Progress Illinois reports that the mayor's bill, introduced on March 9:
"seeks to tackle the growing problem of vacant homes that are blighting neighborhoods across Chicago, and in particular in minority communities.
Called the Vacant Building TIF Purchase and Rehabilitation Ordinance, the bill (PDF) proposes allowing residents with a household income no greater than 100 percent of the regional median income to apply for a tax increment financing (TIF) grant that would pay for up to 25 percent of the cost of purchasing and rehabilitating an empty residential property. Single-family empty homes or units in condo and cooperative buildings with four units or fewer are eligible. The empty homes must be located in a TIF district and must be in need of at least $25,000 in fix-up costs, the proposal states. Homebuyers would be required to live in the property they are purchasing and fixing up and must be first-time purchasers. The full city council would have to approve each and every grant.
"We needed to incentivize a way to get these vacant buildngs back into productive use," said Department of Housing and Economic Development spokeswoman Molly Sullivan. "We have a huge amount of vacant buildings and most of them are from foreclosures."
According to the Woodstock Institute, banks filed 23,364 foreclosure cases (PDF) against Chicago mortgage holders in 2010, up 3 percent versus 2009. And while 10,569 properties completed the foreclosure process last year, there are an increasing number of vacant, deteriorating homes in the city that have gone into foreclosure but have not emerged from it with any clear outcome".