CHICAGO (WLS) -- Homeowners in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood are voiced their concerns about a shocking spike in property tax bills in a meeting Friday with the Cook County Assessor.
Assessor Fritz Kaegi said property taxes in the Pilsen community have actually risen more quickly than any other area in Cook County.
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The surge impacting second-installment bills has some long-time residents worried the property tax hike will force them from their homes.
Ana Ramos is still trying to figure out how to pay the real estate taxes on a three-flat building in Pilsen after they more than doubled in the second half of the year.
"I could not believe it. I thought it was a mistake," Ramos said. "Honestly, I thought it was a mistake."
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But it was no mistake. After talking with her neighbors, Ramos said she heard lots of similar stories of huge increases in property taxes. She said she's also hearing about lots of long-time residents who may be forced to move because they are unable to pay those taxes.
Pilsen Neighbors Council President Mary Gonzales, whose taxes jumped 50%, said: "My husband and I can figure out how to make that payment, but there's a lot of families who can't."
Gonzales pushed for a meeting with Kaegi hoping to come up with a solution.
"Since we came into office we've been using every fiber of our muscle to make this inherently-regressive system less painful for communities like Pilsen, which have been at the epicenter of the gentrification," Kaegi said in a meeting with community leaders Friday morning.
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He's promising to work on long-term solutions, but in the meantime is encouraging residents to take advantage of some immediate relief options: the basic homeowner's exemption, the long-term homeowner's exemption and the senior citizen rate freeze.
Ramos is unsure if any of those options will help her.
"I'm trying my best," she said. "I don't know what I need to do, but I'm going to try my best to keep my home."
Many residents in Pilsen who spoke with ABC7 said they have not yet paid their second installment bills, which were due on December 31.
In the meantime, Kaegi said he will meet with a larger group of residents on February 1 at Benito Juarez High School.