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The Mechanics
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Housing Thu Jan 13 2011

Capitalizing on Foreclosure: TIFs and Housing

Sweet Home Chicago, a coalition of housing advocates, continue their push to use tax increment financing (TIF) funds to purchase and rehab foreclosed properties and provide them as affordable housing. This seems like a reasonable idea; no need to reinvent the wheel, though, I'll just go ahead and quote Progress Illinois' Micah Maidenburg who said it so well:

Foreclosures radiate outward. Lawns don't get mowed, maintenance is deferred, and empty homes with boarded-up windows are prime targets for vandalism. Property values decline -- each home within 250 feet of a foreclosure loses 1 percent of its value due to the dispossess, according to one study, and the worth of the seized home itself sinks by 27 percent. When a few foreclosures cluster on a single block, entire neighborhoods swing into reverse. Gloria Warner, a member of the community group Action Now, described at a press conference yesterday how foreclosures are socking her community in West Englewood:

On its face, the proposal would ameliorate the social repercussions of the foreclosure crisis, while also achieving to some degree "scattered site" affordable housing, which is key to breaking the pattern of ghettoizing the city by social class and race. There is some evidence that residents have more incentive to take care of and protect their residences in scattered-site programs.

One question that comes to mind: would relying on TIF money to maintain a scattered-site housing program prevent needed reforms to the TIF program?

 
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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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