Illinois Building Better Chicagoland Blocks

February 07, 2012

A new state program has been created that will turn metro Chicago real estate foreclosures into affordable housing in six of the Chicago area’s hardest hit cities.

The Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program will rehabilitate vacant, foreclosed properties in Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Maywood, Park Forest, Riverdale and South Holland.

The pilot program, which is getting a joint $55 million from the state of Illinois and Cook County, will help those six communities stabilize neighborhoods, protect property values, preserve the existing local tax base and increase affordable housing stock. The hope is to rehab at least 500 properties.

“The Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program is a strategic effort to help stabilize communities struggling with the foreclosure crisis,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

“By turning vacant properties into affordable housing, we’re assisting existing homeowners, strengthening hard-hit neighborhoods and boosting affordable homeownership options for working families.”

The Illinois Building Blocks Program, administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), has three components:

*Financing to rehabilitate vacant properties to prepare them for productive use and for sale: $50 million of the funds will be invested into the rehab component, and as the rehabbed homes are sold, the funds will be used to purchase and rehab other properties.

*Assistance to homeowners to purchase homes in pilot communities: $5 million will be available for this component, which will be administered as grants of $10,000 for down payment and closing costs for some of those purchasing one of the first 500 homes through this program.

*Support for existing homeowners in the communities to prevent additional foreclosures: The program will help current homeowners throughout those communities by providing tools to prevent foreclosure, including one-on-one foreclosure counseling, loan modifications, and access to financial assistance to homeowners who are unemployed or under-employed.

“With the highest inventory of foreclosed homes in the nation, the Chicago region requires a focused foreclosure response like the Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program,” said Mary Kenney, IHDA Executive Director.

“This program represents a multifaceted approach and is an important part of Governor Quinn’s overall housing strategy to address the economic, public safety and quality of life issues caused by abandoned and foreclosed properties.”

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