Bring Chicago Home referendum defeat appears imminent, homeless advocates regroup | INTERACTIVE MAP

Thursday, March 21, 2024
Bring Chicago Home organizers regroup as defeat seems imminent
As voters weighed the Bring Chicago Home pros and cons to change real estate transfer tax structure, the referendum appeared to be headed for defeat.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Bring Chicago Home referendum, meant to restructure real estate transfer taxes to benefit Chicago's unhoused population, appeared to be headed for defeat Wednesday morning.

Advocates for the homeless now regrouping and trying to figure out what went wrong and led voters to apparently reject the referendum.

The latest number show support for the measure at 46%.

Mayor Brandon Johnson had championed the issue of issue of creating a dedicated revenue stream to help the unhoused all the way through his first year in office, but after successfully getting several other progressive agenda items passed, his efforts on this big one fellshort.

The measure was fiercely contested in court by a coalition of real estate and development groups.

Supporters said they will wait for every mail in ballot to be counted and they plan to keep fighting, while opponents maintain that "Bring Chicago Home" would raise rents.

Bring Chicago Home proposed creating three tax brackets for property sales, applied to sales below $1 million, between $1 million and $1.5 million, and over $1.5 million.

Property sales under $1 million would see a slight cut to their transfer tax, while properties over $1 million and $1.5 million would be taxed at an increased rate on revenue over the respective benchmark.

Despite the defeat, Johnson vowed to continue the fight.

"Even when we experienced, you know, moments like this, you know, we don't we don't ever quit you don't quite on the Chicago, My administration still very much committed to working with coalition and those who would need to better understand what we're up against," he said.

The measure promised to generate $100 million a year to help the unhoused and create affordable housing by raising that real estate transfer tax. But supporters were left disappointed and pointing to several factors that may have led to the defeat.

"But certainly I think that the millions and millions of dollars that real estate lobby opponents put into this brought a lot of misinformation really struck at people financial concerns," said 49th Ward Ald. Maria Haddan.

Opponents, including one alderman who represents the downtown business community, said his constituents are breathing a sigh of relief.

"And it shows that voters aren't really ready to trust to this administration with more money until they see some kind of progress on the pressing issues that we're all confronting every day here. So I think the Mayor got a report card last night and he did not pass," said 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly.

Opponents blitzed the airwaves with ads critical of the referendum, and warned it would lead to an increase in property taxes and rents. This apparently resonated with voters.

Supporters of the measure called that campaign misleading.

"I think we had the better argument. Ultimately, it seems like we failed in making that argument effectively with the voters, at least with the majority them," said 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa.

The measure also likely failed because despite the push to the polls by progressive unions and other supporters of the referendum, those voters did not show up.

"It went down because when you look at the people that voted, it was 55 and over. Those are the people that are paying taxes. Those are the people that own majority of the homes, the people that are making the noise are the young people who are not paying taxes," said 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale.

The mayor also said the 29,000 people in Chicago who voted for Donald Trump may have voted against the referendum.