Big Win for “Bring Chicago Home Opponent Chicago Southland Black Chamber

By Erica Chiang, The Southland Journal | February 23, 2024

Opponents of the “Bring Chicago Home” referendum question, which aimed at raising real estate transfer taxes on certain properties to combat homelessness, had a big win today as a Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered the referendum question invalid. With early voting and vote-by-mail already underway, the question will remain on the ballot, but votes for that ballot item will not be counted.

The Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce, together with the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago) and several other organizations, filed the lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Elections and the City of Chicago challenging the referendum question and the way it was written.

“The question was very obviously worded in such a way to trick voters into voting ‘Yes’ to the referendum,” said Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dr. Cornel Darden Jr.

The ballot question asks whether voters would permit the Chicago City Council to quadruple the real estate transfer tax on properties valued over $1.5 million, triple the tax on sales of properties sold for $1 million to $1.5 million, while lowering the transfer tax rate on building sales under $1 million.

Furthermore, Darden said that the Chicago Southland Black Chamber of Commerce firmly maintains that the tax will be bad for the businesses and residents of Chicago. “We also believe that the proposed ordinance would hurt both the business climate and rental market for obvious reasons. We are concerned that this proposed tax increase would further damage an already shaky business climate and rental market. When raising the cost of doing business, we can’t expect anything other than those raised costs being passed down the line, affecting consumers,” he said. “We would end up exacerbating the issues we already have with rising rents. It would mean more shuttered businesses and more homelessness, not less.”

It is not yet known if the ruling will be challenged.