On Monday, the City Council put on the agenda a vote on the "Bring Chicago Home" Ordinance, which if passed would put an additional tax on the sale of high-priced properties in Chicago. The money raised would support shelter and support for unhoused people in the city.
With 25 aldermen missing the special meeting, the vote did not take place as there was not a quorum. One of those missing was Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward), who was roundly criticized for his absence. In today's newsletter, he explains his non-appearance and his feelings about the ordinance (of which he is a co-sponsor).
"BRING CHICAGO HOME ORDINANCE UPDATE
On Monday, a few of my colleagues used Rule 41 to force a vote on the Bring Chicago Home Ordinance that would place a referendum on the February 28 ballot that calls for a raise in the real estate transfer tax for properties valued at $1M or more.
The use of Rule 41 is unusual because it skips being heard in its assigned committee and goes straight to the entire City Council body. When this occurs, a 2/3 vote is required to have it pass, which would be 34 City Council members.
I was not able to attend Monday’s meeting due to a prior appointment, but a vote was not called because the City Council did not reach the minimum 26 Aldermen for quorum. At yesterday’s City Council meeting, this ordinance was not brought up for a vote.
I have been a co-sponsor of this ordinance because I agree with my colleagues that we need to find ways to fund additional units for residents experiencing homelessness. I have been frustrated that this matter has been in limbo for over two years, with neither side compromising to allow this ordinance to move forward.
I also strongly believe that every proposed ordinance needs to be assessed for unintended consequences. When analyzing this ordinance with colleagues, I recently learned there’s a 19% vacancy rate in our downtown office buildings due to COVID, and now 10% of these buildings are in foreclosure. I have also heard concerns that these fees will be transferred to renters in residential building sales, causing their rents to go up.
This goes directly against the intentions of this ordinance, which aims to improve housing access and stability for all Chicagoans. My colleagues and I have an obligation to understand the full picture of Chicago’s fragile real estate market before we make any decision on where we stand. We need a comprehensive study on the exact revenue and potential consequences this increased real estate transfer tax would have in a post-Covid working world before any decisions are made.
I believe that this ordinance has the potential to be a win-win solution for both our City’s housing needs and tax base, but that requires negotiations and further investigation to address the possible serious unintended consequences.
Good legislators must be good negotiators, so I will continue to encourage my colleagues to negotiate in good faith to make this a win-win solution. Housing is a human right, and we must do everything possible to help those who have no place to call their home."