Tag Archives: TIF

TIFs increase inequality, reinforce blight

Increased attention on “policies that increase economic inequality” has meant greater public concern over the city’s TIF program, which residents see “helping the prosperous downtown at the expense of their neighborhoods,” according to a new report from Grassroots Collaborative.

A program intended to help low-income “blighted” areas has seen 55 percent of its spending from 2004 to 2008 going to the Loop and Near South, writes Eric Tellez.  That’s despite the fact that average incomes in the Loop ($62,000 to $77,000 a year) are much higher than in neighborhoods like Brighton Park ($21,000 to $27,000).

A Grassroots Collaborative analysis showed that while TIF subsidies created thousands of downtown jobs over recent years, they created zero jobs in Brighton Park.  Indeed, from 2002 to 2009, Brighton Park’s share of downtown jobs decreased by nearly 15 percent.

(Earlier this year the Chicago Reporter found that much of downtown TIF spending was actually creating jobs for suburban residents.)

Thus “a program meant to address blight in fact reinforces it,” Tellez reports.

A posting of the article at Progress Illinois includes data tables and interviews with two residents of Brighton Park (it’s also been published in the Back of the Yards newspaper, The Gate; the article breaks out data on Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, and Englewood).

David Uriostegui, a young Brighton Park resident who works three minimum-wage jobs to support his family, talks about getting home at midnight and getting up at 5 a.m. – and still worrying every day about how he’s going to cover his family’s expenses.  “I hate having to have a calculator in my head every day, trying to see if I’m going to have enough.”

Rosalba Guzman talks about the need to taxpayer subsidies to come back to communities.  She describes a downward spiral, with businesses closing because their customers are losing jobs.  Taxpayer money “should come back to the community, not to the corporates, because they’re making their own money,” she says.

TIF hearing in Bronzeville

Bronzeville residents turned out in impressive numbers for last Thursday’s public hearing of the Mayor’s Task Force on TIF Reform, and they had lots of ideas — from Housing Bronzeville‘s proposal to develop affordable housing on city-owned vacant lots to Urban Juncture‘s suggestions for using TIF to create local jobs. Full report at Newstips.

Austin stiffed by TIF

With Mayor Emanuel’s TIF panel looking into the program’s effectiveness, AustinTalks examines its impact in a community with the seventh-highest unemployment rate in the nation – and finds it falling far short.

Only four TIF projects have been authorized for Austin; only one – relocation of a Coca Cola warehouse – has met the terms of its TIF agreement; and that project has employed just 28 people who live in or near Austin, according to a report by Ellyn Fortino.

More than half of the 200 TIF projects authorized since 2000 are located downtown (as Fortino and ChicagoTalks staff previously reported in the New York Times).  “Few if any projects can be found in Chicago’s most blighted communities on the West and South Sides,” Fortino writes in today’s report.  “And many of those projects haven’t been completed at all – if started.”

Of $22 million in TIF subsidies allocated for Austin, “only $1.4 million has been paid out – most of it for the Coca Cola distribution center,” Fortino reports.  That’s out of $1.2 billion citywide.

That project is “a prime example of how low-income neighborhoods in TIF districts don’t get what they deserve,” with property taxes diverted from public services to benefit big corporations, one activist tells AustinTalks. It’s “legalized corruption,” says Dwayne Truss of the South Austin Coalition.

As for those other TIF projects in Austin, “no one in the Department of Housing and Economic Development, which oversees the TIF program, could shed light on why the three other projects are incomplete,” Fortino writes in a sidebar.

David Orr recently offered suggestions for Emanuel’s TIF panel, focusing on recapturing funding for schools and other public bodies.  Newstips recently reviewed a range of proposals for TIF reform.