Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Take Root Chicago to Help Illinois Homeowners

Late last month, WBEZ Chicago announced that Take Root Chicago, a program created to help currently struggling homeowners, launched in Cook County.  Designed to bring together lenders, housing nonprofits, and advocacy groups “under one umbrella,” Take Root has an online portal where potential homeowners and those who face foreclosure will find access to a “plethora of programs” that can help to educate them about the housing market.
The housing market continues to show signs of recovery, but many Illinois homeowners continue to struggle with monthly mortgage payments and the looming threat of foreclosure.  If you have questions about foreclosure in our state, don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer.
History of Take Root
With the Take Root program, consumers don’t have direct access to funding.  Instead, the program is designed to “marshal resources of numerous agencies and promote them to consumers under the Take Root umbrella.”
Take Root actually began in Milwaukee in 2010.  Since then, Take Root programs have been launched in Denver, Co., Jacksonville, Fl., and in areas of South Florida.  When Take Root began in Milwaukee, 32 organizations in the area quickly became participants.  And according to the Chicago Tribune, the program assisted thousands of families in the region.  In fact, it helped 2,400 families to avoid foreclosure.  Nearly 450 families purchased a home with the help of Take Root, and 150 of those families actually purchased a foreclosed property.
Details for Take Root Chicago Program
Take Root Chicago will provide services that “range from how to buy cheap vacant homes to financial counseling to finding lending options for first-time buyers.”  The program has both local and federal funding, with sponsorship by the Chicago Urban League and Freddie Mac.  Why the dual partnering?
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, 82,000 homeowners in Illinois with mortgages supported by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hadn’t made their mortgage payments.  The Chicago Tribune reported that those homeowners make up about 6 percent of all Illinois loans backed by Fannie and Freddie.  Additionally, Fannie and Freddie owned 16,903 Illinois properties that had been repossessed through foreclosure as of March 31.
Take Root is “part foreclosure prevention and part homeownership education and promotion,” according to the Chicago Tribune.  Housing advocates in the Chicago area emphasize how the city “still needs the kind of cohesive marketing effort” that defines the Take Root program.
What will it provide specifically?  First, through the efforts of Take Root Chicago, “delinquent borrowers who haven’t responded to calls from their mortgage servicer will receive letters from Freddie Mac and the Urban League.”  The letters will encourage these borrowers to get proactive when it comes to their homes—they’ll need to get information to save their homes from foreclosure.  Hopefully, with a local organization like Take Root Chicago, homeowners in Cook County will feel more comfortable reaching out.  With this program, homeowners can avoid the anxieties that come with dealing with big banks or with other bureaucratic structures.  There are “folks who say they don’t know what to do,” said Christina Diaz-Malone, the vice president of community outreach at Freddie Mac.  Take Root can help.
Take Root also seeks to assist potential homebuyers.  With Take Root’s homebuyer education classes, first-time homebuyers can learn about programs to help creditworthy individuals and families who are in the low- to moderate-income brackets to purchase properties.  Earlier in July, in fact, Illinois promised $6.6 million to help potential homeowners to purchase vacant single-family homes.
Programs like Take Root Chicago can provide important educational tools for delinquent homeowners and potential homebuyers.  But if you’re at risk of foreclosure, it’s always important to have an advocate on your side.  Contact a licensed foreclosure defense attorney today.
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