Illinois General Assembly passes bill to help homeowners and communities recover from foreclosure crisis

The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill today that will help local governments clean up abandoned homes and prevent new foreclosures. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16) and John Mulroe (D-10) and Reps. Karen Yarbrough (formerly D-7) and Joseph Lyons (D-19), would generate badly-needed revenue for foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization programs and accelerate the foreclosure process for abandoned homes so they can get into the hands of a responsible party sooner.  

“These new tools will allow housing counseling agencies to help more homeowners work to avoid foreclosure and empower local governments to attack blight and abandonment that hold communities back from recovery,” said Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute. “These reforms will bring Illinois one step closer to more stable communities and a more vibrant housing market. We urge Gov. Quinn to sign this into law as soon as possible.”

The reforms in SB 16 HA 8 include:

An additional fee on foreclosure filings to raise revenue to support struggling homeowners and local governments burdened with the costs of vacant, abandoned homes.

New resources for housing counseling agencies that help homeowners work with their lenders to avoid foreclosures.

o The $13 million in grants for counselors could help approximately 18,000 homeowners through the foreclosure process.

New resources for local governments to help them maintain and secure abandoned homes. These costs are a huge drain on governments—Woodstock Institute research shows that abandoned foreclosed homes cost the City of Chicago alone $36 million per year.

o SB 16 will provide $28 million in grants to local governments to address the problem of abandoned foreclosed homes, doubling the amount of money some local governments have to clean up their neighborhoods.

Create a fast track foreclosure process for homes that are confirmed to be abandoned. When the foreclosure process drags on for a home where the homeowner has already left, it’s more likely that the home will become blighted, bring down surrounding property values, and attract crime. An expedited foreclosure process for vacant homes can get them out of out of ownership limbo and put them into the hands of an entities that will maintain the homes.

o The fast track process will shorten the foreclosure timeline for abandoned properties by an estimated 18 months.

“Preventing foreclosures and stabilizing vacant homes helps families, governments, and banks alike,” said Adam Gross, Director of Affordable Housing at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. “The sooner SB 16 becomes law, the sooner communities can boost efforts to keep people in their homes and clean up blight.”

SB 16 passed the Illinois House by 87-17-4 and the Illinois Senate by 47-0-3 on December 5 and now heads to the Governor’s desk. The bill was championed by a coalition including Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, Woodstock Institute, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Southwest Organizing Project, Community Bankers Association of Illinois, Illinois Credit Union League, Illinois League of Financial Institutions, and many local governments.

For more information, please contact Katie Buitrago at 312-368-0310 or kbuitrago at woodstockinst dot org.