MAYFAIR — Advocates of the Bring Chicago Home ordinance are trying to muster more support from Northwest Side alderpeople.
The Bring Chicago Home ordinance would help provide housing to 68,000 unhoused or housing unstable Chicagoans by restructuring the real estate transfer tax. The long-awaited proposal was officially introduced into City Council last month, and it’s been backed by Mayor Brandon Johnson, yet alderpeople remain largely split on the ordinance.
Members of 39th Ward Neighbors United, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Communities United held a Monday rally at Ald. Samantha Nugent’s 39th Ward office, 4200 W. Lawrence Ave., to ask her to support the proposal. Over 50 people attended the rally, according to the sign-in sheet, said Mary Tarullo, associate director of policy and strategy at the coalition.
The rally began outside the alderman’s office with speeches from organizers and supporters, some of whom brought their children and carried large signs that read, “Housing Is A Human Right,” and “Housing Solves Homelessness.”
“I have never come across another piece of legislation that seems like it could sustainably fund the types of services that people desperately need and that we’re gonna continue to have more of — we’re going to continue to get more asylum seekers, migrants and refugees,” said Kaleigh Martin, a member of the neighborhood group who lives in the ward. “The problem is not going away.”
Organizers decided to target Nugent about the proposal after hearing strong support for the ordinance from 39th Ward residents but getting silence from the alderman, they said.
After speaking outside, about 30 rallygoers entered Nugent’s office 30 minutes before it closed and were greeted by the alderman, who thanked them for their advocacy but did not answer any questions on her stance for Bring Chicago Home.
“Bring Chicago Home was one of several things we’re presented with. … There’s also several [other] referenda that are put in the Rules Committee,” Nugent told the crowd. “I’m actually doing a lot of work and research on my own. I support advocacy. I love that you guys are out here advocating. but I don’t have an answer for you tonight.”
Nugent said she is still reviewing the proposal but that she’s fielded calls for supporting Bring Chicago Home. She highlighted her office’s work in helping the new arrivals at the two shelters in her ward and assisting with those who are homeless in the area, but she did not say more.
Neighbors tried to ask more questions, but the alderman didn’t budge, largely ignoring constituents. They began to shout phrases like, “68K need a place to stay,” and, “Housing is a human right.”
Nugent’s lack of firm stance angered and disappointed people in the office, who took turns asking questions while Nugent stood in front of them with a blank face.
Despite being asked to leave as the confrontation heated up, people stayed in the office until it closed at 7 p.m., calling her silence an embarrassment.
“What a failure of leadership,” one man said to the alderman.
Nugent later reiterated her message to Block Club, saying people don’t want to hear answers they do not like and she hasn’t made a decision about the proposed ordinance.
Veronica Aguirre, who lives nearby, was disappointed l the alderman chose not to engage with her constituents about the issue.
“We didn’t get any kind of responses from her. … We asked her, ‘What can we do, as constituents, to help you make that decision?’ But no word from her at all,” Aguirre said. “I don’t think this is a hard decision — it’s about human rights. What’s so hard about that?”
The rally was the third recent event from Bring Chicago Home supporters. Earlier on Monday, Members of the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance and Palenque LSNA held a vigil in front of 31st Ald. Felix Cardona Jr.’s office, 4606 W. Diversey Ave., to “change his heart and mind” to support the ordinance, organizers said.
A staffer for Cardona declined to comment.
About 50 people attended the event, but no one from the office was present, Tarullo said.
A town hall was held over the weekend to try and gain the support of Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th). More events to target North and Northwest Side alderman opposed or undecided on the proposal are in the works, Tarullo said.
The Bring Chicago Home campaign has for years called for the city to increase the tax rate buyers pay on property sales over $1 million, with the additional funds raised dedicated to providing permanent affordable housing and wraparound services for homeless people.
Property buyers currently pay a one-time tax of 0.75 percent on all sales, regardless of final price.
Under the revised version of the plan, people buying properties under $1 million would see reduced taxes. Real estate sales over $1 million would see higher rates only on the portion of the sale above $1 million.
The proposal was sent last month to the rules committee, where legislation is often diverted to delay or kill it entirely, but advocates have said they expect it to come before the committee soon. It’s been delayed to November.
If passed by the City Council this year, the Bring Chicago Home initiative will go in front of Chicago voters during a referendum next year.
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