Despite the fact that urban areas through the country continue—albeit slowly in some states—to get through their foreclosure inventories and to begin repairing neighborhoods blighted by empty and abandoned properties, foreclosure prevention remains a major issue in the Chicago area. Indeed, according to a recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business, the U.S. Treasury Department has decided to send $118 million to our state “through a program set up after the financial crisis to help struggling homeowners and [to] address neighborhood blight.”
What do you need to know about foreclosure prevention in Oak Park and other Chicago areas?
“Hardest Hit” Funds to Help States Still Struggling from the Housing Crisis
According to the article, that $118 million that will be going toward foreclosure prevention and housing recovery in Illinois is part of a larger $2 billion package being divided among 18 different states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Treasury Department has described the money as “Hardest Hit” funds, which will aim to do exactly as the title suggests—provide more opportunities for rebuilding in areas of the country that were hit the hardest by the housing crisis.
Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer lobbied specifically for this funding, and she emphasized how it will create “a huge opportunity for Illinois to help neighborhoods devastated by the housing crisis.” Gainer is chairperson of Cook County’s Land Bank Authority. When she started lobbying for this money to come to the Chicago area, she highlighted the many ways in which it could help both neighborhoods in Chicago proper as well as the numerous suburbs. Here are some of the things she hopes to be able to do with the funds:
- Demolish currently vacant and dilapidated homes;
- Encourage developers to come in and build new properties; and
- Develop additional foreclosure prevention initiatives.
Role of the Cook County Land Bank
It makes senses that the chairperson of the Cook County Land Bank Authority was among the people to urge the Treasury Department to support Illinois in the current round of “Hardest Hit” funding. After all, the Cook County Land Bank, established in 2013, is tasked with “buying salvageable vacant buildings, clearing their titles, and transferring them to developers that can put them back to use.” While some foreclosures might be eligible, many of the buildings in the particularly hard-hit areas of Chicagoland “need to be razed,” according to Gainer. The “Hardest Hit” funding can help with that.
The “Hardest Hit” program grows out of money set aside for the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program. In previous rounds of funding, Illinois received a total of $446 million, which went largely toward foreclosure prevention. The $118 million in the most recent funding round will focus the most on blight reduction. Last year alone, the Illinois House Development Authority (IHDA) approved a total of $5.4 million for razing vacant homes that are beyond repair.
If you have questions about avoiding foreclosure, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney. A dedicated advocate at our firm can answer your questions today. Contact the Emerson Law Firm to learn more.
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