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Task force to recommend property tax payment plan to prevent homeowner displacement

Photo caption: (l-r) Senator Robert Peters (D-South Shore) and Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin (D-Matteson)

State legislation was recently signed creating a task force to prevent the displacement of longtime Cook County homeowners who have fallen behind on property tax payments. SB 74 creates the Property Tax Payment Plan Task Force to be co-chaired by Senator Robert Peters (D-South Shore) and Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin (D-Matteson), who also served as the legislation’s chief co-sponsors.

The Task Force will study options for delinquent homeowners to be exempted from the annual tax sale while paying down their overdue taxes in monthly installments. Currently, homeowners must pay delinquencies in full by the time of the tax sale, plus compounding interest, to avoid being subject to the tax sale where their debt can be purchased by investors. The annual tax sale has significant disparate impacts on Black and Brown communities and can cause a homeowner to lose their property and forfeit hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity.

Task Force membership will include representatives from county, municipal, and township governments, non-municipal taxing districts, and affordable housing groups from across Cook County. Meetings will occur through the rest of the year and will culminate in a set of recommendations for future payment plan legislation.

“We should do everything in our power to prevent the displacement of longtime Black and Brown homeowners in Cook County,” said Senator Peters. He continued, “A monthly payment plan option for homeowners behind on taxes is an essential anti-displacement strategy in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods on the South and West sides of Chicago.”

Representative Meyers-Martin said of the legislation, “Homeowners in the South Suburbs pay some of the highest tax rates in Cook County. A monthly payment plan would help those who experience a hardship get back on track without the fear of losing their home.”

This legislation was supported by a number of housing advocates including Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Housing Action Illinois, the Chicago Community Trust, and the Housing Policy Task Force, a coalition of more than twenty organizations working to increase access to the wealth-building opportunities of homeownership for people of color.

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