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Chicago Bankruptcies Driven by Sticker Violations

Heavy fines on cars without city stickers have fueled a spike in bankruptcies in Chicago, especially in black neighborhoods like Lawndale and Englewood where households received many times more tickets than households in white neighborhoods.
August 4, 2018, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Madeleine Deaton

Sticker violations are sending poor Chicagoans into debt or bankruptcy. Reporting from ProPublica found that a decision in 2012 to increase the price of tickets for cars that didn't have city stickers was intended to raise an additional $16 million for the city, it didn't. What's worse, it has driven significant growth in Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

Enforcement of city stickers, like enforcement of the city's biking laws, has not been equal. "Black neighborhoods are hit with sticker tickets at a higher rate per household, than other parts of the city, according to an analysis of tickets from 2011 to 2015. Tickets issued by police drive the disparity," Melissa Sanchez writes for ProPublica. South and West Side neighborhoods like Lawndale, Englewood, and Austin were among the neighborhoods hit hardest.

These tickets played a prominent role in bankruptcies around the city. "Unpaid sticker tickets have contributed to an explosion in Chapter 13 bankruptcies in Chicago, a trend ProPublica Illinois reported on earlier this year," Sanchez reports.

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