Ill. 7th in foreclosure rates

March 12, 2009 3:17:20 PM PDT
The Chicago area is in the midst of a mortgage foreclosure crisis. In the past few weeks foreclosures have jumped more than 70 percent in Cook County, according to the clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Dorothy Brown.

Brown is blaming the banks for the crisis, claiming they are rushing homeowners into foreclosure. The clerk is sending letters to the president, congressional leaders and the governor urging action.

The clerk says the recent increase in foreclosure filings is more than economic reasons. She says banks are using bailout money to increase foreclosures instead of keeping families in their homes.

Elitha Brown's childcare in Harvey will close its doors next month. Her home, where she has the daycare, was foreclosed and is scheduled to be auctioned in April. She says she got behind on her mortgage after an injury. She says she recovered, and even when she was prepared to become current on the mortgage, she says the bank didn't want to talk.

"I started generating money to pay them back. They didn't want to talk to me at all. It was like they just cut me off. It's like I fell off the face of the earth," said Elitha Brown.

Brown attended a press conference Thursday where the clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Dorothy Brown, questioned whether banks are purposely trying to elude President Obama's anti-foreclosure plan.

"The recent rush on foreclosures shows us that it's imperative that something is done immediately to hold banks accountable," said Dorothy Brown.

The clerk reports a surge in foreclosure filings after President Obama's inauguration, up 50 percent, and again after President Obama announced a foreclosure help plan, up 72 percent.

"Those bailout monies should be used to keep people in their homes, and not to hire lawyers to rush foreclosures," said Dorothy Brown.

A home in Oak Park has been for sale since the McNutts moved out of state for a job opportunity three years ago. David McNutt says they tried to communicate with their bank for a year and a half that they were financially strained having a home in Oak Park and renting out of state.

"Some amount of disbelief that we couldn't get a responsible person at the people we paid money to to respond to us in any kind of responsible or caring way," said McNutt.

McNutt says they were given the runaround when trying to renegotiate their mortgage terms on the home. McNutt says the only communication they received was a foreclosure notice in November.

"Our mortgage is not a bad mortgage. It's a perfectly fine mortgage. It's not subprime. And we were just looking for a way to try to hang on to our house instead of losing it," McNutt said.

The McNutts have an offer on the home. But it's a short sale, where the selling price is less than the home's value, so if the bank approves the sale the McNutts will still owe on the home.

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