Cook County Treasurer's Office - 12/10/2020
Treasurer Maria Pappas today released a study which shows that the areas in Cook County where delinquent properties are a severe problem are losing population, experiencing larger property tax increases, and confronting high levels of violent crime, all of which drives down the number of bids at the Scavenger Sale auction.
The study looked at the properties in Chicago wards and suburbs that were offered at the seven Scavenger Sales held from 2007 to 2019. The 60-page study found:
- In Chicago, 11,955 (50%) of the 23,969 violent crimes in 2019 took place in the top 13 wards with the most properties offered at the Scavenger Sale. Twelve of those thirteen wards also lost population.
- The top 16 suburbs with the most properties offered at the Scavenger Sale also lost population. In those suburbs, taxes rose 183% on properties offered at the Scavenger Sale, compared with an 83% increase on all properties in those suburbs.
- Out of the 145,030 times that a property was offered at the Scavenger Sale, the taxes were sold to private buyers only 8,449 times (5.8%).
"By the time of the Scavenger Sale, my office has already collected more than 99.77 percent of property taxes,” Pappas said. “The goal of the Scavenger Sale is not to collect delinquent taxes, but to find new owners and get the properties back on the tax rolls."
"The General Assembly created the Scavenger Sale in 1939,” she added. “Now, it’s time for the Legislature to revisit the Scavenger Sale process."
Held every two years, the Scavenger Sale offers to investors and developers properties that have three or more years of delinquent taxes.
The study also found:
- Just 51,320 properties have been offered at the seven Scavenger Sales since 2007 as some properties were offered multiple times.
- Of the 51,320 properties, 25,601 (50%) are vacant lots.
- Majority Black wards accounted for 21,533 (84%) of the 25,730 Chicago properties offered at a Scavenger Sale.
- Twenty-nine suburbs with a Black population of at least 40 percent accounted for 20,366 (79%) of the 25,590 suburban properties offered at a Scavenger Sale.
- Cook County Land Bank Authority has submitted no-cash bids on 22,786 properties at three sales since 2015. When a government agency places a no-cash bid it acts as a tax buyer, except it is not required to pay anything toward the delinquent taxes and is not required to pay taxes that come due after the Scavenger Sale, unlike private buyers.
- Of those properties, the Land Bank has returned 8,886 properties from the 2015 and 2017 Scavenger Sales.
- The Land Bank’s practice of bidding, returning, and then re-bidding on properties prevents any other interested party from bidding on the property at both future annual or Scavenger Sales. Of the 9,190 properties it sought in 2019, 3,653 (39.7%) were properties it had previously returned.