Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicago Program To Turn Vacant Buildings Into Affordable Rentals

Another year is here, but Chicagoland residents are still playing the waiting game, hoping the housing market will regain a modicum of stability.  Home prices in Chicago and other major cities recently hit record lows, reports an article in Forbes, pulled down by high foreclosure numbers.  The foreclosure backlog is projected to take years to clear.  Oak Park residents who are concerned about losing their homes should contact a qualified legal professional to learn more about Illinois foreclosure protection laws.

Some have predicted that struggling cities like Chicago should put their high numbers of foreclosed properties to good use by renting or selling them.  Doing so could stimulate development and rid neighborhoods of the numerous vacant homes that are dragging down housing prices.  As the Oak Park foreclosure defense attorneys at the Emerson Firm know, Chicago is doing just that.  The city is converting vacant condo buildings into affordable rentals by selling entire buildings to investors and developers who will rehab them.

The city’s vacant properties include entire buildings of empty condos in areas such as West Woodlawn, Austin, and Rogers Park, locations where there have been high numbers of condominium foreclosures.  Many condo buildings are already in the process of being converted into apartments.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the city is expected to fill its empty homes with residents via a plan that has been in the wings for two years.  Amendments effective in 2010 to the Illinois’ Condominium Property Act will allow cities to petition a Circuit Court to allow a receiver to sell a distressed building as a whole.  Owners of the units, usually lenders, will receive a fractional share of the proceeds from a sale after liens are erased.  The judge will take bids and then decide who may buy a particular property based on a number of factors, including price and the bidder’s financial resources, track record, and building plans.

There are many reasons for the present state of vacant Oak Park properties.  The River Forest foreclosure lawyers at the Emerson Firm routinely handle foreclosure defense cases and know that many homes are in their current state because of fraudulent mortgage activity.  According to the Chicago Tribune, other properties had legitimate developers who were financially stretched too thin, or who fell victim to the housing crisis and subsequently were unable to sell all the units in a building.

Regardless of the reasons for the current state of the vacant properties in Chicago, it is clear that a solution must be found.  Under the city’s plan, some use may be gotten out of the buildings instead of allowing them to go to waste.  Additionally, rehabbing the buildings and renting them hopefully will create much needed affordable housing.  DePaul University’s Institute for Housing Studies issued a report finding that almost 483,000 renters needed affordable housing in 2009, but only 303,000 rental units were considered affordable.

The overall goal of the city’s program is to get as many of Chicago’s vacant properties occupied as possible, which hopefully will help reinvigorate the housing market.

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