Fundamentals of Organizing This two-part training is held quarterly and has an emphasis on building relationships grounded in mutual self-interest that balances an expansive sense of how a multiracial democracy should operate and a long-term vision for the world with the realities of building power in the world as it is today.

Create a funding stream for the homeless through a small tax on the sale of high-priced homes? That’s the goal of Bring Chicago Home, a ballot initiative which fell short of passage in March but may see new life next spring.

Tax million-dollar homes to house the homeless? That’s the simple premise of Bring Chicago Home, a ballot measure which came to vote on March 19. The measure is the culmination of a six-year effort by ONE Northside and a coalition of more than 100 community and social service organizations, and they’re not done yet.

The Bring Chicago campaign kicked off in 2017, during the tenure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who favored the development of Chicago’s wealthier residential areas and financial district over working-class neighborhoods. It became a central effort for ONE Northside, which was founded in 2013 to help unite and revitalize the Chicago neighborhoods of Rogers Park, Edgewater, Uptown, Ravenswood, North Center, Lake View, and Lincoln Park. 

In the lead-up to the March 19 vote, ONE Northside knocked on over 34,000 doors and held thousands more conversations over the phone. These grassroots efforts sparked a backlash from realtors, real estate and property owner organizations, who spent millions on advertising and mailings in the weeks before the vote to mislead voters about the purpose of the proposed tax increase.

In the end, 54 percent of voters voted against the measure, although Northsiders, apparently, voted for it. ONE Northside and other members of the Bring Chicago Home Coalition have vowed to revive the measure in some form to address the city’s homeless and housing affordability problems, which only continue to grow.

“The feeling around the non-passage has only made us more determined to make sure it happens,” ONE Northside’s Kerry Fleming told the magazine In These Times.

The next time Bring Chicago Home might appear on the ballot would be next spring. The interim is an opportunity to strengthen, and perhaps revise, the wording of the measure, so it’s easier to understand and there’s less opportunity for opponents to misrepresent it.

Some suggest Bring Home Chicago may benefit by proposing a single, more targeted tax – like Los Angeles’ “mansion tax,” which passed in 2022. This creates a 4 percent transfer tax on homes worth more than $4 million, rather than the 2 percent tax on $1 million homes currently proposed in Chicago.

“Sometimes we lose before we win big. I call it ‘losing forward,'” ONE Northside’s organizing director, Hannah Gelder told supporters the morning after the vote. “I am confident a victory will emerge from what we built through this campaign. Maybe the one we were fighting for, maybe something we can’t see right now.” 

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