The Crusader Newspaper Group

Leaders fight to save homes from tax “scoundrels”

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

After calling on House Speaker Michael Madigan to call for a moratorium on the April 3rd deadline for paying Cook County taxes, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. met with several homeowners, some of whom never received their property tax notices and may now lose their homes.

One of the 50,000 properties on the tax sale list is that of Gabella Pyke, 78, who lives in the 9200 block of South Loomis. She is a nurse and a homecare worker. Fiscally, she’s in a bind because she can’t pay her taxes, but does not want to lose her home.

“Gov. Rauner has not paid us,” she said, referring to the state’s ongoing budget impasse. The state of Illinois has not had a budget in 20-months and has stopped paying its legislators.

Sharon Davis has lived in her grandmother’s house, located in the 6400 block of South Carpenter Street in the Englewood community for 43 years. She was injured on her CTA job in 2013 and hasn’t worked since. Davis has yet to receive unemployment payments. Her case is still in arbitration.

And, then there is Millicent Grammer of the 8500 block of South Aberdeen in the Auburn Gresham community. She is disabled, having had a stroke, and lives in her mother’s house, which is paid for. The 57-year-old mother of three said,  “I did not receive a notice. I don’t want to lose my house.”

Harriet Jones who lives in the 14200 block of South State Street in Riverdale, IL has lived in her home for three years. The county says she is delinquent in paying her taxes on her driveway. The taxes on her home are up-to-date, but she is confused about why she has to pay taxes on her driveway. A call to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office about the driveway taxes has prompted an investigation.

However, Jones’ son, Gregory Guest, who just turned 58, is in the hospital having had a hip and knee replacement operation. He lives in the 14400 block of South LaSalle in Riverdale. While he has paid half of his $5,000 taxes, he cannot pay the remainder by April 3rd until his disability comes through.

Saying these are the faces of embattled homeowners, many elderly and disabled, Jackson said, “it’s fight back time.” There are 6,600 homeowners who may not know their homes are on the list because they never received a notice … 6,000 of them owing less than $1,000 and mostly African American.

Jackson has joined with Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin in calling for the restoration of a year to pay your delinquent taxes rather than four months.

Boykin called the April 3rd tax sale “a legal wealth transfer if they are not notified.” Holding up the huge list of delinquent homeowners, Boykin said, “The criminal thing about this is that mainly African Americans are on this list and we’re concerned about this. . .”

Jackson, who called the tax buyers “scoundrels,” and Boykin held a press conference at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson said he has placed several calls to Madigan that have not yet been returned. He also called Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who requested the shortening of the tax payment plan, but she too has yet to return his calls.

The bills to reduce the delinquent tax payment period from a year to six-months, and come August 1st to four months, was carried in the House by Rep. Christian L. Mitchell (D-26th) and Senator Daniel Bliss (D-Evanston), who has announced he is running for governor.

Jackson and Boykin are working with Dr. Willie Wilson who put up $150,000 of his personal money that was deposited with the Westside Justice Center to provide no-interest loans to delinquent homeowners.

Boykin added, “We bailed the banks out. Now it’s time to bail the people out.”

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