By Micah Maidenberg

October 21, 2010

The Woodstock Institute’s latest report (PDF) on foreclosure activity in the Chicago region paints a grim picture. Between January and September of this year, 26,870 properties finished the foreclosure process and 95 percent of them were taken back by mortgage lenders, who are likely to keep them vacant, distressing neighborhoods and city budgets that depend on real estate-derived taxes, according to Woodstock Senior Vice President Geoff Smith. The inventory “poses a significant challenge to municipalities, as vacant properties decrease tax rolls while raising maintenance costs,” he said in a press statement. “These properties also affect the stability of local real estate markets by adding to the supply of for-sale housing in the region.”

Meanwhile, new foreclosure filiings in the six-county Chicagoland area continue to rise. Over the first nine months of 2010, lenders filed 58,962 new foreclosure suits in the region, a 28 percent increase over the same time period last year. In the city, wealthier residential areas near downtown are seeing the biggest jumps in new filings, while some black and Latino neighborhoods, like Englewood on the South Side and Hermosa on the Northwest Side, saw the pace of new filings drop year-over-year.

That doesn’t mean those neighborhoods are in the clear, however. If the moratoriums announced by some banks because of the robo-signer crisis keep foreclosed homes in legal limbo and off the market, communities of color hit hard early in the foreclosure crisis could get hit hard again, according to Woodstock. Such neighborhoods “continue to experience high levels of foreclosure activity and have large concentrations of vacant properties that take longer to return to productive use than do vacant homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. The new delays may further set back these communities’ paths to recovery.”

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