AUBURN GRESHAM — Mayor Lori Lightfoot released more information Monday about a $5.3 million plan to help Chicagoans pay for security cameras for their homes or businesses.
The Home and Business Protection Rebate Program, initially announced in April, will provide reimbursements to people who buy security cameras and a year of video storage, as well as outdoor lighting and vehicle GPS trackers. Residents will be eligible for up to $1,020 in rebates through the program, Lightfoot’s office said Monday.
The initiative is part of Lightfoot’s broader public safety strategy and aims to make Chicagoans feel more safe despite the high levels of gun violence seen so far this year and since the start of the pandemic.
“We are taking a public health approach to community safety, and that means activating resources across a range of programs, policy changes, and activities,” Lightfoot said in a statement, adding that the rebate program “is part of a larger strategy that includes historic investments in affordable housing, mental health, and violence prevention.”
Lightfoot said the reimbursement idea came up at town hall meetings across Chicago earlier this year.
“We heard loud and clear from residents that this is something they wanted,” she said.
What the city will cover
- Up to $225 per camera (cost of camera and tax only) for a maximum of 2 cameras, or a total $450 reimbursement
- One year of subscription costs for cloud-based video storage systems for a maximum of $150 per annual subscription
- Up to $100 per light (cost of light and tax only) for a maximum of 2 lights, or a total $200 reimbursement
- Up to $50 per vehicle GPS tracking device (cost device and tax only) for a maximum of 2 devices, or a total $100 reimbursement
- One year of subscription costs for GPS tracking applications as required for use by the vehicle GPS tracking device manufacturer up to $120
Am I eligible?
Applicants must be an owner or tenant of a property used as a primary residence, business, religious institution or nonprofit organization within the City of Chicago OR own or lease a vehicle registered to a primary address within the City of Chicago.
Tenants can also apply for the rebate if they get consent from the property owner.
How to get reimbursed
Once the cameras, lights or GPD devices are installed, applicants can click here to apply for reimbursement. All items must have been purchased on or after Monday to qualify.
Applicants must provide documentation that verifies proof of purchase and photo documentation that verifies installation, according to the mayor’s office.
If approved, applicants will be reimbursed within 90 days.
Do I have to register my camera with the Chicago Police Department?
When the rebate program was first announced this spring, reimbursement was only guaranteed for those who registered their cameras with the Chicago Police Department, which would enable officers to use the footage during criminal investigations.
This mandate was scrapped, however, and police registration is now optional.
Police will not have direct access to cameras and won’t be able to access footage without consent, but registering would “simply allow CPD to request camera footage in the event of a crime,” Lightfoot’s office said.
“Working with our communities across Chicago is the only way we can strengthen public safety,” said Glen Brooks, CPD Director of Community Policing. “By registering your camera with CPD, it will help detectives solve crimes more efficiently and take violent offenders off the street quicker.”
Those who want to register their cameras with police can do so here.
What if I can’t afford to pay for the equipment up front?
Lightfoot said Monday she does not want cost to deter people from participating in the program.
“If you don’t have the resources up front, don’t worry, we will help you,” Lightfoot said. “If you’re not able to do the installation yourself, don’t worry, we’re here to help you.”
The mayor said she would request more funding from City Council if demand outpaces the allotted $5.3 million. It was not immediately clear how those without funds can apply to access security equipment, but Block Club reached out to Lightfoot’s office and will update this story when that information becomes available.
Lightfoot said the city will also partner with community organizations to distribute equipment in communities “that are considered priority based on historical trends of violence.”
These neighborhoods include:
- Auburn Gresham
- Chicago Lawn
- East Garfield Park
- Greater Grand Crossing
- Humboldt Park
- New City
- North Lawndale
- South Lawndale
- South Shore
- West Englewood
- West Garfield Park
- West Pullman
Read more about the program here.
Eugenia Toni Curtis, who has lived in Auburn Gresham more than 50 years, said one thing she “hates more than anything in the world,” is when crime stories end with “no one is in custody.” She said she hopes more residential cameras might help solve that.
“Maybe if everyone had this camera and they could see who the culprit is and they could identify him, maybe they could stop that slogan I hate,” she said.
Curtis thought the program was a good idea and had “every intention of getting one” when it was announced in spring, but the prices of residential cameras gave her pause, she said.
Getting more details about the available reimbursements was the step she needed to make the purchase, Curtis said.
“I was checking out the prices to see which ones I could afford, and I found several that are ones I can afford now,” Curtis said. “I have one neighbor on the block who has one, and she’s really happy with hers. She calls me up when things are happening to let me know. I think with both of us having one, that would be helpful for our block.”
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