City Council Still Shutting Door on Forelosure Relief
The proposed Sweet Home Chicago ordinance would allocate 20 percent of the city’s ample Tax Increment Finance revenues to fund affordable housing, including the purchase and rehabilitation of properties stricken by foreclosure. As late as last fall, a majority of Aldermen sponsored the legislation, but efforts to call the measure in City Council to a vote have been repeatedly rebuffed. In January, powerful 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke invoked a disingenuous parliamentary maneuver to block a vote, and the Mayor Daley’s unofficial floor leader, Ald. Patrick O’Connor, led a movement to table the ordinance last week.
The resistance to the bill is hard to fathom in a climate where neighborhoods have been decimated by foreclosures. A recent report found that foreclosures throughout the Chicago region surged by 20 percent in 2010, as the housing market continues reel from the convulsion of the impaired economy and the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
In communities with high rates of foreclosures, property values continue to decline due the prevalence of vacant lots, decaying buildings and the crime and blight they tend to attract. But the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance would provide relief by unleashing funds to buy those properties and build or rehab homes residing on them. The money would augment the city’s existing revenues for affordable housing, which fell short of the $400 million annually adopted as a goal in 2009.
Yet allies of the Mayor have actually floated a proposal that would reduce that goal by a staggering 75 percent, which represents precisely the wrong direction the city should be moving at a time when its housing markets sinks deeper in the doldrums.
Earth to Aldermen: Phone Home. Get in touch with conditions threatening your constituents and pass the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance could resurface at the March meeting of the Chicago City Council.