Our Homes Matter phone bank connects homeowners to thousands of unclaimed dollars

Samantha Chatman Image
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Our Homes Matter phone bank connects homeowners to unclaimed money
EMBED <>More Videos

Our Homes Matter phone bank from Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and ABC7 connects homeowners to thousands of unclaimed dollars.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than $100 million is waiting to be claimed by Cook County homeowners as ABC7 partners with the Cook County Treasurer's Office for the Our Homes Matter phone bank.

The eighth phone bank was held Thursday, with the goal of connecting our viewers to as much as that unclaimed money as possible.

The final numbers are in. This year's event connected Cook County homeowners with $2.6 million! The total for all eight phone banks to date is $31,352,508.

Shemika Clemons called into our phone bank last year on a whim, and ended up with thousands of dollars in her pocket.

"I had been paying a lot of money for my property taxes," she said.

Clemons has neuropathy, a condition that causes nerve damage, and she has to use a cane to walk. Between managing her illness and her finances, and raising her young son, she figured calling the phone bank could be worth it.

"The money I get from disability is the equivalent of what I pay in property taxes," the Dolton homeowner said. "So I basically live off the little savings I have."

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said there are a lot of taxpayers out there like Clemons who woulc use the extra cash.

"I used to go to the grocery store, lay out $50 and get three bags of groceries. Now I go to the grocery store, lay out $50 and I get one bag of groceries," Pappas said. "As simple as that sounds, that's how everyone's feeling. They feel like whatever money they're laying out, they're getting a lot less for it. So the question for us is, how can we get people more money so they can do more with it."

That's why the phone bank is so important, especially for Black and Latino homeowners who are more at risk of losing their homes because of unpaid property taxes. Pappas said many of those same residents don't even realize her office owes them money.

Clemons ended up getting a whopping $11,870 refunded to her. With that money she said she bought a hibachi grill, threw her son a birthday party, and put some of the money away in savings.

The rest, she said, is going to pay the next year of property taxes.

In our last seven phone banks, ABC7 has connected viewers to $28 million in refunds and exemptions. We expected to hit the $30 million mark Thursday, and surpassed that goal.

The phone lines were open at 312-603-5105 from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Cook County property owners only need to provide their address, and can check their refund and exemption status anytime at cookcountytreasurer.com.