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Property taxes are skyrocketing in gentrifying neighborhoods in Chicago

Property taxes skyrocketing in gentrifying neighborhoods
Property taxes skyrocketing in gentrifying neighborhoods 03:03

CHICAGO (CBS) -- By the weekend, most Cook County property owners will be getting their tax bills – and for some, the jump in what is owed may force them out of the neighborhoods they have called for decades.

As CBS 2's Chris Tye reported, the Chicago neighborhoods that are gentrifying fastest are seeing their property values skyrocket.

That's good news if you're selling, but bad news if you're trying to rent – and really bad news if you're just getting by in a gentrifying neighborhood. What this all comes down to is the taxable value — and the tax owed — is about to soar.

"It feels astronomical," said Moises Moreno.

And insiders say the consequences of the skyrocketing property values are not just a feeling – it's all real.

"It's a life-or-death decision for many families," Moreno said.

Just south and west of downtown, Moreno runs The Pilsen Alliance. For decades, the streets of Pilsen have been home to a huge number of Latinos – but more recently, the neighborhood has seen a surge in gentrification.

More expensive homes enter, and they raise the value of the entire neighborhood — and the taxes everyone pays. It means higher costs for owners and renters.

"'My property tax is too damn high' - they have to pass it on to the renters," Moreno said.

Moreno said homeowners will feel the effects of the spike first, and renters will feel it on their next lease.

"In many cases, we're hearing it not just from homeowners - but longtime business owners as well," Moreno said.

A map from the Cook County Treasurer shows in purple the parts of the city seeing the sharpest spikes in property taxes. The areas in pink saw the sharpest drops. 


The average tax bill in Chicago is going up 8 percent this year.

In the Lower West Side community area where Pilsen is located, the jump averages 46 percent. In Avondale - another gentrifying Latino community — the jump averages 27 percent.

We examined one relatively new build in Avondale. Its property tax bill is going up 103 percent —$6,600 more than last year.

"They are becoming just like Lakeview and the lakefront," said Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. "They're becoming a very desirable place to live - like living in SoHo in New York.

Pappas says while improvement is the goal, overpaying for that improvement may be backfiring.

"Everybody says to me the same thing — I've got to get out of here," Pappas said.

Not all taxes are going up. In largely Black communities, there are huge drops.

West Garfield Park is down an average of 45 percent from last year, while Englewood is down 44 percent.

The drops may represent an invitation for investment in those communities, but in communities like Pilsen, it amounts to a fresh push to leave and find somewhere else to live.

"It stings, because let's say you do sell it - where do you go? After you pay the taxes, where do you go?" Pappas said. "It's not like anything is cheap around here anymore."

Gentrifying neighborhoods see big jump in property taxes 02:02

It is a tale of two cities — with one big question for those trying to lead it.

"The mayoral candidates - this is going to be a big issue for the upcoming municipal elections," Moreno said. "We'd like to know where they stand, and what commitments they can make sure to make sure that burden is less on working-class and middle-class families here in Chicago." 

In addition to property values rising, operational costs are also going way up. City Hall increased the amount of money it needed for operations by $94 million, and Chicago Public Schools increased its tax levy by $114 million this year.

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