Grants awarded to promote foreclosure mediation program (Evanston Review)

July 15, 2010

Nonprofit organizations serving Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie, Forest Park and Maywood are among those receiving community outreach grants for their efforts to publicize a foreclosure mediation program.

Using Cook County funds, The Chicago Community Trust awarded $225,000 in outreach grants to 10 nonprofit organizations committed to spread the word face-to-face and door-to-door about the Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program.

The Lakeside Community Development Corp. was awarded a $30,000 grant targeting Evanston, Skokie and some Chicago neighborhoods. The Oak Park Regional Housing Center was awarded a $15,000 grant targeting Oak Park, Forest Park, Maywood and Bellwood.

The foreclosure mediation program provides free housing counseling and legal services to Cook County homeowners and families in foreclosure. The program is aimed at helping homeowners resolve their mortgage cases in the most timely and respectful manner possible.

The Chicago Community Trust's role is part of its commitment to address the foreclosure crisis in the Chicago region, and is being developed in close coordination with the court system and its partners, as well as with Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative partners, including Woodstock Institute, Housing Action Illinois and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. For more information, visit regionalhopi.org.

"A key element of any successful program is its outreach strategy," said Roberto Requejo, program officer at The Chicago Community Trust, in a news release. "When it comes to promoting participation, the way you communicate the benefits of a program and engage people is almost as important as the quality of the services provided. This is especially true when families must deal with a process as intimidating and complex as a foreclosure case.

"Trusted community-based nonprofits can be the best messengers to communicate to families that they are not alone: Experts are available free of charge (attorneys, counselors, mediators) and can help them stay in their homes."

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