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Anti-Gentrification Protesters Plan To Take Over The 606 Tuesday Evening

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 16, 2016 8:59PM

(By Braden Nesin/Chicagoist)

Activists dedicated to fighting gentrification in Chicago's lower income communities are taking their calls for more affordable housing to The 606 Tuesday evening.

Since the elevated trail and public park network that stretches through Wicker Park, Bucktown, Logan Square and Humboldt Park was built last year, The 606 has become a focal point for many concerned that rising property taxes will push many of the Northwest Side's longtime residents out of their homes. To raise awareness about the city's lack of affordable housing and call for property tax reforms, activists say over 600 of them will hit the trail Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., when many joggers and cyclists are out getting a workout in or commuting home.

They're also calling for local aldermen and other community leaders to support two new proposed city ordinances that address property tax rebates and home teardown fees. Property taxes have been an especially hot issue in Chicago since Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to raise the city's property taxes by nearly $600 million to make up for the city's budget shortfall. Many residents of communities around The 606, also known as the Bloomingdale Trail, have said they're already seeing their property taxes jump as the county re-assesses their property values, and some say the advent of The 606 is to blame.

The protest is organized by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association as part of its 54th Annual Congress, and organizers say six aldermen (Roberto Maldonado, Deb Mell, Joe Moreno, Ariel Reboyras, Carlos Rosa and Milly Santiago) have pledged to attend. Ralliers will meet at Stowe Elementary School's auditorium at 3444 W. Wabansia Ave. at 5 p.m. and then head north to the trail.

The group's proposed Property Tax Rebate Ordinance would call for the city to give tax relief to certain low-income and working-class community members who own homes in neighborhoods like Humboldt Park that are feeling the squeeze of gentrification, and give tax relief to two-to-four-flat owners who offer "stable, affordable" rents. The 606 Pilot District Teardown Fee Ordinance would require the city to charge higher fees to developers and property owners demolishing existing buildings to make way for new construction, according to a statement released by organizers. Single family homes in the district, for example, would cost a builder $25,000 to demolish, while buildings with five or more units would cost $10,000 per unit to tear down. That money would go toward a "local impact fund" which would funnel the money toward building repair grants, neighborhood rental subsidies and affordable housing programs.