CHICAGO (CBS) — Time is running out for Cook County homeowners who are behind on property taxes to pay up.
Those past due taxes, more than 50,000 of them, will soon be put up for sale.
“Final bill before tax sale. That really scared me,” said Miller Rodgers.
The reality that Rodgers could lose his home of more than 60 years because of unpaid property taxes didn’t hit until he received the delinquency notice in the mail.
“I panicked. I really did,” he said.
Like thousands of others in Cook County, Rodgers had fallen behind on his property taxes. He retired in 1993 and said it’s hard to make ends meet on his fixed income.
“Twenty-five years later, that money doesn’t go half as far as it went back in the day,” he said.
Currently there are more than 57,000 properties with unpaid 2017 property taxes, some owing more than $200,000, others less than $100, but no matter the amount, if the taxes aren’t paid by May 2, the overdue taxes will be put up for public sale on May 3.
In neighborhoods like Pilsen, community organizations fear that could lead to gentrification.
“It’s really part one of the cheapest ways for investors to be able to retain properties, take possession of properties, because a majority of the times these homes are paid off,” said Lizette Carretero, with the Resurrection Project. “So someone wasn’t able to pay $1,000. You could potentially lose your home because of $1,000.”
So the Resurrection Project asked the Cook County Treasurers office to help explain what homeowners can do to keep their properties off the annual tax sale list.
“We don’t want this to happen,” said Manuel Venegas with the Cook County Treasurer’s Office. “Don’t want that people can potentially lose their houses because they owe in some cases $150, $300.”
Venegas said the treasurer’s office will work with homeowners to make sure they’re getting all their exemptions and even come up with a payment plan.
Thanks to his tax refund, Rodgers was able to pay off his delinquent bill, but he’s already stressing about the next payment.
“You have to cut back on your food or medicine or something like that,” Rodgers said. “I’m working on that one.”
Go to the Cook County Treasurer’s website to see if your property is on the list.
The Resurrection Project will host another workshop Saturday at 11 a.m. in Back of the Yards at 4600 S. Wood St.