Our lawsuit aims to stop the Lincoln Yards TIF from creating more racial inequity
This morning, two community-based organizations represented by Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the City of Chicago’s illegal approval of a public subsidy for Lincoln Yards using up to $1.3 billion in public tax money generated through Tax Increment Financing (“TIF”).
We are proud to stand with Grassroots Collaborative and Raise Your Hand, which have worked for years to reform the City’s management of the TIF system. We are also grateful for the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has joined our legal team.
For months, we have provided support to community groups and members of a broad coalition of organizations that have brought to light issues of unfairness and inequity in Chicago’s TIF system and specifically concerns with the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District.
The Lincoln Yards development project doesn’t require public money - and especially not TIF money intended by law to help “blighted” areas.
As the complaint details, the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District is located in one of the most attractive riverfront areas of the city for developers, surrounded by three of the most affluent communities - Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Lincoln Park. Values for land with buildings in the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District have been rising at a rate higher than the rest of the city.
Our complaint alleges that the area around Lincoln Yards does not meet the definition of “blight” under state law, nor does the area qualify as one dependent upon public taxpayer funds to spur economic development, and therefore it violates the state’s law on TIF.
The complaint also alleges that the City of Chicago’s administration of TIF violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act. While the highest revenue-generating TIFS in the City are concentrated in predominantly White and wealthier areas, the worst-performing TIF’s – those generating the least amount of revenue and investment – are located in low-income communities of color.
These disparities cannot be dismissed or simply blamed upon the city’s existing patterns of wealth and racial segregation. The City’s rampant abuse of the TIF system is clear.
Instead of using public money to invest in communities most in need, the TIF in Lincoln Yards would deepen our city’s wealth inequality and increase the economic pressures on low-income communities of color.
We look forward to a future in which the City’s TIF process is fair, lawful, and nondiscriminatory.