Map sale

Two essential equity reports

Two reports released this month paint fairly detailed portraits of the state of racial and economic equity in the western suburbs and more generally in the Chicago area.

“Maps of Inequality: From Redlining to Urban Decay and the Black Exodus” was released July 19 by the office of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. The study shows how government-sanctioned redlining, a practice that dates back 80 years, continues to harm poor and minority communities.

“Redlining is the practice of denying loans to buyers of homes in minority areas on the grounds that they are a financial risk,” the study explains. “The term referred to the red shading on maps of urban areas where the federal government, in conjunction with lenders, discouraged mortgage lending.”

The places in red, of course, were heavily populated by blacks and other ethnic groups. The study recreates the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation’s 1940 “safety map” of Chicago that shows where these demarcated areas were located.

The big finding of the Pappas study is that almost 60% of the properties sold in the 2022 Scavenger sale – mostly “vacant land, abandoned homes and closed businesses” that accumulated delinquent property taxes – were highlighted. .

Meanwhile, 40% of properties were edged in yellow, “meaning they were at risk of being edged in red”. Only 3% of the properties in the 2022 Scavenger sale are located in areas that in 1940 would have been deemed “better or still desirable” by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation.

Pappas’ study also shows that the same Cook County suburbs where property taxes are highest, property values ​​are lowest, and Scavenger Sale properties are most concentrated, are also where homeowners are likely overpaying for property taxes by not taking advantage of various exemptions. , which could prevent properties from going into delinquency.

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For example, from 2020 to 2022, landowners in Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood received 2,100, 981 and 1,704 refunds respectively. These refunds totaled $4.5 million, $2.6 million and $3.9 million, respectively.

Pappas recommends returning deteriorated properties to productive use by creating a “public database of abandoned properties; replacing the Scavenger sale with a program that allows developers and local governments to receive properties free of financial burdens and to restore them more quickly; and advancing legislation to lower the interest rate charged by the county on overdue property tax payments from 18% per year to 9% per year, easing the burden on property owners trying to repay their overdue taxes for save their home.

Another report, “Community Voices,” released July 26 by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, captures the results of several community conversations held with residents of the townships of Oak Park, River Forest, Berwyn, Chicago, Cicero and Provision.

Last year, the Community Foundation hired The Nova Collective, the black-owned, women-owned DEI consulting agency founded in Oak Park, to facilitate conversations, “with the goal of building relationships of confidence and to identify priorities where the Foundation could be most impactful.

“Two years in the making, this report reveals the most pressing needs in our region, what the data tells us, and how the power of our community will guide our future toward a racially just society.” said Foundation President and CEO Tony Martinez Jr.

“We believe the Community Voices report will be of great value, not just to the Foundation and the nonprofit sector, but to local government, schools and the community as a whole,” he added. .

The report’s five strategies for achieving racial equity, taken from an article in the Stanford Innovation Review, are valuable insights.

  1. Field work on data and context while targeting solutions
  2. Focus on systems change, as well as programs and services
  3. Transfer power in collaboration
  4. Listen and act with the community
  5. Strengthen equity leadership and accountability

The report contains tons of useful data and a host of illuminating maps that highlight the inequalities in Chicago’s West Suburbs and West Side. But the document and the inequities it aims to correct really come to life when the participants in the conversation start speaking for themselves.

“When a glass breaks, you don’t repair it, you replace it,” explained one participant. “We need to stop trying to fix broken systems and reinvent new ones designed with fairness and justice in mind.”

You can read Pappas’ full study at You can read the Community Voices report at: