CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County Commissioner has introduced a property tax initiative designed to bring more key city personnel into higher-crime neighborhoods.
Under the proposal sponsored by Commissioner Richard Boykin, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and teachers could get free homes if they agree to live in certain troubled communities. They would have to sign a social contract agreeing to live in the homes and work the neighborhood for five years.
The commissioner and supporters said having professional public servants living in troubled communities would help transform the neighborhoods, and hopefully lower crime.
Boykin said the homes would be paid for with money from a voluntary property tax incentive offered to local businesses. They would agree to pledge a percentage of the money they save to a special neighborhood fund.
“If … you lower their assessment by 25 percent, or by 15 percent, and you ask them to give 5 percent back into a fund, that’s a savings of 10 percent for them,” she said.
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said having those professionals in the neighborhoods would be good for the community.
“When people invest into a community, it has a tendency to change a community; and when it comes to vacant lots, abandoned housing, we certainly can use all the help we can,” she said.
Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios said he is fully behind the effort.