POLITICIANS TALK PAUL WORKS*

*FOR PEOPLE

Paul will work transparently to better Chicagoans’ quality of life. He will ensure children’s access to sustainably-funded, high-quality schools, eliminate the threat of lead in the water, and improve the city’s infrastructure, from internet services to bike lanes. LEARN MORE

*FOR SAFETY

Paul will provide the Police Department with the resources and support needed to dramatically improve the low homicide clearance rate. This will be accomplished by maintaining a force of 14,000 officers to ensure beat integrity and a stronger relationship with the community. This will include a minimum 1,200 Detectives, five detective divisions, and the hiring of a minimum of 400 retired officers to provide investigative support. LEARN MORE

*FOR OPPORTUNITY

Using his experience managing billion dollar budgets and an innovative approach to potential city income sources – Opportunity Zones, TIFs, and federal funds –  Paul will finance economic opportunity for all of Chicago. LEARN MORE

*PAUL’S FIVE-POINT PLAN FOR CHICAGO

*Wage a war against violent crime to make our neighborhoods safer by getting violent criminals off the streets

*Invest in Chicago, prioritizing long-neglected areas of the city, to create economic opportunities and bring jobs to ALL of the city’s neighborhoods

*Ensure all children have access to high quality schools that are safe and secure

*Implement a long-term financial plan that will solve the city’s financial problems while capping property taxes and fees and reducing fines that are punishing families and small businesses

*Prioritize efforts to ensure that people live in healthy communities with access to critically needed community-based social services

*INVESTING IN PEOPLE

Infrastructure

Paul believes in a proactive rather than a reactive approach to Chicago’s infrastructural needs. In addition to the larger line-items like road and bike lane improvement, Paul’s plan includes lead-free water, flood prevention measures, adequate parking, and internet access worthy of our time.
 

Schools

Schools are the largest victim of unbalanced budgets. If communities are to have quality schools where students can grow and prosper, Chicago needs a long-term financial plan that will bring stability, open new schools, and fund effective programs. Read more about Paul’s record with schools around the world and his plans for a balanced budget.

The Plan

1. Ensure Financial Stability And Predictability 

Bring to CPS the long-term financial planning model necessary to enable long-term financial stability and ensure that every school has the resources and supports needed to be effective educational institutions and community centers.

– This is the approach Vallas previously utilized at CPS to transform a projected structural budget deficit of over $1.2 billion into a $1 billion cash balance, resulting in the earning of twelve bond upgrades. (Attachment #1)

– With the passage of normal costs combined with the prospect that Governor Pritzker will fully fund the new School Aid Formula, a five year plan can be developed similar to the successful five year growth plan Vallas deployed while CEO of CPS.

– Beginning with the foundation of a five year plan ensures estimated available revenues and costs are balanced.

– Building school budgets and staffing models into long-term financial plans ensures that there is equity and schools are provided the sustainable resources needed to support, improve and expand instruction and neighborhood program offerings.

2. Expand High Quality School Choices

Implement a strategy of expanding and supporting access for high quality education options, including ensuring students in every high school are provided full access to AP courses, Dual Enrollment and Early College, and by placing magnet-type programs – like International Baccalaureate (IB) – in neighborhood schools.

– Placing dual enrollment and early college programs, and placing IB and other magnet-type programs in neighborhood schools is a simple and cost-effective way to expand new program offerings throughout the city. 

– Full program roster expansion is not completed over a single year; the infrastructure and number of options is ramped up over multiple years. This plan is more reliant upon and enabled by an effective staffing strategy.

– Accomplishing this is a matter of strategic scheduling (e.g., a student may take a college-level course as an alternative to a core class)

– This will provide students the opportunity in their junior and senior years to enroll in early college/dual enrollment programs

– Success comes down to course offerings and planning.

– Making programs attractive makes schools attractive, which draws in students and results in more money for the district.

3. Implement Strategies That Will Eliminate The Achievement Gap

Expand early childhood programs, amend K-8 curriculum and implement instructional strategies and supports to close the achievement gap and ensure that all students are ready for high school. This strategy will include universal “Pre-Natal to the Classroom” services and expanded extended day and extended year interventions to close the gap

– These initiatives increased academic performance every year of Vallas’s tenure at CPS, more than doubled reading and math scores during his tenure at the School District of Philadelphia and resulted in Recovery School District of New Orleans leading the state in growth for six consecutive years.

– The growth in each district under Vallas’s leadership was largely accomplished by providing superior curriculum instructional models and by having extended day and extended year time dedicated to academic interventions and increased instructional time on task

– This is less an increased funding issue and more a budget prioritizing issue and the effective coordination of all available public and private resources toward programs that accomplish specific educational objectives

– This program becomes a part of MTSS (academic intervention; formally RTI)

– At CPS and in Philadelphia, schools were open an additional two hours a day during the school year and an additional six weeks over the summer. Instructional time for New Orleans schools averaged one third higher than mandated by state law

– Pre-natal to the Classroom is one of the least expensive and most effective programs for closing the achievement gap.

– The identified annual amount the Emmanuel administration needed for its Universal Four Year old preschool program could cover the additional costs of the Pre-Natal to the Classroom program and much of the cost associated with after school/extended day programming and expanded magnet programs.

– The long-term savings from the Pre-Natal to the Classroom program is immense in reduced costs for children with special needs and other costs associated with the failure to close the achievement gap.

4. Ensure Schools Are Modern, Safe And Superior Learning Centers

Ensure that all school buildings are modern, safe and environmentally healthy, and that all classrooms are superior state-of-the-art learning environments offering the technology needed to enhance instruction, education offerings and supports.

– The CPS Capital Plan will be reprioritized to focus on repairing and modernizing existing schools.

– Effective use of technology will expand teacher resources and educational offerings and choices

– Modernizing and maintaining state-of-the-art classrooms will ramp up over a five-year period through standardization, strategic sourcing and leasing.

– Safety will be further bolstered via restoration of the School Patrol and gradual conversion of CPS Safety and Security positions into CPD positions. CPS will pick up current costs for security while CPD will cover the difference. This will make over 500 additional CPD Officers available for special duty ~165 days of the year when schools are not open, saving additional tens of millions in overtime for CPD. 

– The plan will restore the student safety protocols and infrastructure implemented during Vallas’s tenure, and dismantled after he departed, including a 24/7 reporting and crisis intervention system.

– Utilizing emergent technology will enable a modern school digital social/safety net.

5. Make Available System-Wide Career And Technical Education 

Implement system-wide Career and Technical Education and Work Study programs available to juniors and seniors in every neighborhood high school.

– All high schools will offer Career and Technical Education and Work Study opportunities, with a primary focus on the junior and senior years.

– Work Study will utilize the Cristo Rey Model and include Student Entrepreneurial Programs.

– The intent is to provide all students with dual track opportunities, prepare them for the workforce and incentivize them to complete school. This will enable students to transition more easily to college or employment. 

– These programs can be made affordable with the effective use of technology, the right business and training school partnerships and a smart staffing and course offering strategy.

– Funding can be further supplemented by other available private and public funds.

6. Revitalize Declining Schools And Repurpose Closed Buildings

Develop a long-term plan to right-size the system by reinventing struggling schools and repurposing schools that have closed or on the verge of closing. 

– Prior to Vallas’s tenure at CPS, the district lost 110,000 students from its peak year in 1979. During his tenure from 1995-2001, enrollment grew by almost 30,000. Since then, it has lost over 30,000 students. 

– The long-term plan will include considerations for right-sizing the district to reflect demographic changes. It will also implement a strategy to make the school system more attractive and grow.

– Existing schools with declining enrollments need to be reinvented by adding high quality magnet programs, like IB, or giving them a new focus. For example, a declining school on the West Side could be converted into an already-needed Agricultural Science school, or a struggling high school could be reinvented as a First Responders Academy.

– Closed schools or schools on the verge of closing could be repurposed as Adult High Schools via funding available under a new state law or Alternative Schools.

– The primary strategy for shuttered buildings will be to reopen them as community centers that will offer Adult Education and Occupation Training to the tens of thousands of displaced adults, mostly men of color, age 17-50, who are high school dropouts, chronically unemployed or ex-offenders.

– There is readily available and likely funding for such initiatives; federal WIOA and WOTC funding is available for both the training and hiring of the aforementioned population, and the new governor indicates the state will fund the Adult High School Program.

– Any decision to close or repurpose a school will be made with the input and approval of the community.

7. Create A Pipeline Of Quality School Leaders And Teachers

Restore the CPS Leadership Academy to guide education policy and help recruit and train the next generation of school leaders, while establishing an apprentice program that will expand school supports as well as recruiting and training of the next generation of teachers and support staff candidates.

– Creating the Chicago Teacher Apprenticeship Program will expand the pool of diversified, highly qualified teacher candidates by incentivizing teacher candidates from all over the country.

– Establishing the CPS Career Changer teacher program will be enabled by entering into public-private partnerships with institutions already offering high quality programs. 

– Establishing CPS own Troops to Teachers Program and Alternative Teacher Certification Program with HBCU’s will further diversify and improve the quality of the teacher candidates pool.

– Any alternative certification programs will be developed in full partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union – and not without such a partnership.

– Restoring the old CPS leadership training programs (such as LAUNCH and LIFT) in partnerships with CPS’s and Northwestern or an alternative University will provide infrastructure for the pipeline. 

– Apprenticeships could be expanded to include nursing, counseling, psychology and business students, who would be trained like first time employees and could provide immediate supplemental support to CPS teachers and staff. This is meant to supplement, not displace existing personnel.

– Maintain the National Teachers Academy, which was created by the Vallas administration, and work in partnership with the CTU to improve and expand the program.

8. Implement A Governance Structure That Ensures Accountability 

Appoint a hybrid Chicago Public School Board of Education by appointing board members who are elected by the public, not the Mayor. The Board will have at minimum seven members with three appointed and three elected; the President will be appointed by the Mayor.

– Publicly elected Board members could be elected in “at large” elections or by Local School Council members. 

– All Boards that have oversight of public funds and have critical public service responsibilities need to have civilian representation, and civilians need to be selected by the public at large.

– Public representation needs to be accompanied by complete, convenient and expedited public access to all relevant information, especially financial and information related to performance.

– Information needs to be available digitally and in a format that can be easily navigated and understood. Public representation must be matched by public access to information and transparency.

 

Ticket Reform

Chicago is increasingly balancing its budgets on fees and fines which are disproportionately falling on the backs of those least able to pay.
 

Clean Water

While many large cities see a degree of lead in the water, Chicago’s water problem is compounded by that fact that it permitted lead water piping until 1986. To avoid the devastating neurological effects associated with lead, Paul proposes an ambitious city-sponsored service fund that would replace water supply service connectors between homes and city water mains while working with homeowners to establish clean water supplies in the interim.

What’s the deal?

Chicago has more lead service lines than any other city in the country – 80% of homes use lead pipes to connect to the main line. That’s 385,000 remaining lead pipes. As these lines age and are disturbed by road construction and main water line replacement, risk of lead exposure only increases.  This is a serious health issue with lasting, severe consequences for children.

To date, the city’s policy has been to replace the main lines and leave it to the property owner to replace the connecting lines. This financial burden has an outsized effect on working class and low-income neighborhoods. Chicago’s citizens shouldn’t be exposed to lead because they can’t pay for the city’s mistakes. It also undermines the ability of depressed neighborhoods to increase their property values and attract and retain families and businesses.

What has the city been doing to address it?

Well, not a lot. Chicago and other cities haven’t been required to replace service lines because there is no federal limit on the amount of lead in tap water in your home, only the main lines. A water utility can be ordered to make repairs, but only once it repeatedly exceeds a systemwide benchmark intended to gauge the effectiveness of anti-corrosion treatment.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago officials consider corrosion control in the city effective, basing their safety assurances on 50 federally-mandated lead tests conducted every three years. The Tribune reported in February of 2016 that “few of the tests were carried out on streets where a water main has been replaced, the vast majority of the homes tested were owned by people who work for or retired from the City Water Department and none of the tests were conducted in areas of the city where childhood lead poisoning remains a problem.”

The city currently advises residents affected by water main replacements to flush their taps for a few minutes any time water hasn’t been used for several hours. “Informational” mailers have not included references to lead and have merely suggested that homeowners flush taps once after water main work is complete. The city offers free water testing via test kits that can be sent to a lab for analysis, however, arrival of such kits are never certain and are rarely timely.

Paul’s Solution

Paul’s solution is to create a Neighborhood Conservation Fund that will secure and leverage accessible federal, state, and local revenues to help finance the replacement of homes and small businesses’ lead service lines.

It will be a revolving fund that will be replenished to give Chicagoans long-term access to property improvement capital. This initiative will also help create a neighborhood-based water purification industry that will contribute to local employment opportunities.

Steps

1. Initiate a Public Education Campaign to alleviate residents’ concerns, explain offerings, and inform them of immediate actions they can take to limit lead exposure.

2. Offer free testing services and develop a plan to test all properties connected to lead service lines.

3. Pre-qualify vendors to ensure residents are receiving effective water filtration systems.

4. Develop an aggressive program for installing lead free pipes in new and existing properties.

Replacement Priorities

– Provide public access to affordable, effective, and subsidized water filtration systems.

– Replace lead pipes connected to day care centers and schools. Address lead paint.  

– Replace lead pipes connected to parks and other public places.

Paying for it: The Neighborhood Conservation Fund

Access the Federal and State Loan Program to pay for lead pipe replacement.

Galesburg was the first community in Illinois to secure funding for lead pipe replacements through the federal-state loan fund. To date, they have borrowed $4 million to replace half of the 10,000 lead pipes in the city.  

– End the state’s Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax diversion. 

This would restore approximately $100 million in previously constitutionally dedicated annual revenues to Chicago, a portion of which could be used to finance NCF lead abatement projects.

– Dedicate an annual percentage of current and future TIF surpluses and Developer Fees to the NCF to extend loans.

– Pursue the creation of a State Homeowners Property Tax Credit Program to partially offset the costs of lead pipe removal and replacement for homeowners and small businesses.

– Create a local property tax abatement program to partially offset the cost of lead pipe replacements and lead removal from property.

*INVESTING IN SAFETY

Police Accountability

As the father of two officers and the husband of a former officer, Paul knows that the police force is an integral part of the community. However, he believes the police must act with integrity and compassion in order to best serve, and therefore, strongly supports a zero tolerance policy for corruption and excess force.
 

Police Staffing & Support

“Even the best supervisor can’t properly account for the actions of 30 individual officers. We need to restore a 10 to 1 ratio.” Chicago’s police department is grossly understaffed. Without the strength of larger numbers, the police force cannot devote the necessary time to a single neighborhood and cannot maintain an adequate supervision hierarchy. Paul’s plan is to develop a state of the art training academy and to increase the force to 14,000 sworn officers. This new staff will include an increased number of supervisors as well as a specialized school unit trained to best serve the needs of at-risk students.
 

Restoring Detectives

74% of Chicago’s homicides go unsolved endangering the city with unprosecuted violent offenders. This issue is solvable. The low rate is in large part due to the police department’s lack of staff and resources. For example, other major cities, like Los Angeles and New York, have more than double our number of police detectives. Paul proposes that the city hire back retired detectives, a common practice, to restore the force to a minimum of 1200. This would not threaten an existing officer’s job, but would offer instead the necessary support to ensure cases are effectively handled.

The Background

Clearance rates on violent crimes, shootings and homicides are at an abysmal all-time low. The detective rank has shrunk to below where it once was, overburdening detectives who are already struggling with limited resources and larger spans of territory to cover.  Judges and prosecutors are demanding more than ever before from law enforcement in criminal cases. Standards for charging a criminal are higher now than ever before.

Because the Bureau of Detectives has shrunk, you have detectives doing “assembly-line” homicides investigations. Assembly-line homicide investigations occur when you have too many cases and not enough detectives or support. If there are enough leads that could result in an arrest, detectives will continue to work the case. If not the detective will move on to the next case leaving the previous case unsolved. This is the casualty of the lack of detective manpower and resources. By hiring back retired detectives or officers with detective experience, the current assembly-line homicide investigations can stop.

The hired back detectives will provide investigative support in the following areas:

– Case review and case management

– Witness follow up

– Subpoena support

– Obtaining digital evidence and evidence coordination

– Transporting of witnesses for interviews or Grand Jury.

– Social media investigations

While there is no substitute on the part of the State’s Attorney’s Office and the courts for aggressive prosecution and long sentences for violent offenders and gun law violators, it begins with an arrest.

To qualify for the position, the retiree would have to have left the department in good standing and be free from any Internal Affairs or Cook County State Attorney investigations upon their retirement. Retired Detectives who return to these investigative support positions would be required to undergo continual training to ensure understanding of current department practices and procedures as well as the most up to date state and local laws.

The are no obstacles to hiring retired detectives

Hiring retired detectives and officers with detective experience would be a fast way to provide the Bureau of Detectives with the additional support and experience the need during these challenging times. These are not replacement employees and will not be filling existing vacancies. There are no obstacles to bringing seasoned experienced and accomplished officers back into fold.

Facts:

– Government agencies, including the CPD, have been hiring back retired employees for years. The retirees do not displace existing employees or fill existing vacant positions but serve to supplement existing resources.

– Major police departments engaging in hire back programs include Denver, Dallas, New York and even London, were the city hired 400 Constables. New York’s public safety surge back in the 90’s included the hiring of over retired 400 detectives.

– City rules regarding residency could be waived as the retirees would be part-time contract employees.

– Health insurance can easily be extended.

– There are no union issues if there is no displacement.

Remember, these are supplemental positions designed to provide additional support. There are no excuses or obstacles for taking this common-sense approach to quickly enhancing detective resources. The city’s response to everything seems to be to cancel more days off, pay more overtime and to move more officers off their beats.

 

Emergency Services

The need for emergency medical services has increased but the number of responders and emergency vehicles has not. Paul will substantially increase the ambulance fleet to meet the demand for service and will create the Chicago Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services within the CFD under a separate command, similarly to New York. Read more about this proposal and its funding

Why is there a shortage of EMS services?

The EMS lacks trained personnel and funding for emergency service vehicles.

These are some of the systemic issues:

– There are a limited number of EMS personnel because of an age cap for EMS-aspiring firefighters. Firefighters can only cross-train for EMS at age 38.

– No preference is given to already-certified EMS candidates applying for open CFD positions.

The CFD needs a Community Home Health Program. Empirical evidence demonstrates it significantly increases the quality of life for patients and reduces the costly use of 911 and emergency room services. This could also be an income-generator for additional EMS ambulances and crews.

– There is a shortage of EMS funding because the CFD has been unable to recover more than 37 percent of its billable revenue.

– CFD does not charge for biohazard clean-up after a motor vehicle accident. This has been a significant source of revenue for several other fire departments nationwide for many years. CFD has failed to adapt.

– CFD has forgone other income-generating opportunities because it does not have the means to compete with private EMS providers that offer services to private events such as concerts, festivals, sporting events, etc.

Paul’s Solutions

– Create a Bureau of EMS Services within the CFD, similar to the existing programs in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston.  This will be led by an EMS Commissioner who will set priorities, develop budget recommendations and manage EMS services.

– Address the inadequacies of the position of “Paramedics in Charge” which would include testing for the position and a pay raise commensurate with its responsibilities.

– Enter into lease agreements with companies to secure and expand the number of modern ambulances available to the CFD EMS unit.

– Immediately lift the age limit of 38 on the training of EMS personnel, expand cross-training and target firefighter candidate recruits who are already EMS qualified.

– Establish an EMS Special Operations unit that will respond to active shooter calls and any calls involving violence or possible violence.

– Introduce full-time EMS Special Operations motorcycle teams to determine if paramedics on motorcycles have value.

– Expand EMS income-generating services by establishing a Community Health Center program to provide federally reimbursable health services to indigent and isolated communities.

– Require that city-supported private events like Lollapalooza, sporting events, etc. use city EMS services when available and feasible.

CTA Safety

Crime on the city’s CTA is at an all time high. In addition to an increase of cameras and “panic” buttons, Paul’s proposal includes a plan to fund a boost in the number of Mass Transit Officers.
 

Student Safety

To address student safety and the widespread abuse reported by the Chicago Tribune's recent expose, Paul's platform includes are overhaul of the CPS's current safety protocol. Paul calls for a specialized School Patrol Division that would be comprehensively trained, from deescalation tactics to the identification of sex trafficking. He also proposes leveraging current technology and social media channels in order to provide students with confidential abuse reporting and intends to harness the assets of state and local organizations for aggressive crisis intervention.
 

*INVESTING IN OPPORTUNITY

A Balanced Budget

“For Chicago to succeed, it is critical that city leadership creates, empowers, and maintains long-term stability.” While budgets aren’t the flashiest of campaign topics, a balanced city budget is critical for the support of programs essential to Chicago’s growth and ultimate success. Utilizing his experience as both Chicago’s Budget Director and Finance Director, Paul has put together the most detailed budget proposal of any candidate to date.

Roadmap to Fiscal Stability, pt.1

Structural Deficit (by 2023) $1.05 billion
Our Target of New Revenue and Savings (by 2023) $1.75 billion

State Agenda
• Ending CPPRT Diversion: $121 million
• 10 year plan to secure fair funding for CTRS: $250 million
• Fair share from Local Gov. Distribution Fund: $100 million
• Casino and Gaming Tax Revenue: $250 million
• Cannabis Tax Revenue: $50 million

Total: $771 million

Roadmap to Fiscal Stability, pt. 2

Total Target (by 2023) $1.75 billion

City Agenda -$771 million
Remaining Target $979 million

City Agenda Savings
• Property Tax Increases (capped at 5% or rate of inflation*): $250 million
• Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs): $100 million
• Tax Increment Financing: $100 million
• Natural Revenue Growth: TBD

Total: $450 million

Roadmap to Fiscal Stability, pt. 3

Total Target (by 2023) $1.75 billion

State and City Agenda -$1.221 billion

Remaining Target $529 million

Income Generating Activities
• Investment Equity Funds (Awards, contracts, grants, tax breaks, TIF): TBD

• Monetizing the City Departments (eg Fire/EMT): $50 million
• Enterprise Funds: $50 million
• Total: $100 million

Expenditure Reductions
• Expenditures: $330 million
• Contractual: $100 million

Total: $430 million

Total (by 2023): $1.751 billion

 

 

 

Opportunity Zones

One universally-applauded program to emerge from the controversial 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act is the Federal Opportunity Zone Program. This new program will offer tax incentives to encourage businesses to invest in underfinanced regions. Paul is ready to make full use of this program in order to benefit Chicago’s most neglected neighborhoods. With a creative use of TIF funds, he plans to make Chicago the premier city for Opportunity Zone investment, and he confidently estimates an investment of $10 billion within his first term as mayor.
In the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress included a program that holds massive potential for spurring real investment in economically challenged communities around America. The program is called the Opportunity Fund, or the Qualified Opportunity Zone Program.

This bipartisan program provides massive tax benefits to investors that invest in designated, economically-challenged areas throughout the U.S. Chicago has designated 133 zones that are approved in the national program, out of a total of about 8,700 zones nationwide. Investors around the country are very excited for this program. It is designed so that the federal government provides all the attractive incentives, not the states or our city.

Chicago possesses great potential for this program. With a growing core downtown, a vast public transportation system, and 133 designated zones for investors to consider, there is a wealth of opportunity for our city under this program. An issue we face is that our 133 zones in Chicago currently compete for investor money and subsequent projects against the other 8,700 zones in the U.S. That said, we have something that is much more valuable that we can commit to make sure that this program produces $10 billion of new investment.

Affordable Housing

Very little has be done to create new affordable housing in Chicago. Even more damaging has been the city’s failure to help homeowners and renters find ways to afford to stay in their long-time communities that are undergoing rapid appreciation. To address this, Paul pledges to boost affordable housing throughout Chicago by facilitating the creation of tens of thousands of new affordable and accessible housing units through an overhaul of city building and zoning codes. He also plans to shield existing homeowners, renters, and businesses in communities threatened by gentrification by protecting them from dramatic increases in property taxes and fees.

Vallas Plan For Accelerating Construction of New Housing

Paul’s strategy is simple: spur affordable housing by accelerating the construction of new housing citywide. This will be done while capping property tax increases for existing residents in gentrifying areas.

Despite the hard work of numerous affordable housing groups and advocates, Emanuel has failed to produce a workable comprehensive strategy to address the affordable housing needs in Chicago, which must include managing affordability in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods.

Chicago has been ignoring a vast untapped potential for a major expansion of housing options all over the city. This is a major housing opportunity whose infrastructure is already largely in place and could benefit both prospective tenants as well as current property owners who are struggling to pay the skyrocketing property taxes, water and sewer fees, and other expenses that have mushroomed under Mayor Emanuel.

A centerpiece of the Vallas plan is to provide new affordable housing to make it easier for landlords to convert unfinished or unproductive spaces to apartments. According to analysis of Cook County property records, Chicago is home to as many as 130,000 apartment buildings, ranging from two-flats to multi-unit buildings of 24 apartments or more. The overriding majority of those properties have unfinished garden-level space which are ideally suited for conversion that could provide upwards of 175,000 new housing units throughout the city.

 Further, the city has more than 700 linear miles of vacant ground-level retail space. Many analysts believe that this space will never be occupied by retailers due to the shift to internet retailing. The city needs to lead efforts to explore how amendments to the zoning ordinance could facilitate converting these spaces to residential use.

Paul proposes that the initial stage of the garden unit apartment program be limited to the city’s transit-oriented development (TOD) zones around mass transit stations. Traditionally, parking availability has been the greatest concern for aldermen and residents when discussions of increasing housing density is proposed. By initially limiting these units to existing TOD zones, we can carefully assess the impact this program is having on communities and adjust, as needed, as we expand. 

Also, the benefits of the city’s current TOD policy generally accrue to major developers, typically developments of 25 units or more. By comparison, the Paul’s proposal would help spread the financial benefits of TOD to a large number of smaller property owners.

Affordable housing is not only a problem for poorer communities but is becoming a major problem for middle and upper-middle income communities as well. Regardless of the number government initiatives to expand affordable housing in Chicago, the City’s long- term needs cannot be accomplished without removing the obstacles and barriers currently restricting new construction.

With an establishment of a City Housing Trust (CHT), the opportunities to provide expanded affordable and specialty housing would secure unoccupied and abandoned buildings, making them available to community based organizations, local developers and faith based organizations. This trust would be available if the space is used to provide affordable housing, special housing for veterans, the homeless, veterans, displaced youth and young adults, victims of domestic violence. The CHT could also provide financing for rehab and award temporary property tax abatements during the rehab and for an extended period depending on the buildings residential use. The city would retain an equity share in the property. 

Vallas Plan for Capping Individual Property Taxes

The highlight of Paul’s proposal to protect existing homeowners, renters and businesses from the adverse effects of sudden large increases in property taxes would be to cap and defer property taxes on existing homeowners and landlords to prevent them from being priced out of their homes just because their neighborhoods are rapidly appreciating.

Chicago Property Owners and Small Businesses are about to get hammered by what will amount to be the biggest property tax increases in our 185-year history.  This will result in tremendous pain for all Chicago property owners as well as the overall Chicago economy. These increases are draconian, and what’s worse is the lack of transparency. 

 Property owners have received their property tax reassessment invoices from the office of Assessor Joe Berrios.  Many people are shocked to find that the assessed valuation of their properties have gone up between 20 to 50%, and some as high as 70% from just 3 years ago.  

 In February taxpayers are going to get another shock when they receive their final tax invoices showing their actual property tax numbers with even greater increases in the actual amounts they owe.  

 While everyone will suffer, our homeowners, the middle class and small businesses will be most directly affected.  

 Regardless of what Assessor Berrios says our homes are worth, the reality is that home prices are stagnant or declining, leaving more than 116,000 Chicago homeowners owing more on their mortgages than their home is worth – more underwater mortgages than New York,  Los Angeles, and Boston combined.

 The first step in addressing the skyrocketing real estate taxes is to give the citizens of Chicago an honest explanation.  That simply hasn’t happened.  Chicagoans deserve transparency into how these numbers are being calculated and when this will all end.  People cannot plan for massive uncertainty.  

Vallas Plan for Addressing the Skyrocketing taxes:

1. A cap of 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, on property taxes on owner occupied residences, apartments and businesses.

– Rate of inflation is commonly 2-3%, meaning this is in effect a 2-3% cap a majority of the time.

– This would protect Chicago homeowners and renters in rapidly gentrifying areas.

– Enactment of a cap would not have the adverse impact of shifting the tax burden to other non-residential property owners, as increasing the homeowner’s exemption has often done.

– This is because the cap does not reduce the taxable base but merely limits the tax increase to an affordable level.

2. Allow seniors to freeze their property taxes until the property is sold.

– A major problem in gentrifying neighborhoods is that low-and moderate-income seniors are choosing to sell because they cannot afford rising property taxes in gentrifying neighborhoods and cannot afford the upkeep on their homes.

– An existing State of Illinois Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program, available for low-income seniors, could be expanded and vigorously marketed in gentrifying neighborhoods.

– The program could also be extended to seniors at higher income levels who own and live in multiple family homes in at-risk areas, who keep their rents affordable.

– Prioritize keeping families in their homes and simplifying the process for accessing and renewing available tax relief programs.

– Priority should be given to keeping residents in their homes by amending tax delinquency and providing support to avoid forecloses. One way would be for homeowners and landlords to exchange equity share in lieu of taxes or to allow to secure the property at tax sale and allow the residents to remain.

– There is also an already existing array of programs designed to reduce the impact of property taxes through exemptions, credits, grants or deferrals. The process for accessing these programs is both cumbersome and confusing and the programs currently must be renewed annually. This imposes a hardship on the elderly especially. I will simplify access and make renewal automatic.

3. Partner with nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups to provide support and infrastructure for homeowner appeals. 

– Unlike the infrastructure of income tax clinics that help many low-income families prepare their tax return and claim the EITC, there is no similar infrastructure to help low-income families appeal their property tax assessments. 

– The assessor’s office does outreach, but fact remains that low-income homeowner’s appeal less frequently than upper income taxpayers. 

– Be aggressive in opposing property tax appeals by large commercial property owners and  challenge under-assessments of large commercial properties.

– As Crain’s, the Chicago business magazine pointed out, many downtown commercial properties are shockingly under-assessed. 

– The real estate tax system is a prime example of an industry of politically connected lobbyists and attorneys who have set up shop making hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to appeal their client’s property taxes, shortchanging schools and shifting the burden to homeowners. 

– Accurately assessing commercial properties would help shift the tax base away from homeowners.

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