Letter to Chicago Association of Realtors

Oct 26, 2023

On THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26 at 10:00am, members of the Bring Chicago Home
coalition are holding a direct action downtown to protest corporate real estate interests’ ongoing
campaign to undermine the proposed initiative.

Protestors will demand that realtors, landlords, and corporate lobbyists stop their campaign of
disinformation around the Bring Chicago Home campaign by presenting this “cease and desist”

Chicago Association of Realtors

430 N. Michigan Ave

Suite 800

Chicago, IL 60611

Attn: Ms. Michelle Mills Clement, CEO

Dear Ms. Clement:

We are writing to highlight our concerns about the information that the Chicago Association of Realtors (“The Association”) has been disseminating about Bring Chicago Home (“BCH”), an initiative that will create a dedicated stream of funding to directly address the crisis of homelessness in Chicago.  

The Association’s stated mission and values support “the economic development of our diverse communities” so that they are “vibrant and thriving”. Bring Chicago Home supports these very same goals, by using a one-time tax on only 5% of Chicago real estate transactions to create permanent housing for the unhoused across our city, and to provide supportive services to ensure stability within our neighborhoods. With over 68,000 people in Chicago experiencing homelessness, and with Chicago’s homelessness budget at only 2% of New York City’s and 7% of Los Angeles’, the time for Chicago to act is now.

The Association has been spreading misinformation about this initiative, and we would like to set the record straight. 

Below is a list of misinformation you have shared with the public, compared to the facts:

Misinformation: Your taxes are going up.* 

Fact: Most people will not see any increase in taxes as a result of this proposal because they are not buying a property. For those who are buying a property, 95% will see a decrease in taxes. Also, this is not an increase in property taxes. It is a one-time tax when a property is bought. 

Misinformation: Your real estate transfer tax will be tripled.* 

Fact: 95% of transactions will see a decrease in taxes. 

Misinformation: The real estate transfer tax increase will make housing more expensive. Costs to purchase rental housing units are passed down to the tenants, contributing to rising rental costs.** 

Fact: Most properties are not for sale and will see no increase in taxes. Even for those that are for sale, two independent studies by Kellogg Business School and the Harris School of Public Policy found that even in the worst-case scenario where 100% of the increased real estate transfer tax would be passed on to tenants, the impact on rents would be between $1-$5 per apartment per month. 

Misinformation: Many Chicago families pool resources to live in multifamily buildings and may rent out a unit – this tax takes away tens of thousands of dollars from families trying to build wealth.** 

Fact: 94% of 2-4 flats will receive a tax cut under the BCH proposal. Most families who own and live in multi-family properties will see an increase, not a decrease in the equity in their property due to the tax cut. 

Misinformation: There are nearly 32,000 properties worth $1M or more in the City of Chicago subject to the transfer tax.***  

Fact: While it may be true that the 32,000 properties could someday be subject to the tax, most of them are not for sale and will therefore not be taxed. On average in a year, only 1,329 residential and 640 commercial properties over $1 million sell. This represents only 6% of all properties over $1 million. 

Misinformation: We must first review current policies and programs to identify what’s working and what’s not. Then we can work together to create a thoughtful plan. There is currently no plan.*** 

Fact: There is not only a specific plan for use of the funds, but it follows a model with proven results. The primary use of the funds, permanent housing combined with supportive services, has been shown to permanently end homelessness with a one-year retention rate of up to 98%. It also saves money in emergency services: studies have shown up to $31,545 in savings per recipient of the housing over two years. 

A community-led advisory board will decide on the priorities for spending each year including homelessness prevention programs and specific models for creating and preserving housing. 

Misinformation: During the mayoral campaign, then-candidate Brandon Johnson vowed not to raise property taxes. Now Mayor Brandon Johnson is trying to do just that — under the guise of his Bring Chicago Home plan.****  

Fact: The Bring Chicago Home proposal does not raise property taxes. The transfer tax is a one-time tax that is only paid when a property is sold and the increase will only be paid by those who can most afford it, people who are purchasing property that costs over $1 million. 

Misinformation: The BCH proposal threatens to topple the city’s real estate market.**** 

Fact: Chicago’s real estate industry does not live and die by the Real Estate Transfer Tax. Money will continue to be made and development will continue to happen with an increase in this infrequent fee. San Francisco raised its RETT tax in 2011 and again in 2017 and during that time period, construction projects remained stable and even grew in some years.

Misinformation: BCH fails to address Chicago’s desperate homelessness problems.**** 

Fact: Bring Chicago Home is the first significant, ongoing, dedicated revenue that the city has ever had to address homelessness and will more than triple current city resources to address homelessness. It also focuses the spending on a proven solution: permanent housing with wraparound supportive services. 

Misinformation: REALTORS® have a long history of supporting legislation to provide solutions for those with no home that also would ease our state’s dire housing supply shortage.***** 

Fact: The realtors have a long history of opposing proposals that remove barriers for those with no homes to access housing or to provide protect tenant protections. Some recent examples include: 

  • The Illinois Realtors Association fighting against proposals to give judges more discretion to seal eviction records, which cause discrimination against tenants even when the tenant did not lose the eviction case.  
  • The Illinois Realtors lobbying against legislation to make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against people who receive public or private support for their housing for two decades before dropping their opposition in the face of multiple community organizing campaigns. 
  • The Chicago Association of Realtors opposing increased notice for tenants when a lease is not being renewed. 

On The Chicago Association of Realtors’ website, you recognize the inequities of the past and claim to be moving to rectify the impact of such. Bring Chicago Home supporters are working to do just that! We know that homelessness is a product of decades and in fact centuries of systemic racism. Through BCH, we can provide funding to address past inequities, and create opportunities for all our neighbors, our small businesses, and our communities to thrive. 

Join us.


The Bring Chicago Home Coalition:

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Communities United

Chicago Teachers Union

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Not Me We

ONE Northside

SEIU Healthcare 

United Working Families

*From a mailer from Realtors Opposed to Real Estate Transfer Tax published in Chicago Tribune, September 30, 2023 

**From Chicago Association of Realtors email to members dated September 15, 2023 

***From Realtor Fact Sheet from July 2023 

****Crains October 4, 2023 Letter to the editor signed by Illinois Association of Realtors and Chicago Association of Realtors 

*****Chicago and Illinois Realtors testimony July 2023 BCH hearing 

Join us to build a diverse, united North Side of Chicago acting powerfully for our shared values of racial, social, and economic justice in communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.