You don't have to dig too deep into our past coverage of Chicago's tax increment financing (TIF) system to see how the system has been gamed by influential businessmen, deep-pocketed campaign contributors, and the politically connected. A report (PDF) released today by the ...
You don't have to dig too deep into our past coverage of Chicago's tax increment financing (TIF) system to see how the system has been gamed by influential businessmen, deep-pocketed campaign contributors, and the politically connected. A report (PDF) released today by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) provides yet another reason for outrage. While downtown developers have pocketed millions in taxpayer dollars through TIF, CCH found that a mere 4 percent of property tax revenue diverted by TIF has been reinvested in housing stock that could be considered "affordable."
Based on their analysis, at least half of all TIF-subsidized residential units across the city sold above the average price of a home in their respective communities. And a mere 27 percent of these units fell within the price range of full-time, low-wage workers. More from CCH:
The data shows that in a quarter of all wards where TIF-subsidized affordable housing was constructed, for-sale units were priced for households earning as much as 2.5 times the community’s median income. In another quarter of those wards, TIF-funded rental housing cost as much $582 more per month than the average apartment in the neighborhood.
Alds. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th Ward), Manny Flores (1st Ward), and Toni Foulkes (15th Ward) unveiled an ordinance today that would force the city to up the ante by putting 20 percent of the property tax revenue collected through TIF ($555 million in 2007 alone) towards housing for Chicagoans with modest incomes. "These aren't people who are asking for a handout," Flores said at a City Hall conference today. "They're asking for a hand up." Watch:
Passing the city's affordable housing set-aside ordinance was "like trying to move a mountain," Burnett told the crowd, adding that it's time to devote similar energies to this TIF proposal. Watch:
In the wake of the housing collapse, it will be hard for the mayor to contend that investing in housing isn't crucial to economic development. "We've got to get our economy going," Flores told us. "And we have TIF money here that can be used in a strategic way."