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Work ongoing to rehab Chicago's foreclosed properties

Thursday, March 11, 2010

There is a sign that the foreclosure crisis in the nation is slowing. It comes as Chicago officials work to stabilize neighborhoods that have many foreclosed properties.

A new report shows the number of households facing foreclosure in February grew by 6 percent over a year ago. However, that's the smallest annual increase in four years. In Chicago, federal funding is being used to rehab foreclosed and abandoned properties. But, some are upset, saying that work hasn't reached their neighborhoods.

The federal government has freed up $153 million for Chicago's foreclosed homes. Throughout the city developers are transforming the boarded up eyesores. For some, that transformation can't happen fast enough.

Once the wiring is done drywall goes up. And, in weeks, a once foreclosed property in the Marquette Park neighborhood will be ready to sell to a new homeowner. Neighbor John Currie is glad to be seeing renovations. He says the home was vacant for a year.

"I just didn't like having a house vacant next door to me like that. People going in and out the alley at night. No telling what they're doing," said Currie.

The rehab is funded by the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The city has bought 200 properties so far with the NSP money.

The city's first deputy commissioner of community development updated aldermen and residents at a hearing Thursday at City Hall. Many at the hearing had concerns about the program not doing more in some of the areas hardest hit by foreclosure.

Aldermen had the first chance to voice their opinions.

"I am so angry in polite company I can't tell you how angry I am," said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, 6th Ward.

"When the money comes in, if we don't get our fair share, it leaves us where we are. So we want our fair share," said Ald. Ed Smith, 28th Ward.

"We have over 1,000 mortgage foreclosures and we have two on different blocks, so there's no real impact," said Valerie Leonard, Lawndale Alliance.

The first deputy commissioner urged patience, as NSP is expected to acquire up to 2,500 foreclosed homes.

This first group of rehabs are just the beginning.

"When we're done with the neighborhood stabilization effort, what we hope to see is, where there were vacant building and boarded buildings, to have people living in them and be an integral part of the community," said 1st Deputy Cmsr. Ellen Sahli, Chicago Community Development.

Those who would like to see an abandoned home transformed in their neighborhood should call 3-1-1.

Currently, the federal money can only be used to buy bank-owned property, so the city can begin to research the property with your call.

For more information about buying one of the rehabbed homes or looking for jobs visit www.chicagonsp.org. there you can find the list of projects and developers.

Hiring in the communities was another concern raised at the hearings.

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