Taxpayer Money Set Aside to Curb White Flight Helped Some Flee City

Tim Novac and Chris Fusco, Chicago Sun-Times, November 9, 2011

Like many homeowners these days, Victor and Yvonne Delia stood to lose a lot–about $90,000–when they sold their townhouse near Midway Airport five months ago.

Instead, the two retired Chicago police officers managed to walk away with a 23 percent profit–thanks to property taxes collected from 61,145 of their fellow Southwest Side homeowners.

The Delias benefited from a law Illinois legislators passed in 1988 to curb white flight in Chicago’s bungalow belt. The law offered homeowners a guarantee: They wouldn’t lose money if they sold their home even if property values declined.

But there was a catch: No one was supposed to profit if their property values went down because of a national housing slump–as has happened in Chicago the past several years.

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And a law that was meant to keep people in their homes in the city has often ended up paying for them to move out of Chicago.

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The Delias got the biggest payout anyone has ever received from the 21-year-old Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program, one of the three agencies created to stem block-busting and white flight on the Southwest Side and the Northwest Side.

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The law that established Chicago’s three home equity assurance districts caused controversy even before it was passed in 1988 at the urging of white legislators who feared their constituents would flee the city following the election of Mayor Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. They argued the legislation would combat “panic peddling” if the racial composition of certain neighborhoods begin to change.

Every black legislator voted against the measure. Then-state Sen. Howard Brookins (D-Chicago), whose son is now a Chicago alderman, was among them.

“We see it as a racist, dividing bill to divide the city of Chicago,” Brookins said at the time. “If it was a good thing, then we would have it for the entire state of Illinois.”

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In the 1990s through the mid-2000s, when the housing market in Chicago was booming and home values were rising, few people enrolled in the home equity programs. Even now, fewer than 10 percent of eligible homeowners have enrolled in the programs, which collect taxes from every residential property in each district. Last year, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 paid as little as $1.89 in equity taxes on the Northwest Side to as much as $27.63 on the Southwest Side.

When homeowners enroll, their property is appraised and given a “guaranteed appraised value.” To be eligible for compensation, they have to wait at least five years before they put their homes up for sale.

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  • Lauren

    Unless the ‘Guaranteed Appraised Value’ was indexed to the Inflation Rate, I don’t see that this couple made off like Goniffs. And if this legislation succeeded in having a substantial number of Whites staying-put for over two decades, then it was a SUCCESS.

    You have to consider how much inflation occurred during the time Victor and Yvonne owned their home, to determine whether or not they really made a “profit”. I’m thinking that, in real terms, they probably lost a bit.

  • Anonymous

    Has it gotten this sad for us? It’s like the last roundup. One white couple manages to flee ‘diversity’ and it makes headline news.

  • Question Diversity

    If you are a left winger, or any winger for that matter, and you truly believe in racial equality, and you believe that there’s no such thing as race, and that it’s nothing more than a social construct, then you have no business passing bills to preclude “white” flight, much less worrying about it to begin with. Why does it matter who does and does not live where? If you believe in equality, it shouldn’t matter where white people or any other people do or don’t live. If you believe race is a social construct, then this kind of racial bean counting should never enter your mind.

  • Anonymous

    But bills that benefit blacks directly are not racist?

  • MAJ

    This is basically a bribe to enforce integration.

    It’s so bad that whites have to be paid just to stay around black neighbors.

    Ultimately, who cares about the money? Most of us would gladly PAY to get out of such a situation.

    This is another example of the mess this country has become.

  • Anonymous

    The checks and balances of capitalism mo longer work because government can’t resist trying to modify them. In the end the taxpayer always pays. The social engineering programs such as this one to stem white-flight is shallow and amateurish. They don’t include basic considerations like personal security and quality-of-life. Of and the cost to administer the program and the likely corruption for friends and family is typical.

  • Anonymous

    The money guaranteed to white people as their neighborhoods turn black are in essence a reflection the value lost. That value lost is because of the deterioration of the neighborhood. In the end, if you don’t feel safe and your day-to-day existence is marred by loud music and rude behavior you will leave. There is no amount of money for you to stay. This is a waste of tax payers money, and does nothing to address the problem.

  • Strider

    What I’d like to know is who was stupid enough to pay more than $200K for a home anywhere in America’s most corrupt city.

  • Anonymous

    Instead, the two retired Chicago police officers managed to walk away with a 23 percent profit—thanks to property taxes collected from 61,145 of their fellow Southwest Side homeowners.

    There go those pesky White people again, sponging off the taxpayers. Yep, that’s Chicago’s big problem these days…retired White homeowners.

  • Anonymous

    At one time the city of Chicago banned for sale signs because they thought the ban would stop White flight. It didn’t.

  • Anonymous

    It does not say when they bought their home. If they just retired and bought it 20 to 30 years ago, the home would have increased in value much more than 23 percent.

    My Mother’s Chicago condo which she bought in the early 1990’s for $120,000 is now worth between $360,000 and $400,000 like every other condo in the building and neighborhood. Of course her condo is in the Lake Shore Drive neighborhood.

  • WR the elder

    If diversity is such a benefit why did Chicago have to bribe people to live with it?

  • white is right, black is whack

    Since when does the government have the authority to tell you where you want to live? Oh, that’s right! Those freedoms don’t apply to whites anymore. Never mind. Carry on, comrades!