toro gentrification 021624SPRINGFIELD — To assist long-term homeowners from being priced out of their neighborhoods, State Senator Natalie Toro has introduced legislation that would expand eligibility for the long-time occupant homestead exemption.

“Historic communities should not be disrupted because of greed,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “This measure will give established homeowners more opportunity to keep their homes, preserving communities that have been cornerstones for generations.”

Under Toro’s measure, the threshold for qualifying for the long-time occupant exemption would be lowered, allowing more homeowners to benefit. Currently, homeowners must experience a property assessment increase exceeding certain percentages to be eligible for the exemption. Senate Bill 2845 would lower these percentages from 10% to 5% for households earning between $75,000 and $100,000, and from 7% to 3% for households earning $75,000 or less. The property must also be occupied for 10 continuous years or 5 continuous years if the person receives assistance to acquire the property as part of a government or nonprofit housing program.

While the exemption aims to assist many Chicagoans, the qualifications have not changed since its enactment in 2007. This resulted in fewer than 2% of all residential properties in Cook County qualifying for the exemption in 2023. By providing greater tax relief to eligible homeowners, Toro’s measure will help more Chicago homeowners remain in their communities.

“Being a homeowner is a significant achievement that has historically led to accumulation of wealth and investment. However, with rising property taxes, homeownership is sadly turning in the opposite direction for a family’s financial status,” said Toro. “Providing expanded tax breaks to long-term homeowners will help ensure investing in property will benefit families — and our communities — now and for years to come.” 

Senate Bill 2845 awaits discussion in the spring legislative session.