Community leaders offer financial assistance for homeowners struggling to pay taxes

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Church and business leaders in Chicago are stepping forward to provide relief for some homeowners.

Many are struggling to pay property taxes after a change in Illinois law cut the grace period for making those payments.

Businessman Willie Wilson will lend $150,000 to homeowners. The money will be used as interest-free loans to help them pay property taxes due in 2016.

"We owe it to the community, and we will give back to the community. So if they need extra time, fine. If they don't pay it back, that's OK, too," Wilson said.

A critical date - and first financial risk for property owners who have not paid property taxes due in 2016 - is coming up April 3. That's when their delinquent tax bill goes up for auction. When a "tax buyer" purchases the delinquent tax bill, you will owe them the tax bill plus high interest.

And there is a second financial risk as well. If the property owner cannot pay the "tax buyer" quickly after the auction. They will also owe additional taxes due after the tax sale, plus interest.

"Some people come to pay but just don't have enough money," said Cook Co. Treasurer Maria Pappas. "They stand at that counter and they cry because they don't have it."

It's an issue because the 12-month grace period has been shortened to just eight months, catching people off guard.

"This is bad legislation," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

"We have to care for all of the people. I think that's our mission as pastors and as leaders," said Rev. Robert Patterson, The Spirit of Truth Missionary Baptist Church.

So now, homeowners can apply for interest-free loans. The Westside Justice Center will administer the program with the donated money.

"So if you would like to take advantage of this program or need some advice we have individuals who can give you that advice," said Tanya D. Woods, executive director, Westside Justice Center.

Phone: 773-940-2213


Phone: 312-630-1157

If you're concerned about your property taxes, contact the Cook County Treasurer's Office. You will need your address or your property index number to check the status of your tax bill. You can either go online or call the office's phone number below.


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