Community Groups File for Injunction to Freeze $1.3 Billion in TIF for Lincoln Yards

The filed and stamped copy of the motion for the injunction can be downloaded here: https://www.clccrul.org/s/20190619Brief-in-Support-of-Preliminary-InjunctionDRAFT6192019-FINAL.pdf

Two community organizations filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction in circuit court yesterday to force the City of Chicago to freeze its plan to create the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District with up to $1.3 billion in taxpayer money for a luxury development in Lincoln Yards.

Grassroots Collaborative and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education filed a lawsuit in April through a team of attorneys from Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The injunction argues that the TIF district where the Lincoln Yards development is located does not meet the legal standard for use of TIF subsidies in a “blighted” community, violating the state’s TIF law.

You can watch the press conference announcing the filing of the motion for the injunction here. You can find our live tweets here. We are honored to work with the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil RightsNational Lawyers' Committee, and Grassroots Collaborative on this important next step. We will post updates and we will be using the following hashtags: #TIFequity, #TIFreform, #ReimagineChicago.

Want to learn even more about this lawsuit? Please see our original post here. And visit the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights web page about the lawsuit with many links here

Press Coverage

Chicago TribuneLincoln Yards opponents ask judge to stop city from spending any money on the megaproject

Sun-Times: Group wants to block work on Lincoln Yards project

One IllinoisGrassroots Groups ask injunction against Chicago River development

WGN TV: Injunction filed against Lincoln Yards development

WVON: Interview with Megan Reid (National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights) and Reverend Hatch (New Mount Pilgrim Church and Leaders Network)

Brenda Delgado, CPS Parent & RYH Board President, Press Conference, June 19, 2019

Brenda_presser_injunction_6.20.19.jpg

I am the parent of three children enrolled in CPS. I have served on several Local School Councils. I am the Board President of Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education.

Raise Your Hand is a nonprofit organization of public school parents who have been advocating for quality public education for all children in Chicago and Illinois since 2010. Over the years, the city’s administration of the TIF system has hurt our schools and our children by siphoning off funds which should go to our public entities such as our schools. Our roofs leak for years and hurting kids wait months for a social worker, because of lack of funds.

The vast majority of CPS students are African American and Latinx, and if the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District proceeds, these students and the communities in which they live will be shut out from critical funding they would otherwise receive over the 23-year lifespan of the TIF. This unnecessary and illegal diversion of up to $1.3 billion means hundreds of millions of dollars lost from CPS, while our cash-strapped schools lack nurses, social workers, intact roofs, full special education services and staffing, librarians, and basic supplies like paper. It is egregious to spend public money on a luxury development in a wealthy area while the children of Chicago are not prioritized.

In the past, the City's unelected school board has purposefully created segregated school attendance boundaries to lock out low-income minority students from the best-performing schools. This project perpetuates an old and ugly cycle; those who stand to benefit from Lincoln Yards are predominantly White and affluent communities, to the detriment of the majority of Black and Brown CPS students.  

That is why Raise Your Hand worked with other organizations to obtain over 1,000 signatures on a petition to delay any action on the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District and the Roosevelt/Clark TIF District until a Racial Equity Impact Assessment could be completed. An REIA would analyze the TIF Districts’ possible impacts on affordable housing, public parks, public transit, public schools, and economic development from a race equity lens. We want the city to stop contributing to widening racial inequity, and that starts with TIF reform.

Thank you.

 

Press Release

Community Groups File for Injunction to Freeze $1.3 Billion in TIF for Lincoln Yards


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2019

Contact

Timna Axel, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, 312-888-4194 | taxel@clccrul.org
Nathan Ryan, Grassroots Collaborative, 920-445-3920 | nathan@grassrootscollaborative.org
Jennie Biggs, Raise Your Hand | 312-485-1192 jennie@ilraiseyourhand.org
Reynolds Graves, National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law | 202-662-8375, rgraves@lawyerscommittee.org
 

CHICAGO - Two community organizations filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction in circuit court yesterday to force the City of Chicago to freeze its plan to create the Cortland and Chicago River TIF District with up to $1.3 billion in taxpayer money for a luxury development in Lincoln Yards.

Grassroots Collaborative and Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education filed a lawsuit in April through a team of attorneys from Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The injunction argues that the TIF district where the Lincoln Yards development is located does not meet the legal standard for use of TIF subsidies in a “blighted” community, violating the state’s TIF law.

“The creation of a TIF for an area that doesn’t need it means hundreds of millions of dollars lost from CPS, while our cash-strapped schools lack nurses, social workers, intact roofs, full special education services and staffing, librarians, and basic supplies like paper,” said Brenda Delgado of Raise Your Hand. “It is egregious to spend public money on a luxury development in a wealthy area while the children of Chicago are not prioritized.”

Grassroots Collaborative’s Executive Director Amisha Patel said: “Lincoln Yards was a potential site for the Amazon HQ2 headquarters. This slice of riverfront property sandwiched between three affluent areas has some of the most desirable sites for development in the state. It is not blighted - and development would certainly happen there without the use of TIF funds."

Attorney Aneel Chablani with Chicago Lawyers’ Committee said: “The TIF created for Lincoln Yards epitomizes how the City has illegally twisted the TIF system to expand wealth in an affluent area increasing the tax burden and diverting resources from low-income communities who are the intended beneficiaries of TIF. The City must not get away with this at a time when racial and economic inequities are so extreme that residents of Streeterville can expect to live 30 years longer than residents of Englewood."

Over the 30 years that the City has used TIF as a tool for economic development, communities have raised concerns that property tax revenue has been taken away from other taxing bodies, including public schools, to subsidize luxury development projects. The concentration of TIF money in majority-White areas such as Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Bucktown has disproportionately benefited affluent neighborhoods to the detriment of communities of color.

“The TIF system is used in nearly every state, but Chicago has the most TIF Districts of any major city in America,” said Megan Reif of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “As civil rights lawyers we have to address systemic issues that affect people’s day-to-day lives, and the reallocation of resources we’re seeing as a result of this TIF District is emblematic of the country’s rising disparities.”

If granted, the preliminary injunction would force the City to freeze the use of TIF money to subsidize the Lincoln Yards development while the lawsuit moves forward. The lawsuit also asks the City to reform the entire TIF process to be fair, lawful, and nondiscriminatory.

The filed and stamped copy of the motion for the injunction can be downloaded here: https://www.clccrul.org/s/20190619Brief-in-Support-of-Preliminary-InjunctionDRAFT6192019-FINAL.pdf

Copyright © 2019 Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc., All rights reserved. 

 

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