Nearly 13,000 homes in Chicago’s Black wards are delinquent on their property tax payments and are in jeopardy of being sold during a tax sale, according to a Crusader analysis of data from the Cook County Treasurer’s office. The property taxes on those homes have not been paid since 2018 and are at risk of being bought by new buyers.
The data also show that Black wards have delinquent property tax payments that are 12 times higher than those in white wards and nearly five times higher than those in Hispanic wards.
Overall, property taxes on about 16,591 residential properties in Chicago have not been paid since 2018 and owe a total of nearly $31 million.
Among the city’s 50 wards, Chicago’s Black wards have the highest number of delinquent residential properties, with 12,701 of them being two years late on payments that total nearly $19 million.
In Chicago’s 14 Hispanic wards, 2,812 residential properties are delinquent and owe a total of nearly $6 million.
The city’s 18 white wards have 1,068 delinquent properties that owe a total of over $6 million, according to Cook County data.
For some of Chicago’s Black neighborhoods, homeowners are vulnerable to gentrification where affluent buyers can acquire multiple residential properties for a pittance before renovating and selling, or “flipping,” them at prices unaffordable by existing residents to new owners.
With the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and her office have mounted a “Black Houses Matter” campaign to boost awareness and help thousands of homeowners in Black wards pay their property taxes and save them from acquisition by new buyers.
They have plenty of work ahead of them. Five Black wards have at least 1,200 homes that are delinquent in paying property taxes and eight wards have outstanding tax bills that total over $1.2 million.
The Black ward with the most delinquent properties is Alderman Carrie Austin’s 34th Ward, which includes parts of Morgan Park, West Pullman, Washington Heights and Roseland. In Austin’s ward, a total of 1,849 properties are delinquent, owing $1,721,293.34 in taxes.
The Black ward with the second highest number of delinquent properties is the 16th Ward. Represented by Alderman Stephanie Coleman, the 16th Ward includes parts of Englewood, Gage Park, West Englewood and Chicago Lawn.
Alderman Anthony Beale’s 9th Ward, which includes parts of Pullman, Roseland, Burnside, Altgeld Gardens and West Pullman, has 1,270 homes that owe a total of $1,698,733.64 in delinquent property taxes.
In Alderman Jeanette Taylor’s 20th Ward, which covers part of Woodlawn, Washington Park, Englewood, Back of the Yards and Canaryville, there are 1,244 homes that owe a total of $1,569,654.74.
In the 6th Ward, which covers parts of Chatham, Park Manor and Englewood, approximately 1,243 homes owe a total of $1,542,170.20 in delinquent property taxes since 2018. The 6th Ward is led by Alderman Roderick Sawyer.
The Black wards with the least number of delinquent residential properties, in order, are the 18th, 29th, 27th, 4th and 5th wards. Those wards have less than 250 delinquent residential homes and apartment buildings with overdue tax payments.
By comparison, in Chicago’s 14 Hispanic wards, only the 10th Ward has over 1,200 delinquent residential properties. Represented by Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza, there are 1,442 delinquent properties in the 10th Ward that owe a total of $1,331,411.83 in past due property taxes.
Among the city’s white wards, none have more than 200 delinquent properties.
The highest number is 145 properties that owe $1,961,061.10 in Alderman Brendan Reilly’s 42nd Ward. Twelve of the 14 white wards have less than 80 delinquent properties, and delinquent properties in 16 white wards owe less than $500,000.
Black wards are in the worst shape.
Addressing the issue, Pappas’ “Black Houses Matter” campaign aims to reduce the number of delinquent properties in the city’s Black wards. The campaign includes a half-hour show at 11:30 a.m. on WVON, where Pappas provides information and answers questions on property taxes from homeowners.
Property taxes for 2020 were due March 2. However, homeowners have until May 2 to pay without any penalties through May 31, 2021.
The Black ward that is of particular concern is Alderman Pat Dowell’s 4th Ward, which includes parts of the South Loop, Hyde Park and Chicago’s historically Black Bronzeville neighborhood. In those communities, property values have tripled over the years during a construction boom where developers have built new condominiums and bought old homes before renovating and restoring them.
Skyrocketing property values in Bronzeville during the last two decades are recorded by the county. Data from the Cook County Treasurer’s office show that in 2000, Bronzeville residents were billed a total of $32,851,636 in property taxes. By 2019, that figure had grown to $174,367,671, a 431-percent increase.
Today, about 476 residential properties in the 3rd Ward are delinquent and since 2018, owe a total of $1,293,278.91, which is the sixth highest among Chicago’s predominately Black wards.
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 wages have increased 57 percent for all public and private employees in Cook County since 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But there is also concern that the recession caused by the pandemic may have put Blacks in a deeper hole, one from which they may not recover. Blacks in Chicago and the nation worked in some of the hardest hit industries before the pandemic struck one year ago. Many have been unable to return to work as most of the economy remains shut down.