November 8, 2011
The Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs recently was awarded a $52,500 grant to notify homeowners in foreclosure in the North Suburbs of free help that is available.
The center is hiring two people to begin this month contacting homeowners who already have received a summons to appear in court and let them know of the free counseling and legal services offered through the Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, said Jasmine Brewer, Interfaith’s director of housing counseling.
“What’s exciting about this program is that we will have the opportunity to alert, one-on-one, every homeowner who gets a foreclosure summons,” Interfaith Executive Director Gail Schechter said in an email, “This is the second year of the program and the first in the northern suburbs. Past experience by other (organizations) shows that outreach workers reach a third of all addresses they visit, and half of those are able to engage with the foreclosure mediation program. This means that, free of charge, homeowners can get legal help and housing counseling to help keep their home, or negotiate a dignified move.”
The homeowner must be living in the home in foreclosure to be eligible. The residence may be a single-family home, condominium or apartment building with four or fewer units. The grant comes from the Chicago Community Trust and covers outreach efforts from Nov. 1 to July 31.
Interfaith workers will be reaching out to homeowners in Glenview, Wilmette, Winnetka, Northbrook, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, Skokie and the Chicago neighborhoods of Rogers Park and West Ridge.
Interfaith reports that in the 10 suburbs combined, 2,444 homeowners received foreclosure notices in 2010, a 652 percent increase over the number in 2005, according to the Woodstock Institute’s Foreclosure Report.
In Winnetka, foreclosures were filed on 34 homes last year, only two more than in 2009, but a dramatic increase from earlier years. Lenders foreclosed on only six Winnetka homes in 2007 and 19 in 2008.
People interested in the county’s mortgage foreclosure mediation program, should call the toll free help line at (877) 895-2444. Appointments are necessary. Homeowners first meet with a housing counselor. Then they can discuss the counselor’s recommendations with an attorney, free of charge, who can help the property owner prepare for a court date. Appointments also may be requested via the website, http://cookcountyforeclosurehelp.org.
Homeowners who are concerned about paying their mortgages, but have not been foreclosed on yet, can access information and resources from the same website, or contact Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, at 614 Lincoln Ave. in Winnetka. Call (847) 501-5760 or look at the website, www.interfaithhousingcenter.org.
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