Black Houses Matter” campaign includes a half-hour show at 11:30 a.m. on WVON, where Pappas provides information and answers questions regarding property taxes from homeowners.

Since 2000, property tax bills have increased by 115 percent in Chicago. In Cook County, property tax bills increased by 99 percent, and 87 percent in the suburbs.

Data also show that the cost of living has increased by 36 percent, and the average wage has increased 57 percent for all public and private employees in Cook County since 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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