Hundreds of participants take part in the 38th annual Rainbow PUSH Conference. The five-day gathering brings the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Chicago.
"Together working in partnership and in common purpose, I'm confident we can all keep the American dream alive with a new sense of urgency. I know we will," said Shaun Donovan, H.U.D. secretary.
The conference is addressing several economic issues. One getting a lot of attention is the foreclosure crisis and how to keep families in their homes.
"We've already offered roughly a quarter million modifications under our making home affordable plan which is progress but we need servicers around the country to step up their efforts," said Donovan.
In a panel discussion Rev. Jesse Jackson shared concern about a lack of loan modification.
"To deal with the issue ultimately of restructuring loans, not just repossessing homes, most people with a house can pay for it if there is a lower rate and a longer term," said Jackson.
Participants say they are seeing a second wave of foreclosure not from subprime loans but from layoffs.
"What you're going to see now is that because of the impending job losses we're going to see these jobs losses spread out in communities where people thought they were potentially safe from these foreclosures," said Nakitra Bailey, Center for Responsible Lending, Durham, NC.
"We need to kind of intervention with the Congress and the lending institutions that will look out for the customers and the stakeholders in a more aggressive way," said Rev. Otis Moss Jr., Olivet Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has gotten nearly 14,000 calls to her foreclosure hotline this year.
"We have had to put on staff HUD certified housing counselors so we do actual modification work out of the attorney general's office. In addition, we refer people to other HUD certified housing counselors," said Madigan.
The purpose of these meetings is to not only expedite procedures to help struggling homeowners, but to create systemic road blocks to prevent prospective homeowners from entering into mortgages beyond their means.