Addressing Vacant Properties - Blog Posts

This is an image of a boarded up home, with a sign that reads "No Copper".
April 1, 2016

The City of Chicago requires the owners of vacant properties to register them with the city, and to secure and maintain them.  The city amended its vacant building registration ordinance in November 2011 to require mortgagees to register vacant properties in an effort to address the growing problems created by vacant buildings stuck in the lengthy foreclosure process.  

May 14, 2014
Six years after the financial collapse of 2008, the fight to rebuild our communities has not ended.
April 11, 2014

Woodstock and other advocates have long raised the issue of vacant properties in the Chicago region and the seemingly endless ways they negatively affect our communities.

March 19, 2014

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland released a report earlier this month finding that adoption of a fast-track foreclosure process for abandoned properties in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania would save the states at least $24 million annually.

December 5, 2013
Vacant homes are posing obstacles to recovery for communities throughout the Chicago region and beyond.
November 8, 2013
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) recently announced an important new resource for municipalities looking to reduce the negative impacts of vacant residential buildings on their communities.
October 15, 2013

How can organizations from different sectors overcome barriers and collaborate to promote a housing market recovery and revitalize communities?

Tags: rhopi
September 24, 2013

For our 40th anniversary, we have secured some incredible keynote speakers you’re sure to enjoy. From a range of backgrounds and expertise, our speakers will make you think differently about the work you do every day.

August 28, 2013

Governor Quinn signed SB 56, the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act (PTFA), into law last week. Illinois’ PTFA extends basic protections to renters living in buildings that go into foreclosure. 

August 26, 2013

CHICAGO—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not be required to maintain vacant homes up to the standards in the City of Chicago’s vacant buildings ordinance, ruled U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin on Friday. 

August 16, 2013

Is the Chicago region housing market turning a corner? New data we released this week offer some optimism—foreclosure filings, which signify the beginning of the foreclosure process, dropped by more than a third across the Chicago six county region from the first half of 2012 to the first half of 2013.

June 25, 2013

Municipalities across the Chicago region are struggling to come up with effective ways of making vacant homes productive again. Some communities are hitting a wall: how can you design a response when you don’t fully understand the problem?

June 24, 2013
Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee approved its funding bill for next year, complete with draconian cuts to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs.
August 8, 2011

The Chicago City Council unanimously passed an ordinance recently that would hold mortgage servicers accountable for maintaining the thousands of vacant homes stuck in the foreclosure process without resolution. We estimate that these abandoned vacant homes can cost Chicago up to $36 million annually.

June 24, 2011

Can we trust even the most seemingly reputable public figures? How will we address the needs of our aging population? Can destroying 70,000 homes actually make a city a better place to live? And, for good measure, what is real? Our staff has a lot to think about this week.

May 12, 2011

Bank of America recently announced that it will donate 150 vacant, foreclosed properties to Chicago-area nonprofits for rehab or demolition. Housing Wire reports:

March 29, 2011

When the South Suburban Housing Collaborative and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative were formed in 2009, they were built on a bold idea: that municipalities could look beyond political boundaries and work together to tackle the pressing housing needs of their areas, from foreclosure response to affordable housing to strategic and sustainable development. It was a tall order, and one that had scarcely been tried elsewhere.  Almost two years later, the experiment is starting to show positive results. The West Cook County Housing Collaborative broke ground on their first project this month in Maywood.

March 25, 2011

It’s clear that vacant homes put a damper on their surrounding community. Not only are they eyesores, they put other homes at risk of losing value and may attract crime and other destabilizing elements. To minimize these risks, many municipalities have ordinances that allow them to hold the homes’ owners responsible for securing and maintaining the property. What can already-strapped local governments do if it’s unclear who the owner is, or the owner hasn’t notified them that the property is vacant?

February 17, 2011

The foreclosure crisis continues to evolve and pose new challenges for communities working towards recovery. Chicago area municipalities, community and policy groups, and financial institutions have been working together for years to develop tools and strategies to handle the problems associated with foreclosures on single-family homes, many of which have been highlighted by Regional HOPI. A new threat is commanding these groups’ attention:  foreclosures on condominiums.

January 20, 2011

Our latest report, “Left Behind: Troubled Foreclosed Properties and Servicer Accountability in Chicago,” has created a wave of buzz from the Chicago region and beyond, generating dozens of stories, thousands of comments, and scores of tweets and Facebook posts. In case you missed it, the report found thousands of troubled foreclosed homes in Chicago that are likely poorly maintained, lack clear ownership, and threaten to destabilize neighborhoods. These homes include what we call “red flag” properties, where a servicer has decided not to complete the foreclosure process, and likely-vacant lender-owned properties that are not registered with the City of Chicago potentially in violation of its vacant properties ordinance.

January 10, 2011

When you drive through a distressed neighborhood and see blocks upon blocks of boarded-up houses, you might think that some lender is desperately trying to get those properties off its hands. Some of those homes, however, might not even be on the lender’s radar: they’re sitting in a sort of legal limbo where the lender refuses to complete the foreclosure  and the homeowner is long gone. Woodstock Institute is releasing a report later this week that examines what happens when a loan servicer decides that it’s not worth it to pursue foreclosure and the property sits vacant, a phenomenon known as a “lender walkaway.”

July 20, 2010

A housing counseling agency that’s so swamped with demand for foreclosure prevention counseling that its executive director personally handles clients. Stalled real estate markets where buyers are waiting for prices to drop even further, and buyers who do want to buy now are struggling to obtain financing. Scam artists who take off with troubled homeowners’ last dollars while promising to save their homes. These are some of the challenges that face those who are trying to combat the effects of foreclosure in the Chicago region’s neighborhoods.

July 16, 2010

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) should be updated give financial institutions credit for activities that support, enable, or facilitate projects carried out under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), says a recent public comment letter submitted by Woodstock Institute.

July 8, 2010

The impact of the foreclosure crisis continues to be front and center for the Chicago region’s communities. The 2010 Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative Annual Plenary will be an opportunity to hear from experts on economic and foreclosure trends, as well as a chance to share information about successes, challenges and emerging initiatives from peers and practitioners throughout the region. Topics to be covered include:

April 29, 2010

An increasing number of Chicago area homes were lost to foreclosure in the first three months of 2010, according to new foreclosure data released by Woodstock Institute.  In the first quarter of 2010, there were 9,302 completed foreclosure auctions in the region, the largest number of completed auctions recorded in a quarter since the beginning of the mortgage crisis in 2006.  In the Chicago six-county area the number of completed foreclosure auctions in the first quarter of 2010 increased by 56 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2009. The region also saw a nearly 80 percent increase in completed foreclosure auctions from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010.

March 25, 2010

The foreclosure crisis shows no signs of stopping—in the Chicago region, new filings rose by over 20 percent in 2009. Every foreclosure leaves behind a property that stays vacant for a period of time. Such vacant properties can drain municipal resources, lower property values, and raise crime rates. Since real estate demand remains weak despite record low interest rates and government incentives, it is likely that these vacant homes will remain a burden on neighborhoods—and on lenders’ books—for a significant period of time. Woodstock research has found that lender-owned properties in Chicago take, on average, close to 16 months to be purchased by new owners and are disproportionately concentrated in communities of color.