Community activists want TIF funds to help rebuild neighborhoods
By Mary Houlihan Staff Reporteremail@example.com May 15, 2011 6:26PM
Community leaders are asking the new mayor to not balance the budget on the backs of working families outside the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Updated: October 16, 2011 12:17AM
In a downtown rally Sunday afternoon, Chicago community leaders voiced their hope that Rahm Emanuel who will be sworn in as mayor Monday would work with them to help bring more TIF funds to underserved neighborhoods and schools.
Gathered in front of the Chicago Board of Trade, 141 W. Jackson, they stressed the need for tax-increment financing money in neighborhoods and questioned the reasoning behind TIF funds for successful multi-million dollar corporations. The Mercantile Exchange received $15 million in TIF subsides for renovations to the Chicago Board of Trade building, including its restrooms, despite making $457 million in profits in the first three months of 2011 along, organizers said.
“We are inviting Mayor Emanuel to partner with us to come up with new budget ideas and to reexamine how TIF funds are allocated,” said Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative. “Giving money to corporations is not in the spirit of what TIFS are all about.”
The community organizers want Emanuel to revamp how funds are allocated and address the budget crisis in 2012 by using $200 million in TIF funds to improve schools, parks and libraries.
Standing in a cold, persistent rain, concerned citizens offered support for the proposal. TIFs are intended to spur economic development in blighted communities and the Board of Trade is clearly not blighted, they said.
“It’s wrong that TIF money goes to corporations when schools and students need funds to improve,” said Jessie Hudson who teaches special needs children at Beidler Elementary in East Garfield Park. “We are asking Mayor Emanual to give the students what they deserve.”
“If they can give money to fix the Board of Trade restrooms, they can fix the neighborhoods too,” said Michelle Young of Action Now. “We are tired of being shortchanged.”