Law would allow loans for delinquent taxes
by JASON MEREL
As the county treasurer is preparing for the first tax sale of delinquent property taxes in more than 2 years, legislation signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker would lay the groundwork to eventually help some homeowners get low-interest loans to avoid it in the future.
House Bill 2614, sponsored by state Representative Eva Dina Delgado (D-3) and state Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-20), would allow home equity programs established under the Illinois Home Equity Assurance Act to provide low- or zero-interest loans to homeowners for delinquent property tax payments.
"We need to use every tool at our disposal to help homeowners who are at risk of default, especially in light of a historically difficult year that has affected everyone’s finances," Pacione-Zayas said in a press release. "With this legislation, homeowners on the Northwest Side will get the additional assistance they need to help pay their property taxes."
The bill allows a governing commission with at least $4,000,000 in its guarantee fund to establish a "Delinquent Tax Repayment Loan Fund" to provide low-interest emergency loans to eligible applicants. A governing commission that wants to establish the fund may do so by a referendum approved by a majority of voters or by a resolution from governing commissioners with two-thirds approval.
An amendment to the bill includes the Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program. The program would have authority to create a new type of assistance loan to help prevent homeowners from becoming delinquent on property tax payments. The assistance loan will be modeled after existing loans for home improvements and foreclosure prevention, according to Pacione-Zayas.
"Homeowners now have the opportunity to secure a zero-percent loan instead of a high-interest predatory loan to help save their home," Northwest Side Housing Center organizer Ernie Lukasik said. "This gives us additional tools to combat displacement. We need to cultivate as many new tools as possible to keep residents in their homes."
"The legislators really worked hard to get this passed and I think it’s a great addition to what we do and the neighborhoods we service," NHEAP executive director Ivy Ellis said.
Ellis said there are some specifics left to work out, including board participation and identifying a participating bank, since the program subsidizes loan interest rather than originates loans.
"We are in talks and our board is very excited to see where this goes," she said. "We’re pushing forward and my hope is that we can get this off the ground in first or second quarter 2022."
The county tax sale will be held on Nov. 9. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, so pandemic-related tax delinquencies will not be for sale until after the law takes effect and the low-interest loan repayment programs are established.