Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More TIF Funds To Take Properties Off Tax Rolls

Seems like Ald. Shiller is trying to spend the remaining $50 million or so of Wilson Yard TIF funds before she leaves office in May.  It's Christmas all over again, if you happen to be one of her BFFs, like (in this instance) Voice of the People.

A $5.9 million dollar gift!   For "the acquisition and rehabilitation of four buildings containing a total of 30 units of affordable multi-family rental units."  These units are located at
  • 4509 N. Hazel Street/852 W. Sunnyside Avenue
  • 4426 N. Magnolia Avenue
  • 912-14 W. Montrose Avenue
  • 4813 N. Winthrop Avenue.
This is in addition to millions of dollars in Wilson Yard TIF money that Helen has previously awarded Voice of the People for similar properties at
  • 4416-26 N. Clifton
  • 4416-22 N. Magnolia
  • 900 W. Windsor Avenue
  • 4431 N. Clifton Avenue
  • 927 W. Wilson Avenue
The rubber stamp CDC approved this new project yesterday, and now it goes before the rubber stamp City Council.

Our favorite line from the report:  "These four properties ... are among the few remaining low-income family rental properties in the Uptown community."  Read about it here, here, and here.

And the empty storefronts at Wilson Yard stare back at us.  The "crusty" Wilson Red Line stop gets uglier and more neglected every day, and the measly $3 million Helen has allotted to it from the TIF won't help much, even if the work ever does get started. 

Helen's apparently given up even the pretense that every penny we're putting into the Wilson Yard TIF will be for anything except affordable housing.   Historic preservation?  Eliminating blight?  Incentives to get businesses to come to Uptown?  Feh.  More affordable housing, and fewer properties on the tax rolls, that's what Uptown needs to put it back on the track to being economically healthy!

Can it be May 16th yet?  Please?  We're sure Voice of the People will be wearing black armbands that day as their bestie and benefactor, Helen Shiller, leaves office.


  1. Is there anything we can do to stop this?

  2. The 5.9 million could go a long towards educating the young of uptown and at the same time hiring a supplemental security force to protect the public from the gang violence.

  3. The 4400 Block of Magnolia is doomed! What it is now, like 60% low income housing?

    Someone should go to City Council when this is voted on (and rubber stamped) and hold up a huge posterboard of all properties in Sheridan Park - highlighting in RED those that are government subsidized. The visual alone would blow her "some of the last affordable housing units...blah, blah" bullshit out of the water.

    She will continue to salt the earth until her last day in office.

  4. F@#$ this!!! That is a horrible idea. I'd rather have Helen Schiller stand up on the el platform with the 5.9 million and start making it rain! Everyone's outrage over possible TIF money going to Sedgewick Properties should take a backseat to your new found ire over yet another unbelievable move by (job) killer schiller.

  5. Oh and, read the fine print in the 2nd link provided - this housing will be preserved as affordable housing for at least 40 years...

  6. Where in God's name are all the people who want her job after May? How about some press releases to call her out about this? Demand her to release ALL the TIF documents.

  7. I agree with uptown vegetarian, it's shocking to me that not a single one of the aldermanic candidates was on top of this before yesterday's committee vote.

    This is a TERRIBLE development. We all know about the problems on Magnolia Street, and Clifton is just two blocks away with its own history of crime problems.

  8. NOTE:

    The project also has the endorsement of Organization of the Northeast and State Representative
    Gregory Harris.

    Greg should know better.

  9. This is all within the same blocks as the recent uptick in violent activity we have had in the past few years correct?

    Man that Helen is one hell of an urban planner. Mixed community my ass. Woman has no clue what that means....unless it is low income. Its all for her own doing, never mind the fact that we live in a war zone.

    Its going to take 10 years to clean up the mess this woman has created.

    "Crime is not my problem"
    -Helen Shiller

  10. The alleged Halloween shooter lives in one of the properties on the list.

  11. you've got to be kidding me....and well said Uptown Veg - WHERE ARE ALL THE CANDIDATES and what are they saying....

  12. Ok, anyone have any ideas on what we as a group can do to stop this?

  13. Harris is simply bleeding respect, this week.

    Last night he towed the party line and supported the tax hike (despite what he'd posted on his website re: necessary cuts), and now this.

    Just when you think you can trust a guy.

  14. what will happen if this gets approved? will the neighborhood get worse per se?

  15. This is incredible! There's $ to be had in low income housing.In what suburbs do the board members of some of these organizations live in i.e. Voice of the People etc. etc., far from the criminal infested streets of Uptown!

  16. Who is DEBRA CLAYBRON? She is an agent of that LLC.

  17. The block won't get worse. I believe it will just allow for improvements and the potential purchase of these properties that are already subsidized housing so they can remain that way and not get converted to condos. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this.

    These buildings do have some good neighbors living in them. However, some units are definitely housing members of the Black P Stones gang.

    Assuming the rubber stamp gang (aka, city council) hold true to form, the only way to rid these properties of gang members is to keep pressure on the Voice of the People organization.

  18. Voice of the People hasn't exactly proven itself as a great property manager. I have no hope that they will in any sense turn these buildings around.

  19. OK. I have to rant here for a moment. I do not know the details of this transaction. I understand that UU has an anti-Shiller slant.

    If it is true that Shiller gifted this money to VOP, it is COMPLETELY improper. Government should not be spending taxpayer money on charities. Charities should always be privately funded.

    Call me a right-winger if you want... but that is the truth.

  20. The naivite and simple-mindedness of our citizenry regarding TIFs and subsidies is really incredible.

    "Taxpayer money should not be used for charities". REALLY? I don't think so, either, but most of the non-profits in this city, including charities AND other non-profits such as chambers of commerce, community councils and development corporations receive generous federal or local subsidies.

    People still believe that TIF districts will actually cure blight and enhance the tax base when we have ample history to prove that they do the opposite. Yet every time a TIF is proposed, there is a sizable cadre of local citizens, often well-educated and affluent people, who lap up the official spin.

    "Affordable housing" will make the poor better housed and reduce blight? How can people still believe this after 80 years of crime-plagued housing projects that have to be torn down after 20 to 40 years; buildings and neighborhoods wrecked by Section 8 rentals, and our housing market and financial system destroyed by housing bubbles created by housing subsidies for builders, lenders, and borrowers? All government housing programs have done is blight neighborhoods and drive the cost housing up out the roof and make life more expensive for everybody, while there are more homeless people than ever?

    Why do people keep believing the same spin and lies even though they can see the results in front of them? How can anybody believe that what didn't work when people tried thousands of times to do it, is going to work any better this time?

    And why do we keep electing the same people over and over? Whose fault is it really that people like Helen Schiller and Richard Daley and Joe Moore are able to get elected for 4 terms no matter how badly they perform?

  21. Government should not be spending taxpayer money on charities. Charities should always be privately funded.This is the Chicago Way. It's been happening for a century.

    This is how politicians seed their plantation.

    The math is obvious. Helen has used the TIF to gift tens of millions of dollars to her friends and donors that own the properties. It's not even a sound use of capital to finance affordable housing. Helen actually spends about three times what it would cost to provide affordable housing.

    Do you have the votes? The mayoral candidates need some names before they'll start listening to you.

  22. Brennan,

    You are so right. There are much cheaper ways to create "affordable" housing. This is pure BS. It shows a complete lack of financial knowledge and urban planning. Following an ideology does not solve any problems, it just creates them.

  23. "I understand that UU has an anti-Shiller slant."

    Huh? The facts are the facts. And the way that our tax dollars are directed (via these wonderful TIFS) is just wrong.

  24. Are any of the regular posters going to be attending any of the forums? ....besides Wiseguy, at least he said he would which is cool, he is a voter too.

    Our first one is tomorrow, no link is necessary because y'all know my name by now and whats going on, multiple posts on this matter and Uptown Update has done their part, but so far, unless your holding back and I guess we will see, little interest, very few comments.

    There is also a meeting regarding the Wilson Station coming up as posted by UptownUpdate, will any of the comment-makers be attending? Again seemingly little interest, certainly not 25 comments in a matter of hours, and this is about a potential basket of Federal funds, its up to us...I hope their is more interest and the community actually turns out for that one.

    Our forum is one thing, participate or don't, but that meeting at St. Augustine could pay big dividends for the aforementioned Wilson Station.

    Will any of you go?

    I am just curious?



  25. @the The North Coast - Right on Brother or Sister.

    @ Stark Mad - Yes, this blog does have an anti-Shiller stance, and I have called them out for being unfair in the past. I felt the personal attacks were very FOX News. I do not like snarky or mean comments.

    Anyway, I think 47% voted against her in the last election. ( Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I am close.) Yet she continues to spend money according to her own agenda. She has no interest in representing the voters. Only her own personal agenda. She is a lame duck.


    Also, I personally like Alderman Shiller. She believes in what she is doing. But her policies are idiotic, and I am glad she soon to be gone.

  26. There should be no more TIFs.

    If the taxes, especially property tax, are lower, people would come and invest and vice versa. Armed with the right lawyers and politicians, the big guys are making everyone, landlords and tenants alike, pay for their developments. It is pretty much like a gold rush. Ordinary guys should not subsidize wealthy developers and huge construction companies.

    These contractors are scoring some serious capital gains to do any of these rehab jobs.

    In the meantime, none of the small business in our Ward are getting a dime of benefit from any of the TIF deal except seeing their tax bills going thru their roofs.

    With the Springfield tax hike, more businesses and people are just leaving us to nearby states. Then you have a smaller tax payers based to support the ever increasing government spending cycles, the end result would be another Detroit....

  27. On page 6 of the 1st link, the grand total appears to be about $11.5 million for 30 apartment?

    That is almost $384,500 for each rehabbed apartment. You can build new at much cheaper cost.

    Why not use some of these money for our struggling small business community?

  28. OK...I think that the new alderman and the neighborhood organizations need to put heads together with some legal-eagles, and make plans to unravel the agreements with Voice. If Voice can manage to sidestep housing codes and manage to ignore law requiring that convicted felons NOT be allowed in Section 8 housing, then we ought to be able to creatively find ways to either yank back those millions of tax dollars or gain control of each of those properties. And if the City gains control of those properties from Voice, then it can eliminate the "30-year" or "40-year" requirement for those properties to remain "affordable housing". What City Council gives, a new City Council can take away. No more of this crap where the taxpayers in the TIFs have no voice in how their taxes are spent--or given away.

    And yes, as someone has pointed out, Voice isn't exactly a stellar property management organization. They've had properties in other neighborhoods come under city control because of their mismanagement, and judging by their "ability" to manage their properties on Clifton and Racine--they have reached (and maintained) their highest level of incompetence and corruption many years ago. Debra Claybron is the chief--she ignores concerns raised by tenants and neighboring buildings and packs both her management and the buildings with her family and friends, who act as enforcers to keep good tenants in check. She and her organization are just begging to be investigated for misuse of government money, for corruption, and for repeated ongoing violations of city codes.

  29. OMG my rant continues into the morning. Not only is it $384,000 per unit, but it is section 8 so VOP gets more money from the government. Also,"$64,000 per unit in physical improvements." WTF. That is outrageous.

  30. Well "$384,500 for each rehabbed apartment" seems to be about the rate that went into the apartments at Wilson Yard. Nice that see can pay all of her friends in the neighborhood about the same amount of money for each apartment they provide. How many police could have been hired for 11 million dollars? But hey Helen, crime is not really your issue. If only there was some evidence that crime was a problem in the area.

  31. I hope that everyone against this crap is writing State Representative Greg Harris, right? After all, his name is on one of the documents supporting this plan.

    Here is his email:

  32. Isn't their a strong connection between Voice of the People and candidate Befekadu ????

  33. Great. That's pretty much my whole block. Many of those buildings have good market-rate paying tenants. That is good for the neighborhood. By leaving only condos and assisted housing she is creating the segregation and divisions she blames others for.

  34. Supporting Helen's plans without mentioning a concern about the extreme lack of community input is just enabling her behavior. This, and the Wilson L continues to be ignored. I'm disappointed.

  35. Is there a way to fight this? Can we start a petition?

  36. What a joke. Even when I put on my silver lining pants, and think maybe this money will eventually raise property values surrounding these theoretically improved low income residences, I quickly think of all the more pressing needs for the entire neighborhood, and how obscene this amount of money is for the purpose. That price tag should've been deemed cost-prohibitive -- a term clearly not in Shiller's vocab.

  37. Just spoke with Greg Harris...if this is truly new its news to him. This is absolutely fricking ridiculous.

  38. I emailed Rep. Harris and this is the response I got:

    There are two venues for the public to protest TIF expenditures is at the public hearings at the City's Community Development Commission and then the City Council Finance Committee.

    Rep. Greg Harris
    13th District

  39. Jamers-

    I emailed him too (although I am still waiting for my response).

    I suggest letting him know that the community has tried to do that with no success.

    Unfortunately the only thing that gets people motivated to do the right thing is a journalist.

  40. I must say, I have been having a lengthy email exchange with Greg. He has not been dodging my rather pointed questions. We are in sharp disagreement thus far... and I let him know my thoughts, etc on both this and the recent tax hike.

    To his credit, he has offered to speak with him on the phone as we still have some fundamental disagreements on spending of tax money, whether it be for my property taxes being used for this and the income tax...So far, Greg has indicated that some state money is being used for these homes (?) as well as some TIF money, thus his input.

    I plan on speaking with Greg tomorrow on the phone and will be happy to share with everyone the rest of the conversation as best I can paraphrase...hope that helps.

  41. I will say this about Greg, he is responsive to his constituents.

    I look forward to seeing his side of this issue.

  42. Rob - I too have had an email exchange with Greg, though not very heated. I was a bit astonished that he didn't know of this particular plan, but he was honest and said that he did approve some state funds for exisiting affordable housing. I'm glad he is listening and responding. That's more than some of our elected officials would do.

    My emphasis with Greg has been that there truly is a need for this type of housing, but Uptown has more than its share - and a healthy balance of incomes per HUD standards does not exist. To think that the 4400 block of Magnolia (the site of several shootings lately) will continue to be primarily low income housing for the next 40 years, is just plain awful urban planning.

    Shiller may think she is doing the "right" thing, but she is really just flipping off the community in her finals months in office.

  43. I sure wish those additional state funds could have been used for the Wilson L.

  44. Serious question. How hard do you think it would be to stage 500 people outside her office on Monday to protest her misguided TIF allocation?

    I only say monday because it gives some time to rustle up the bodies that would be home during her office hours.

    Also, gives time to focus the mob's voice onto one central issue that we'd like to see funding increased into.

    Unfortunately, I can't organize such a thing, as I find myself at the mercy of work. Is it possible to stage a protest? even if its 50? 100? Anything?

  45. Allowing someone an allowance of nearly $400,000 to fix an apartment is just beyond most people. Especially when you can find foreclosed condos going for under $40k apiece in this market.

  46. Andy, if I'm not mistaken, the most important issue isn't that there are more cost-effective alternatives to spending nearly $400K per apartment--the most important issue is that once again, Shiller is throwing an immense amount of money from one small group of property owners to some of her cronies. And the small group of property owners once again have had NO say in the wisdom of throwing away their money to a corrupt and incompetent "housing corporation"...not to mention that Shiller is trying to lock-in that corrupt and incompetent organization so it will have a death-hold on the community for another generation. We know you're trying to find some traction for your aldermanic campaign, but throwing a pot full of boiling spaghetti on a wall to see what will stick isn't helping.

  47. Helen still matters. She is walking all over property taxpayers to reward her friends and punish kids and the community. Will you stand for this?

    Every dollar she sends to her friends is one less dollar sent to schools to invest in the future. She is doubling down on the past and she's not even playing her games with her own money. She's wagering with your future.

    What are you going to do about it?

  48. Andy,

    You may be my new choice for alderman, EXACTLY! You could buy a whole building for $400,000.00 right now. I brought this up to a candiate during the last election, and the answer was "there are no programs for that." Government needs to move faster and with the times!

  49. In theory, we must do something to preserve affordable housing. The amount of money per unit I would have to presume would be inclusive of repairs and maintenance allowed over the 40 year term. But what do we really get for our money? Is there an independent auditor that makes certain the funds VOP receives are truly directed for housing purposes, or do they go into the general fund for all the services they provide, some of which are housing services?

    I'd certainly like to see their books and records before spending more.

    I feel strongly we should support hard working low income people with a subsidy.

    For the tenants, a firm understanding that when terms of the lease are violated, they will face eviction. If having adults living off the lease and the subsidized rent is only based on the leaseholder's income, taxpayer's are being cheated. The tenant needs to go.

    If the tenant or their guests engage in illegal behavior or behavior that endangers their neighbors the tenants need to go.

    If the tenant does not send their children and teenagers to school, the tenants need to go.

    My gripe with public housing is that many times it does little to move people out of poverty, but enables them to continue the same bad behavior that put them poverty to begin with.

  50. @ holey moley- I will tell you the TIF funds are not being used to their fullest potential, which means only, that those receiving the funds to do the help are in reality, (from a realistic world view that is)hurting the poor in the first place.

  51. About the TIF- I want to see peoples lives improved in a deeper way. Perhaps if there were more, more professional involved that actually had license to practice what they are practicing- lives could be more appropriately affects.

    Thank you for letting me comment (Jason)

    @ Brennan- I think Helen is actually a gambler and well as a wagerer- so - whatever that's worth

  52. "Helen still matters. She is walking all over property taxpayers to reward her friends and punish kids and the community. Will you stand for this?"

    Brennan, you are totally on the beam, and I agree 100%!
    Damage is being done.....

  53. Serious question. How hard do you think it would be to stage 500 people outside her office on Monday to protest her misguided TIF allocation?

    John, if Ald. Shiller were a normal politician, maybe something like this would be effective. But she's not.

    1 - She does not give a rat's ass about what anyone but Helen Shiller thinks. She says she represents the citizens of the 46th Ward, but she represents her own interests, which are rewarding her cronies and creating as much affordable housing as she can. It doesn't matter if that housing is safe. It doesn't matter if it's maintained well. All that matters is saturating Uptown with affordable housing. And if there are gangs living there or over 100 code violations, too bad. Quantity over quality.

    2 - This woman has not spoken to her constituency in years. The last time was in the Fall of 2009, when she literally sprinted to her car to get away from residents who wanted to talk to her. During a previous demonstration outside her office three years or so ago, she hid, she told the cops to arrest anyone who entered her office, and she asked her favorite thug to sit inside with a baseball bat... to combat people who were protesting the violence on our streets.

    3 - She has been sued twice by residents for not listening to what we want, for Labor Ready and for Wilson Yard. Where else do residents have to raise money and sue their alderman to get her to listen to them? Yet, she has learned nothing from those experiences. A normal person might change their behavior after being sued by those she "represents." But not Helen Shiller. We are the enemy to her.

    4 - Monday is a federal holiday. Helen's office will be closed. Helen herself will be the keynote speaker at Peoples Church, invoking Martin Luther King Jr. Two less similar people, I can barely imagine. It makes me gag to think that she imagines herself carrying out his legacy.

  54. Wow amazing.

    I understand the outrage here, and why people are sick of TIFS,
    just saying that this is why I do support the other development on Montrose, to offset this crap.

    Holy Cow, its like Alderman Shiller is trying to give Uptown itself a heart attack.

    Bad bad bad.

  55. @bear 60640,

    I think I am the only candidate exprssing his/her views without a mask. We don't have to agree on everything. You are free to form your opinions. That is what democracy / this Election is all about. Have a good one.

  56. do relize that all TIFs are required to have at least 20 percent affordable housing units. For the Montrose project the affordable units are not the issue. Rathar its the incredible density, traffic issues and 85 foot plus high zero lot line walls especially along Clarendon that I oppose.

  57. Wow - Once this closes, I will totally write off any hope for 4400-4500 Magnolia. What is happening to that block is such a tragedy, esp. given what has happened there this summer over there.

    In a strange way, I am glad that if she is going to waste our money, we grossly overpay and only add a few more units versus building massive buildings like Wilson Yard.

    To the property owners over there that made an investment with the hope and confidence that natural economic forces would lead to an increasingly invested community, uhhhh, well, I guess that isn't going to happen.

  58. I'm one of the homeowners on 4400-4500 Magnolia, and I know about 40 people that would love to sell their units to Helen for $384,000. No renovation needed! Unfortunately, when you don't feel safe, and the violence and corrupt policies have driven the value of your home through he floor, what options do you have?

  59. Rejected Mop:

    I don't understand the reference to me.

  60. @Jason (tfo)

    Thanks for the compliements. Any solvent government should run like a busienss. Like you said, people can buy an apartment building for $400,000 in this market. Government needs to adjust to the dynamics of the market as well.

  61. Wow, this is a very vibrant post. I'm sure that more can be done about this besides posting our grievances online. It sounds like a compelling news story as well. Hopefully, one of our candidates for alderman or one of our organizations who find this equally reprehensible will formally complain and perhaps contact the media.

    Or, everybody will rant and complain and go back to their daily lives, abstain from voting, and be outraged a while until something reprehensible inevitably happens again. It's the story of Chicago politics since the 1933's when the Democratic machine took over.

    You can learn more about it by listening to the BBC documentary: It's even on wikipedia:

    No matter what your preferred party is, voting Democratic in Chicago is anything but (small d). You're voting for a very well-oiled machine that frustrates the democratic process. The entire infrastructure needs to be voted out, and the only way to do that for sure, is to vote for anyone but the Democrats in Chicago (as painful and counter intuitive as that may seem for some of you).

    As Fast Eddie Vrdolyak once said, if you're going to fight the machine alone, you better bring lunch. All of us voting against the machine in February can get it done before breakfast.