To RPBG Members, colleagues and friends;

In Response to Alderwoman Hadden


On February 23, Judge Kathleen Burke ruled that the proposed Bring Chicago Home ballot referendum, as written, was unconstitutional and must be removed from the March ballot.


In response, Alderwoman Hadden offered some unfortunate comments on X (formerly Twitter). Some of her comments include:


“Chicago voters should be furious… From the onset, the Real Estate Lobby has opposed creating a dedicated revenue stream to fund permanent supportive housing… to end homelessness.”


She describes property owners as “a small, ultra-wealthy, special interest group” intent on “disenfranchising voters.”  She tells her supporters that they should feel “anger and fear.”


First, we oppose this legislation because it is a bad idea. It will tax and thereby discourage the development of new and additional housing; it will tax and discourage the development of commercial projects (which keep our city vibrant, healthy and employs thousands of workers, including many union workers in the construction trade); and it will tax and devalue downtown real estate at a time when it is already struggling with the worst vacancy ever and lowest valuation in a generation. By devaluing downtown buildings, Bring Chicago Home will push that tax burden onto the rest of us – folks who already feel excessively tax burdened.


Second, to say that the industry opposes any form of increased housing, let alone housing for those struggling with homelessness, is ridiculous. Providing housing is literally what we do. In fact, two out of three affordable units is naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH)—provided by people like our members. NOAH is by far the most economical approach to providing housing that is safe, properly maintained and affordable.


Third: a fundamental reality: increasing the costs of housing – say, with increased taxes – will result in increased rents. That’s not a threat – any business facing increased expenses must either cut other expenses, or increase sources of revenue. As it pertains to housing, cutting expenses compromises the safety and comfort of the units. Increasing revenue with a rent increase is often the unfortunate alternative.


Finally, she is wrong about us. Probably 75% of the residents of our community live in our rental buildings. Throughout our 30-year history, our group has consistently contributed thousands of dollars to community causes. (Watch our 30 year anniversary video (from 2022) – start at the 12:00 mark to learn about how we, like many neighborhood building owner groups, give back). Our individual members doubtless contributed many times that much to various local causes.


What our community and our City needs is a civil discourse that acknowledges the facts and looks to unite instead of to divide us. Our City is in need of 120,000 units of housing. The only way to address this issue is for all stakeholders to work together – and that includes responsible Chicagoland residents who know what it takes to restore and develop NOAH.

Additional important note: Despite the Circuit Court decision last Friday, we remain uncertain what will happen on appeal. It remains imperative that we urge every eligible Chicagoan vote in opposition to the referendum at the end of the ballot. Get the word out - and if you live in Chicago... be sure to vote "NO" on the transfer tax referendum.

The added transfer tax is the wrong approach to addressing the homelessness issue in and around Chicago. Let's be sure our industry helps find solutions that will work!


Two Rogers Park Builders Group members, Connie Abels of RE/MAX Premier- NorthCoast Group and Steve Shah of ARS Development, engage with students at Sullivan High School’s 4th Annual Business Expo on February 6, 2024. Also pictured: long time RPBG friend Andrea Graham, proud organizer of the Expo.