Chicago moves to jack up property taxes to pay for homeless shelters

Opponents suggested it would further dissuade potential buyers in a real estate market that is already struggling.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Chicago is considering implementing a new policy that would increase property taxes on properties over $1 million, and use that revenue to pay for homeless shelters. 

The move, pushed by the Bring Chicago Home movement, has gained the support of the city's far-left mayor Brandon Johnson, who said it was a step forward in his plan to ensure Chicagoans have shelter.

"My administration is committed to Bring Chicago Home," Johnson tweeted, "and to building consensus around providing affordable housing to combat homelessness in our city."

Under the Bring Chicago Home plan, those who own properties valued at over $1 million would see their tax rate skyrocket from 0.75 percent to 2.65 percent.

During a meeting of the City Council's housing committee on Thursday, members explained that the policy, if implemented correctly, could bring in more than $163 million per year. That money would then be used to build homeless shelters and otherwise assist the unhoused population, according to Fox Business.

According to its website, Bring Chicago Home "aims to restructure the Real Estate Transfer Tax, a one-time tax on properties when they are sold to create a substantial and legally dedicated revenue stream to provide permanent affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness."

Currently, more than 65,000 Chicagoans are homeless, spending their nights on the streets, in shelters, or doubled up with friends and family, with over 6,000 classified as unsheltered.

Opponents of the plan have suggested it would further dissuade potential buyers in a real estate market that is already struggling.

As Fox Business reports, housing sales in the Windy City are down 25 percent since last year, with the supply of homes also shrinking. Commercial real estate hasn't fared much better, with a growing number of office buildings becoming and remaining vacant.

The policy still has to be formally proposed by City Council later this year. A vote will determine whether it will be a referendum issue on the 2024 ballot.
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