Blagojevich seeks foreclosure protections

CHICAGO For families getting behind in mortgage payments time is not on their side. Local advocates and officials are looking for ways to help homeowners in trouble and help families stay in their homes.

Ada Brown enjoys her new kitchen, but it came at a great price. She nearly lost the home in foreclosure. She would refinance to make repairs, but an adjustable loan was more than this retiree could handle.

"In the end after a while you've got -- I just really couldn't do it," said Brown.

Thursday, there was a bit of a celebration at her house. Brown is among thousands of Illinoisans able to refinance with a pool of money set aside by Illinois lenders.

Brown's Englewood home was the backdrop for a press conference with Governor Rod Blagojevich and other local officials who are pushing for a foreclosure moratorium up to three months if the homeowner gets counseling.

"We send out a notice in 45 days, and then if they agree to get counseling, they get an additional 45 days to work out a plan with the bank or the lender," said Illinois Senator Jacqueline Collins (D), 16th District.

"You've got to go to the House and ask that leader to call this bill. This is the right thing to do for people," said Governor Blagojevich. ¶

Meanwhile, downtown, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago hosted a conference about foreclosures in the Latino community.

Housing advocates say minority communities have been disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis.

"When you compare the number of foreclosures, African-American communities are three times more likely to have foreclosures than properties in the region, and a similar disproportionate ratio for the Latino neighborhood," said Geoff Smith, Woodstock Institute.

Marciela Garcia is the executive director of Latino Policy Forum, formerly Latinos United. The organization convened Thursday conference because, Garcia says, Latinos in the Chicago area have unique issues regarding foreclosure. Those include: language barriers and reluctance to get help for fear of citizenship investigations.

Organizers hope to find ways to address these families' needs.

"When you see the families' needs, where are they going to go?" said Garcia.

Participants in the Latino Policy Forum want to create action steps to help families get help in Spanish -- if need be -- before they lose their homes.

The executive director says, while there is distrust, she has not heard of any immigration action against a homeowner who tried to get help refinancing a mortgage.

As for the bill the governor was discussing Thursday, it's expected to be introduced in the upcoming veto session.

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