CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, flanked by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, along with other ministers and public officials, is putting the word out about a center to help homeowners with property tax issues.
“Saving people’s homes is where it’s at. And that’s what we’re doing. Every day, all day,” said Pappas.
The West Side pop-up center, located at JLM Abundent Life Center at 2622 W Jackson Blvd in the East Garfield Park neighborhood actually opened six weeks ago. Because it’s seen a steady stream of people looking for help, Pappas decided to draw attention attention to the agency’s service.
“We decided we needed to extend our outreach to the West Side,” noted Pappas.
It’s open Wednesdays and Thurdays from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Staff at Rainbow PUSH at 930 East 50th Street are there for the same dates and hours but also on Fridays from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m.
“This allows people who don’t want to come into the city or the Maywood courthouse,” Pappas said. “We’ve been here six weeks and we’re doing box office.”
Workers from the Cook County Treasurer’s Office answer questions about property tax assessments, specifically for seniors. Pappas said she knew people wanted help but didn’t know how to access services when she opened a similar center at Rainbow PUSH. Pappas said a lot of money was out there and people didn’t know about it.
“Since April, we knew going in that people were owed 74 million in double payments going back 20 years,” Pappas said. “And 44 million in unclaimed money for seniors or senior freeze exemption. So we went in and since April we’ve given back about 20 million.”
Based on the response from people inquiring about what they may be owed, the West Side center hopes to help more people. Pappas said “hundreds” but if demand is great, the site’s dates and times could be extended.
“Since October at least 1,000 have come through I’m telling you it’s the greatest public service out there. And people are getting money back before Christmas. And it’s tax free money so they’re happy,” Pappas said.
It could take anywhere from six to eight weeks for a tax check. But Pappas is confident the service will serve many people who may be owed money and not know it. There are plans for 2020 to not only get the word out but to facilitate the services.
“There’s about 66,000 parcels (homes) that are on the taxpayers’ list so we are going to go out there and try to find these 66,000 people off the list because in many instances, we owe them money,” Pappas said. “Theyre seniors and they don’t know that we owe them money.”
For more information on property tax assessments, visit the Cook County Treasurer’s website to see what may be owed.