Sharp drop in home sales in Chicago

Congress is working on a rescue plan, but is it enough to help homeowners in trouble?

The House has already passed the plan, and the Senate is expected to approve it Saturday. However, Chicago area homeowners facing foreclosure need help now.

The offer of relief sounds good for those struggling to save their home because there appears to be agreement on the issue. The bill doesn't hurt, but there is some skepticism about whether it will help those who need it most.

In one block in the Wicker Park area, five properties have been through foreclosure since 2006, four in 2007, according to the Woodstock Institute.

Within three blocks of a near West Side neighborhood, 11 properties went through foreclosure, seven of them in 2007.

Michael Van Zalingen, director of home ownership services at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, says it is not a surprise that new statistics show an in increase in foreclosures.

"It is sad to be validated in our predictions from last year, but it is coming and it will only get worse," Zalingen said.

Nationwide, nearly 740,000 homes received at least one foreclosure notice. Realty Trac, Inc. ranks Illinois as 10th in the nation in foreclosures. In Chicagoland, foreclosures are up 42 percent, according findings from the Woodstock Institute. That is what is found when comparing the first half of 2008 to the same time last year.

Congressional leaders have come up with a plan they hope will stabilize the economy and help homeowners in trouble. It offers $4 billion to buy and refurbish foreclosed property.

"There is no guarantee it will fix the economy, but the first casualty was the subprime mortgage mess and housing sector. We need to make it strong again. It accounts for a lot of job,s and homes are the most important investments in most families' lives," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who represents the 20th District.

At Neighborhood Housing Services, where demand for help has increased 50 percent in recent months, there is hope that more will be done at the federal level to help solve the housing crisis.

"For at least 60 percent of the folks in foreclosure right now, there is no other option besides trying to sell the home at a loss or losing it to foreclosure. There's not much in this bill that will help them. The bill seems to be focused at mopping up the mess after people have lost their homes," Zalingen said.

The bill also offers a tax credit to first-time home buyers and is expected to go to the president next week. That is, of course, if everything goes through with the Senate.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.