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'Black and Latino Houses Matter' phone bank helping homeowners

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The phone bank will help Cook County homeowners find refunds, apply for property tax exemptions and avoid the Tax Sale.

Video Transcript

SAMANTHA CHATMAN: Or good afternoon, rather, to you, Judy.

So this initiative is actually called Black and Latino Houses Matter. It was started by the Cook County Treasurer's Office. And we've been talking about this for, really, the last seven days, just to give you the importance of how amazing this is and how big this is.

So the County Treasurer is essentially asking people, if you're not sure about the status of your property taxes, if you're not sure if you're owed a senior exemption or a senior freeze, we want to hear from you. So that's what this phone bank is all about. I understand that we have the Treasurer, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas with us.

Cook County Treasurer! Tell us, first of all--

MARIA PAPPAS: Samantha, you're not going to believe this.

SAMANTHA CHATMAN: --How has it been going? How has it been going? What kind of calls are you all getting today?

MARIA PAPPAS: We are completely jammed. We have 50 people on hold and we have 50 people answering, actively, phones. But since 3:00 o'clock, we just hit $629,000. So hang in. The hold is roughly 3 minutes. If not, call back again at 312-603-5105.

We are reaching out to anyone who's owned a home, or a commercial piece of property, or a vacant lot in Cook County on refunds totaling $79 million. We're looking, going back 20 years, to see if you and your mortgage company paid, two financing companies paid. We have $79 million that we're looking for to see if you're the person entitled to it. And in fact, we've already hit $629,000 that we're giving back.

We're also looking at homeowner's exemption going back four years. You had to have lived in the house for a year. Senior, you have to be over 65, and senior freeze, you need to be over 65 and the total household making under $65,000

Again, we, within the hour have reached $629,000. That's amazing, Samantha.

SAMANTHA CHATMAN: Wow, that's amazing. So more than $600,000 given back to Cook County residents in the last hour. Absolutely fantastic.

The goal is to protect people from losing their home, and we want you to call the phone bank. It's running from 3:00 to 7:00 PM, so you've got plenty of time. The number is on your screen, 312-603-5105. I'll be checking in throughout the day.

Maria, thank you so much, and we look forward to hearing more. And hopefully, more people getting back some money.

MARIA PAPPAS: See you in an hour.

- All right, ladies. Thank you so much. Helping out so many people. That phone bank, as Samantha and the treasurer mentioned, open until 7:00. There's the number on your screen, 312-603-5105. We're going to be dipping in and checking in with Samantha and the treasurer's office, as well.