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Include Renters in Property-Tax Relief, Aldermen Urge

By Ted Cox | July 18, 2016 2:13pm
 Aldermen Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Joe Moreno and Deb Mell are leading calls to include renters in property-tax relief.
Aldermen Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Joe Moreno and Deb Mell are leading calls to include renters in property-tax relief.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Aldermen are seeking to find some way to protect renters as well as homeowners from this year's massive hike in property taxes.

"This conversation needs to include renters," said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), pointing to a rebate proposal for homeowners put forth last week by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "We need to continue to work toward property-tax relief that includes our renters."

According to Daniel LaSpata, of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, 55 percent of Chicago residents rent, and 40 percent of those households are already considered "distressed," meaning they're spending more than 30 percent of income on housing. He called the failure to address rents in tax relief a "glaring omission" and an "injustice."

Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) said the tax hike creates a double whammy given the current popularity of her Albany Park neighborhood.

"The neighborhood is on fire," she said, with properties typically on the market just days instead of weeks or months before they're sold. "We're seeing a lot of our renters displaced."

Aldermen did not submit a concrete proposal at a City Hall news conference Monday, but Ramirez-Rosa said, "There have been a number of ideas that have been proposed."

Foremost among them, he added, were a way to give landlords incentives not to raise their tenants' rents despite the current tax increases, or to directly provide rebates to renters who've seen their rents go up as a result of the tax increase seen in this summer's second-installment bills.

Yet the Emanuel administration last week called provisions for renters "difficult and costly to administer and enforce," while allowing that "further work is needed to structure a rental rebate that addresses these concerns."

"The best relief would be coming from Springfield," said Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) of a mayoral proposal to double the homeowner exemption this year, a measured that required action by the General Assembly. "Unfortunately, we got nothing from Springfield."

Yet Ramirez-Rosa, Mell, Moreno and Ald. Milly Santiago (31st) all committed themselves to providing some form of relief to renters, with Ramirez-Rosa saying they hoped to have something ready for the City Council by September.

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