Gov. Quinn signs mortgage relief bill

April 5, 2009 (CHICAGO) The bill gives Illinois residents who are delinquent paying their mortgage a grace period of up to 90 days to work with lenders.

However, it is little relief for those struggling to make ends meet. Some people have hope the plan will help, but some affected homeowners say it may already be too late.

"They are still playing games. Every time we call the people we need to contact, they want this big huge sum of money which we don't have," said one homeowner who wanted to remained anonymous.

That homeowner is the unseen victim of foreclosure, jobless and months behind on her mortgage. She is set to lose the home she's had for 15 years.

To help her and others like her, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Sunday to help stave off the housing crisis terrorizing homeowners on Chicago's Southwest Side.

"It's sobering to see various boarded up homes and bungalows, the heart and soul of Chicago and the state of Illinois, are people who buy a home," Quinn said.

The plan guarantees homeowners a 90-day grace period from foreclosure, if they agree to seek counseling certified by the government.

"We have a moral obligation and opportunity here to ensure that working families, men and women, retain their portion of the American dream," said State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, who represents the16th District.

"Three months in the lives of many of us is a lifetime. It's the difference between a job lost, a job found," the Southwest Organizing Project's Jeff Bartow said.

According to the Southwest Organizing Project, in 2007, more than 4,000 homes on the Southwest Side went into foreclosure. In 2008, more than 5,000 homes were lost, in large part because of predator lending.

"They don't care about moderate and low-income people who want to own a home," said Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Harder hit is the 6500 block of South Holman, where there are currently at least a dozen foreclosed homes and others in trouble, like the home of the unidentified homeowner speaking with ABC7.

"It's a crying shame. Everybody knows it's the economy and what happened. It's not our fault," she said from behind her door.

A foreclosure grace period comes not only to the Southwest Side but to other communities battling the epidemic of foreclosures. The intended message is to acknowledge the foreclosures are a problem and create a way deal with it now, to try to turn things around, save people who already have homes, and get other people back into buying homes.

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