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      What is an SSA?


  • What is a SSA? So glad you asked. An SSA (Special Service Area), often called Business Improvement Districts ("BIDs") in other locales, are property tax districts that fund supplemental services in high-traffic urban areas.  These districts are a funding mechanism wherein property owners along major business corridors pay an additional small tax with their property bills. That tax then is distributed into the SSA's Neighborhood Improvement Program to be utilized for supplemental business corridor services.

    Lincoln Square's Neighborhood Improvement Program focuses on making the area cleaner, greener, safer, and more vibrant -- it funds street cleaning, sidewalk banners, murals and business recruitment / vacancy assistant... as well as a number of other things. Ever notice the lush planters that sprinkle our neighborhood sidewalks? The SSA Neighborhood Improvement Program funds such! How about the Cambodian Color mural on Lawrence Avenue? Yep, we helped fund that too. Shout-out to artist Brandin Hurley, and PaintWorks.

    The City of Chicago relies on a network of community organizations, dubbed "Service Providers," to manage SSAs in all parts of the city.  Mayorally-appointed SSA Commissioners (who normally are taxpayers themselves) approve all SSA services and expenditures.  Commissioners also select the Service Provider every year.  There are currently 54 active SSAs in Chicago.  Learn more about Chicago's SSA Program by visiting the Department of Planning and Development.

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