Chicago residents could receive foreclosure help

March 7, 2008 3:47:39 PM PST
Lawmakers have introduced a new initiative to help Chicago homeowners and renters who could lose their homes to foreclosure. The initiative is a package of legislative proposals the lawmakers hope will help stabilize neighborhoods and allow residents to ride out the nation's economic crisis.

It seems the mortgage crisis will get worse before it gets better. Many of the subprime mortgages will reset this summer, but before that, people are in danger of being homeless.

Last summer, the Moore family moved into a Little Village apartment building while saving up to buy a home. But, they may soon be on the move again, using precious financial reserves because their landlord is in foreclosure.

"We have paid our rent faithfully for about 6 or 7 months. Then, we find out all this stuff was in the mail that this building was in foreclosure when we moved in," said renter Elbert Moore.

" We don't have this type of money to move, " Rozell Smith-Moore said. "We have to find another apartment."

The Moore family is among the estimated thousands of Illinois renters drawn into the mortgage crisis.

"They are caught in the limbo of foreclosure and the sale of the home. So, they may have not heat," said Kathleen Clark of Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing, Inc.

Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley stood in support of some state legislators Friday trying to pass legislation that may help homeowners and tenants in trouble.

"We have an obligation as the government to deal with this as quickly as possible," the mayor said.

The initiative would: enhance protections for renters, create a foreclosure prevention fund, ease rules for the city to gain control of abandoned property, and expedite intervention on distressed condos.

Alderman Pat Dowell of Chicago's 3rd Ward said one block in her ward exemplified the housing crisis. In that one block, there is an over priced new home, one in foreclosure and two abandoned homes.

Dowell supports legislation that helps residents stay in their home and stabilizes the neighborhood.

"This leads to the destabilization of a community. We need to focus our state, city and federal legislators on this issue," she said.

Legislators who attended Friday's press conference said, given support, the bills could take effect as early as May.

As for the Moore family, it is working with an attorney to get additional time to look for a new place to, but the family is still making preparations to move.