WBEZ | foreclosure crisis http://www.wbez.org/tags/foreclosure-crisis Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Two Chicago groups win MacArthur grants http://www.wbez.org/story/two-chicago-groups-win-macarthur-grants-96482 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-16/troubled pic even smaller.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two Chicago-based non-profits, Community Investment Corporation and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, have won prestigious MacArthur Foundation grants.&nbsp;<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-16/troubled pic even smaller.jpg" style="border-width: initial; border-color: initial; margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 400px; " title="Community Investment Corporation buys troubled apartment buildings and sells them to owners who will take better care of them. (Photo/CIC)"></p><p>The MacArthur Foundation is known for giving genius grants to creative people, but the group also makes annual awards to creative institutions.&nbsp; This year’s awards span the globe from Uganda to Mexico to here in Chicago, where the MacArthur Foundation is based.<br> <br> MacArthur President Robert Gallucci says locally, they wanted to focus on housing.<br> <br> "Housing is connected to so many other issues we care about in terms of the condition of people," Gallucci said. "It's connected to the quality of their education, their health, their overall coherence in the family, and in Chicago, housing has been particularly hard-hit."<br> <br> Community Investment Corporation is receiving $2 million. CIC President Jack Markowski says they’ll use the money to create more affordable rental housing in Chicago neighborhoods hard-hit by foreclosures.</p><p>"The whole intention is to buy bad buildings - non-functioning, distressed buildings - and get them into the hands of good owners who will rehab them and manage them well," Markowski said.&nbsp;BPI is getting $750,000, in part to train recent law school and public-policy grads in public interest law and advocacy as part of their Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship Program.</p></p> Thu, 16 Feb 2012 20:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/two-chicago-groups-win-macarthur-grants-96482 Venture: Housing group faces a changed world http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-housing-group-faces-changed-world-93796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/for sale 350 down WBEZ Ashley Gross.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The boogeyman haunting the U.S. economy is the housing market, and on Thursday, we get the latest foreclosure numbers. Realtors, construction workers, mortgage brokers have all had to reinvent themselves since the housing bust.</p><p>But what if you’re a housing non-profit devoted to helping people achieve homeownership? Their world has been turned upside-down and they’re having to press the restart button, too.</p><p>Deborah Moore has worked for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago for 14 years. She walks down the 7700 block of South Throop Street in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, visibly proud of this block, which Neighborhood Housing Services and the state, the city and other groups worked to turn into a model of green construction back in 2005.</p><p>NHS overhauled two brick bungalows here – we’re talking geothermal energy, carpet made out of recycled soda bottles, that kind of thing. NHS advised the homebuyers and lent them the money and, Moore says, produced at least one devoted environmentalist.</p><p>"At first he wasn’t really into all of the green stuff," Moore said. "Then he started really studying the geothermal, then he started calling us telling us we didn’t put it deep enough."</p><p><img alt="Deborah Moore in front of a bungalow NHS rehabbed using green building methods (" class="caption" height="337" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/deborah pic small 2.jpg" title="Deborah Moore in front of a bungalow NHS rehabbed using green building methods (WBEZ/Ashley Gross)" width="600"></p><p>Fast-forward six years and while the block isn’t decimated, it’s not really thriving either. Next door to the geothermal house is an empty lot. Moore says nearby St. Sabina Church planned to build there, and then shelved the idea. Next to that is a vacant house that looks like a foreclosure, and yet another one a couple doors down. Moore says it’s hard for her to look at this street without feeling discouraged.</p><p>"This is the kind of revitalization that we were doing in the late '90s and the early 2000s that just got halted, and now we’re just trying to hold everything where it is until such time that we can start to rebuild again," Moore said.</p><p>Ed Jacob says it feels like the organization is playing defense now instead of offense.</p><p>He took over as the head of Neighborhood Housing Services last year. Talk about a big job to jump into – his predecessor Bruce Gottschall had been there since NHS started in 1975 as a group dedicated to lending in neglected neighborhoods. And the housing crisis meant blocks NHS had worked hard to turn around were slipping backward again. And NHS traditionally offered counseling to help people buy homes – but not that many people out there can these days, especially in the South and West Side areas NHS serves. A lot of people are out of work or have bad credit from foreclosures stemming from subprime loans.</p><p>How has all of this changed what NHS does these days?</p><p>"We’re not in a position to tackle the toughest building on the toughest block, where five years ago we would have been able to do that," Jacob said.</p><p>He says NHS has shifted a lot of its resources from working with new first-time homebuyers to helping people stay in their homes through foreclosure assistance. But he says that takes a big toll on his staff.</p><p>"It’s much tougher on our housing counselors," Jacob said. "Five years ago they were sharing a moment of joy with a family as they got the keys to the home. Now they’re sitting down with people who in some cases are not in a position to stay in their home."</p><p><img alt="Vacant buildings line this block in West Humboldt Park, an area NHS is focused o" class="caption" height="337" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/west humboldt park vacant bldgs.jpg" title="Vacant buildings line this block in West Humboldt Park, an area NHS is focused on (WBEZ/Ashley Gross)" width="600"><br> <br> But housing counseling is just one part of what NHS does. The organization lends money and also develops and rehabs homes.</p><p>"Anybody who’s been a lender in the last five years in our neighborhoods, anybody who’s been a developer in the last five years in our neighborhoods, and any non-profit in our neighborhoods in the last five years has been in a challenging environment," Jacob said. "We hit the trifecta. We’re all three of those."</p><p>So what do you do? Just like lots of for-profit companies and other non-profits, NHS is having to adapt to this topsy-turvy world. Their lending has shrunk by half since 2007. But they prevented 655 foreclosures this year - seven times as many as in 2007.</p><p>Still, Jacob says they need to figure out new ways to achieve their mission of revitalizing hard-hit neighborhoods. With that task ahead of him, what keeps him up at night?</p><p>"The fact that this is going on a lot longer than any of us thought it would and that it’s deeper," Jacob said. "We have got to make changes and adjust based on that and that’s very difficult for any organization to do. The reason I took this position is because if you want to have an impact in the housing market in Chicago there is no more important organization than NHS, but this is the most challenging time in NHS’s history, in our 35-year history, and it scares me that we may not have hit bottom yet."</p><p>As for what NHS plans to do differently, Jacob says they're facing the fact there won't be enough owner-occupants to buy all the vacant homes in Chicago.</p><p><img alt="NHS says buyers are hard to find for houses like this one in West Humboldt Park " class="caption" height="337" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/for sale 350 down.jpg" title="NHS says buyers are hard to find for houses like this one in West Humboldt Park (WBEZ/Ashley Gross)" width="600"><br> <br> "We have got to figure out a strategy to work with good investor owners," Jacob said. "It’s a change in strategy that we now accept the fact we have to figure out how are we going to lend to investor owners, how are we going to work with small investor owners on the property management side with issues of tenant screening. We are never going to occupy all the vacant buildings we have in the city of Chicago with owner-occupants."</p><p>So it’s a work in progress, this reinvention of NHS. But Ed Jacob says he’s inspired by his employees who remain optimistic they’ll succeed in turning communities around, block by block, eventually.</p><p>"You’ve got to find hope in the people who live on the blocks and the people you’ve been working with," he said. "You’ve got to find hope in that, because you’re not going to find it in the statistics, the real estate statistics every month."</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 06:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-housing-group-faces-changed-world-93796 Cook County foreclosures backlogged in courts http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-foreclosures-backlogged-courts-92348 <p><p>A new study says Chicago-area foreclosure cases are taking longer to process.&nbsp;</p><p>The data, compiled by Woodstock Institute, says the median time for a house to complete foreclosure in the second quarter of 2011 was 359 days. That’s up 25 percent compared to the same time last year and a record high since the housing crisis started in 2008.</p><p>According to Sarah Duda, a senior researcher at Woodstock Institute, last year’s foreclosure moratorium and increased case scrutiny overwhelmed the courts and contributed to a backlog in the system.</p><p>“A lot of the cases that were set to be scheduled or set to be processed in 2010 or in 2011 - those are getting pushed back,” Duda said. “This particular data, foreclosure data, is very sensitive to process changes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the levels of distress in communities are getting better.”</p><p>The study also shows the number of houses completing foreclosure at auction in the first six months of this year was cut in half compared to the same time last year. Duda attributes that to the court backlog, not to less foreclosure filings. She said that while longer processing times could help families save their homes, they can also put increased pressure on neighborhoods struggling with high vacancy rates.&nbsp;</p><p>“If the property’s vacant, longer process times could be problematic and very harmful for communities,” said Duda, who cited earlier Woodstock research with connecting incidences of foreclosure to increases in violent crime and decreased property values. “When there’s a vacant property that’s tied up in foreclosure where there’s unclear ownership, unclear responsibility, it has more opportunity to be toxic and contribute to destabilizing impacts.”</p></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 20:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-foreclosures-backlogged-courts-92348 Chicago foreclosure crisis prompts summit http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-foreclosure-crisis-prompts-summit-89792 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/RS342_AP070829057762-foreclosure David Zalubowski-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Cook County the number of outstanding foreclosure cases stands at 70,000, a figure that prompted an emergency summit Thursday by longtime Chicago community organizer Leon Finney. The meeting attracted the likes of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis and state Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood.</p><p>Finney said it was necessary to hear directly from various officials because, despite declarations that the recession is over, solutions to the housing crisis still require a clear assessment.</p><p>“We didn’t know what happened with the housing bubble and why it burst," Finney said. "My sense is we were traumatized, looking for what happened and it was almost like a bomb had been dropped on us and didn’t know where it came from and what inspired it.”</p><p>In the next few months, a working group that sprang from the summit will suggest local solutions to the foreclosure plague. Finney said the group will consider various tactics, including improved home-ownership counseling, tighter bank regulations and stronger courts.</p><p>The summit took place midday at the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church. At about the same time, Chicago alderman passed a separate action that aims to alleviate the impact of foreclosures within the city.</p><p>The new ordinance will hold banks responsible for the maintenance of foreclosed properties. Last year, the city spent more than $15 million to demolish or upkeep vacant buildings.</p></p> Fri, 29 Jul 2011 10:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-foreclosure-crisis-prompts-summit-89792 As number of foreclosed homes grows, so does mold http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-12/number-foreclosed-homes-grows-so-does-mold-89072 <p><p>As huge numbers of foreclosed homes continue to work their way through the real estate pipeline, another problem is blossoming — mold.</p><p>In most homes, as residents go in and out and the seasons change, natural ventilation sucks moisture up to the attic and out through the roof. It's called the "stack effect." And in many parts of the country, it's driven by air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.</p><p>But no one is going in or out of most foreclosed homes — regardless of climate, and the effects can be devastating.</p><p>In some states, it's estimated that more than half of foreclosed homes have mold and mildew issues. Realtors across the country say they're seeing the problem in everything from bungalows to mansions.</p><p>Bob Bennett runs Farsight Management in Northeastern Ohio, which specializes in cleaning up water-damaged buildings.</p><p>A full quarter of his work now comes from moldy, foreclosed homes where the electricity's been shut off. No electricity means no sump pump or dehumidifier for months, even years, and that often means mold. Slimy black or green patches creeping up drywall and blanketing bathroom fixtures.</p><p>"Here, water came out of the sump, and it got underneath the carpet, came over to the wall, and then wicked up the side of the gypsum board, so you can see this banding where the top of the wicking stopped," he says.</p><p>Even minor mold abatement can start at $5,000 and cost much, much more. In this particular case, Bennett estimates more than $6,000, plus the cost of new floors, walls and carpet.</p><p><strong>A Manifestation Of The Foreclosure Crisis</strong></p><p>He wears a head-to-toe protective suit on most jobs, while Realtor Rebecca Terakedis shows an increasing number of abandoned, foreclosed and moldy, but otherwise fine, homes to prospective buyers.</p><p>"I have a release form that I use, and if the property's got a lot of mold in it, I don't even let my own husband go in it without signing this disclosure because I don't want the liability," she says. "I had one really interesting [one]. It was the middle of winter, there were icicles coming out of the windows above the garage, no heat, but it was 80 degrees inside of the house because it was self-composting."</p><p>Realtors say they don't think banks mean to incur thousands of dollars in mold damage just to save on monthly utility bills. But the mold problem appears largely to be a manifestation of the foreclosure crisis. Bills go unpaid, houses sit vacant and the whole process takes much longer than anyone wants.</p><p>Ohio Bankers League President, Mike Van Buskirk, says by the time the banks process foreclosure paperwork, its often too late.</p><p>"There are a lot of steps in government, the courts, county sheriff that are involved in it," he says. "While it varies across the state, some of them, thinking they're helping the consumers, are really dragging out the process, so that it can take two or three years."</p><p>Realtor Jill Flagg says many lenders won't sell a home for less than the mortgage note, so the house sits and sits, and it continues to grow mold.</p><p>"I had an offer on a house with Bank of America where they have agreed to do a short sale, and it's been over two months, and they haven't even responded to the offer," she says. "They don't have enough staff to move it along — too backed up. They don't have enough qualified people who know what they're doing, and you know, it's in a pile somewhere."</p><p>Charges of faulty paperwork have slowed the pace of foreclosures in recent months and that may be exacerbating the mold problem — as those houses sit and bake through the long, hot summer. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 WKSU-FM. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1310542050?&gn=As+Number+Of+Foreclosed+Homes+Grows%2C+So+Does+Mold&ev=event2&ch=130729880&h1=Crisis+In+The+Housing+Market,Around+the+Nation,Economy,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=137629788&c7=1017&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1017&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110713&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=471&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=130729880&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-07-12/number-foreclosed-homes-grows-so-does-mold-89072