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wttw: Johnson Walks Political Tightrope in 1st 100 Days as Allies Press Him to Deliver and Critics Seize on Missteps

By Heather Cherone, August 24, 2023

That process began in earnest in July, with two high-profile hearings on the cornerstones of Johnson’s progressive agenda: efforts to reopen Chicago’s mental health clinics, an initiative known as Treatment not Trauma, and hike taxes on the sales of properties worth $1 million or more to fight homelessness, known as Bring Chicago Home.

At the same time, Chicagoans who sell properties for less than $1 million would see a 20% cut in the transfer taxes under the proposal Johnson supports and plans to ask the City Council to put on the March 2024 ballot for approval.

“Protecting the interests of working people is top priority for me,” Johnson said.

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Block Club Chicago: Real Estate Transfer Taxes Would Drop For Most Under Johnson-Backed Homelessness Prevention Proposal

By , August 23, 2023

CHICAGO — A plan to raise the city’s real estate transfer tax on higher end property sales to generate funding for homelessness services has landed Mayor Brandon Johnson’s blessing — albeit with some significant changes from how it was originally proposed.

The Bring Chicago Home initiative has for years called for the city to increase the tax rate buyers pay on property sales over $1 million, with the additional funds raised dedicated to providing permanent affordable housing and wraparound services for unhoused Chicagoans.

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Chicago Reader: Brandon Johnson’s first hundred days as Chicago mayor

By Shawn Mulcahy, August 24, 2023

Johnson’s support proved key for at least a couple of those proposals, which languished for years before the City Council. The Bring Chicago Home ordinance, pushed by a coalition of community and labor groups, seeks to create a dedicated funding stream for permanent, affordable housing by creating a “mansion tax” on the sale of properties worth more than $1 million. Johnson pledged to support the ordinance during his mayoral run—it was the first item on his affordable housing plank—and doubled down in advance of a subject matter hearing in July before a City Council committee. (July’s hearing came eight months after then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her allies blocked a hearing on the proposal.) 

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WBEZ: Chicago’s homeless living on streets and in shelters sharply increased in 2021

By Tessa Weinberg, August 24, 2023

Homeless encampments in Chicago

Mayor Brandon Johnson campaigned on enacting the real estate transfer tax increase, known as Bring Chicago Home. This week his administration briefed alderpersons on a compromise marginal tax rate that would lower the rate by 20% for home sales under $1 million — the majority of sales — while increasing the rate to 2% for the portion of sales between $1-1.5 million and 3% for the portion of property valued at over $1.5 million. Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said alderpersons aim to introduce a resolution next month that, if passed, would put the question of increasing the tax before voters in March 2024.

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Chicago Tribune: Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first big fiscal test: How to translate campaign promises into dollars and cents

By Alice Yin, July 30, 2023

Yolotzin Martinez, left, speaks to Mayor Brandon Johnson, right, about community safety during a mayoral roundtable on the 2024 city of Chicago budget at Harold Washington Library in the Loop on July 25, 2023.

The mayor also shouted out two activist-backed proposals from his 100-day agenda — Treatment Not Trauma and Bring Chicago Home — that have recently gained traction but appear increasingly unlikely to be accomplished in the immediate future.

Treatment Not Trauma calls for a citywide, nonpolice response to mental health crises and for reopening the mental health clinics shut down by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. A City Council committee took the first step days ago to explore the plan, but it’s unclear how much of it will be reflected in the next budget, as Johnson’s transition team deemed it a “long-term” goal and his allies have noted it requires multiple phases of implementation.

The second proposal, Bring Chicago Home, aims to raise an estimated $160 million annually for social services and anti-homeless measures by more than tripling the real estate transfer tax on the sales of properties valued at more than $1 million. Supporters say the program is direly needed, especially as an influx of migrants has strained the city’s overall social safety net.

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Crain’s Chicago Business: Johnson allies float a more ‘progressive’ real estate transfer tax hike

By Justin Laurence, Leigh Giangreco, July 27, 2023

Chicago City Hall

The renewed legislative effort to raise the one-time tax on the sale of properties at $1 million or more to fund additional homelessness programs began Thursday with advocates for the proposal saying they’re open to a marginal tax rate that could increase support with voters and in the City Council. Mayor Brandon Johnson, along with many of his City Council allies, campaigned on passing the Bring Chicago Home proposal, which would more than triple the real estate transfer tax on sales of residential or commercial property at $1 million or more. The proposal would raise the tax from the current 0.75% to 2.65%; that would increase the transfer tax on a $1 million sale from to $26,500 from $7,500.

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Chicago Sun Times: Mayor’s allies prep for referendum on ‘mansion tax’ to aid city’s unhoused people

By Fran Spielman, July 27, 2023

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), the mayor’s floor leader and Zoning Committee chair, speaks during a Chicago City Council meeting last month.

As originally proposed, the long-stalled ordinance known as “Bring Chicago Home” would more than triple the transfer tax on Chicago homes sold for more than $1 million to raise roughly $160 million in annual revenue to combat homelessness. The tax would go from 0.75% to 2.65%.

But under questioning Thursday, retiring Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara disclosed that a “marginal” tax is under consideration that would apply the dramatically higher tax only to that portion of the sale above $1 million. If a home is sold for $1.2 million, the first $1 million would be taxed at 0.75%. The 2.65% transaction tax would apply to the remaining $200,000.

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Chicago Tribune: Backers of Chicago real estate transfer tax hike aim to take measure to voters; money would fight homelessness

By Alice Yin and Lizzie Kane, July 27, 2023

Community organizer Infiniti Gant speaks during a rally in the lobby of Chicago City Hall on July 27, 2023. Housing activists want to see the real estate transfer tax in Chicago raised on properties that sell for more than $1 million.

“I’m sorry this has taken multiple, multiple years,” Ald. Maria Hadden, 49th, said.“This is continuing to get worse. ... I hope that we can keep the urgency going to make sure that we are not ... leaving money on the table.”

The so-called Bring Chicago Home movement was one of many bitter fronts between former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and progressives who felt betrayed when she walked back a campaign promise to enact such a tax hike for homelessness services, citing issues with the current version. Her allies no-showed a subject matter hearing on the initiative in November, scuttling the coalition’s plans to pass legislation in time to get the proposal on February’s election ballot — when Lightfoot lost her bid for a second term.

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