With an Olympic development bonanza now out of the picture, there's
been plenty of speculation over Mayor Daley's next move for boosting
the city's sagging economy. Credit remains tight and the housing market
is still deeply distressed. But there are tools sitting in
With an Olympic development bonanza now out of the picture, there's been plenty of speculation over Mayor Daley's next move for boosting the city's sagging economy. Credit remains tight and the housing market is still deeply distressed. But there are tools sitting in the Daley woodshed that could help ameliorate this problem; As we've pointed out before, the mayor is sitting on a $1.3 billion tax increment financing (TIF) surplus that could go a long way toward rejuvenating crumbling neighborhoods. The question is what will it take to get the mayor to finally dip into his honey pot?
Today, the Sweet Home Chicago Coalition ratcheted up the pressure on the mayor to begin spending in the communities that need it most. "Instead of waiting on the federal government to send us a stimulus package, we need to start our own stimulus," Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) told members of the coalition early this afternoon as they rallied outside of a series of TIF-funded projects that transformed vacant Humboldt Park lots into thriving (and affordable) apartment buildings. Burnett and colleague Ald. Manny Flores (1st Ward) are currently crafting an ordinance that would require the city to commit 20 percent of all TIF revenues toward affordable housing. Today, proponents of the plan built a symbolic yellow brick road paved with the TIF surpluses. Check out our slide show:
The new 20 percent benchmark would be a vast departure from the mayor's current priorities. While downtown corporations continue to pocket millions upon millions to lure white collar workers, a mere 4 percent of TIF revenue has been reinvested in truly affordable housing since 1995, according to an analysis by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH). In doing so, CCH argues that the Daley administration has overlooked an intriguing statistic; for every 1,000 units of affordable housing built, 1,030 permanent jobs are created. And the projects would alleviate the affordable housing crisis that's pushing more working-poor families into homelessness.
"You all give me the strength to stand up to Mayor Daley and anyone who gets in our way," Burnett said today. "You inspire me ... This is just the beginning." We'll be following their next steps closely.