Dozens rally for the Bring Chicago Home resolution outside the Thompson Center before a City Council meeting on Nov. 7, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CITY HALL — A controversial resolution aimed at raising the city’s real estate transfer tax on high-end properties to fund homelessness prevention passed the full City Council Tuesday.

The measure, known as Bring Chicago Home, will now head to voters in a ballot referendum question in March.

Progressive activists and anti-homelessness groups have for years advocated to increase the tax rate buyers pay on property sales over $1 million, with the additional revenue dedicated to providing permanent affordable housing and wraparound services for people who are unhoused. The policy was a central promise of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s mayoral campaign earlier this year.

Property buyers in Chicago currently pay a one-time flat tax of 0.75 percent on all sales, regardless of final price. In September, Johnson and Council allies introduced a revised version of Bring Chicago Home featuring a marginal, tiered rate instead of a flat tax.

Under that plan, people buying properties under $1 million would see reduced property transfer taxes. Real estate sales over $1 million would see higher rates only on the portion of the sale above $1 million.

The rate proposal includes:

  • Property sales under $1 million would be taxed at .6 percent, down from .75 percent.
  • Property sales of $1 million-$1.5 million would be taxed at 2 percent.
  • Property sales above $1.5 million would be taxed at 3 percent.

The Council voted 32-17 Tuesday to approve the resolution. It will now appear before Chicago voters during the March 19 primary election — a necessary step for the rate hike to be changed by the City Council.

If Chicagoans approve the measure by a simple majority, alderpeople would then craft an ordinance to actually raise the tax structure and determine the exact programs to be funded. That will require another council vote this spring.

Alderpeople approve the Bring Chicago Home resolution 32-17 at a City Council meeting on Nov. 7, 2023 Credit: Provided

Supporters estimate the rate hike would raise about $100 million annually, which would be reserved to build housing and provide outreach services to people experiencing homelessness.

Bring Chicago Home has been the subject of numerous public hearings in recent months as it works its way through a lengthy approval process.

At each, supporters have argued the measure is a way for the wealthy to pay their fair share to combat homelessness, while groups representing local building owners worry it will hurt an already-struggling Downtown office market.

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