WBEZ | foreclosures http://www.wbez.org/tags/foreclosures Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois gets federal money to demolish blighted homes http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-gets-federal-money-demolish-blighted-homes-109930 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/blight.png" alt="" /><p><p>Some parts of Illinois&rsquo; housing market seem to be on a somewhat steady recovery. But communities such as Englewood on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side struggle to even stabilize.</p><p>Illinois was awarded $445 million in federal foreclosure prevention resources under the U.S. Treasury Department&rsquo;s Hardest Hit Fund. Today, the Treasury announced it will allow $30 million from that fund to help demolish vacant properties in blighted areas around the state.</p><p>Mark McArdle is the chief homeowner preservation officer of the Treasury Department. He says blighted properties not only bring down property values in a neighborhood, but can attract crime.</p><p>&ldquo;You have homeowners that are trying everything they can to stay in their house, but when they have two or three vacant houses on their block at some point they say, &lsquo;Why am I fighting so hard to stay in this home?&rsquo; So this [puts them] in a more sustainable position,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McArdle said only a few other states have used the funds for demolition. Michigan was the first. He said it is too early to quantify direct results, but said research shows blighted homes are a destabilizing force.</p><p>&ldquo;You want to keep the person not only in their home but make sure the neighborhood where that home is located is stable as well,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Not everyone in the neighborhood will agree with demolition as a solution to stabilize. Mary Kenney, executive director for Illinois Housing Development Authority said the state has helped to keep people in their homes and helped rehab troubled properties, but not every house can be saved. Kenney said demolition is the next step in neighborhood stabilization.</p><p>&ldquo;Aside from the fact that they&rsquo;re eyesores, they&rsquo;re often dangerous. We see a lot of mischief around these properties. I think our first goal is to really make sure we&rsquo;re eliminating that from these communities,&rdquo; Kenney said.</p><p>Eligible communities can apply for demolition assistance starting this summer and will also be responsible for upkeep of the resulting vacant lot.</p><p>The first demolitions with federal funding could happen as soon as this fall.</p><p><em>Susie An is WBEZ&rsquo;s business reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 16:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-gets-federal-money-demolish-blighted-homes-109930 Protections for renters in foreclosed buildings take effect http://www.wbez.org/news/protections-renters-foreclosed-buildings-take-effect-108756 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/signs.jpg" style="height: 284px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Albany Park Neighborhood Council members gathered Tuesday to publicize the Keep Chicago Renting ordinance, passed in June by the Chicago City Council. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Tenant advocates cheered Tuesday as new Chicago protections for renters in foreclosed buildings took effect. Their challenge now, they say, is spreading the word about the ordinance.<br /><br />&ldquo;The banks will be fighting it,&rdquo; said Diane Limas of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, a group that worked for years to pass the measure. &ldquo;They will try to figure out every way to throw families out in the streets. But the best way to fight back against the banks is to make sure every renter knows their rights.&rdquo;<br /><br />The ordinance, known as Keep Chicago Renting, won City Council approval in June. It requires the foreclosing entity to provide a building&rsquo;s tenants with a rent-controlled lease until selling the property &mdash; or pay them a &ldquo;relocation assistance&rdquo; fee of $10,600 per unit. The goal is to keep renters in their homes and keep the buildings from standing vacant and attracting vandals, squatters and thieves.<br /><br />Last year there were 4,346 foreclosures on Chicago apartment buildings encompassing 11,932 units, according to the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing, which pushed for the ordinance. The committee says half of those foreclosures were filed by five companies: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and Deutsche Bank. Banks filed about 11 percent of Chicago evictions in the last half of 2012, the committee adds.<br /><br />Groups representing bankers, realtors and landlords say the ordinance will backfire. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be a disincentive for investment in multi-units from a wide range of financing sources,&rdquo; said Brian Bernardoni, senior director of government affairs and public policy of the Illinois Association of Realtors. &ldquo;Any time you have a lack of investment, there&rsquo;s going to be a lack of rehab, a lack of sustainable affordable housing and preservation of affordable housing units.&rdquo;<br /><br />Tenant advocates point out that the measure applies only to the first owner after the foreclosure auction. From there, any party that buys the building is free to evict the tenants without the relocation fee.<br /><br />As aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration worked on the measure this spring, the Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association warned that the rent cap would violate the Illinois constitution. Questioned Tuesday, neither the mortgage bankers group nor the Illinois Bankers Association answered whether they were planning a court challenge.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/protections-renters-foreclosed-buildings-take-effect-108756 For subsidized renters, CHA inspections may be first hint of foreclosure http://www.wbez.org/news/subsidized-renters-cha-inspections-may-be-first-hint-foreclosure-108632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/vouchers_130909_nm(1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>When Johneece Cobb collected the mail not long ago at her home in Auburn Gresham, one piece of mail stuck out.</p><p>&ldquo;A letter came in a manila envelope and it said Citibank on it. It was [the landlord&rsquo;s]. I put it in the pile,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>That night Cobb couldn&rsquo;t sleep. She had a nagging feeling that something was wrong.</p><p>&ldquo;Something just kept telling me, look at that envelope. Look at that envelope. I got up at 3 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, walked downstairs got that envelope and I opened it and it was the court papers for the foreclosure,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>This was all news to Cobb. Her landlord never told her. Cobb pays her rent via a subsidized voucher program commonly known as Section 8.</p><p>&ldquo;I have COPD. I&rsquo;m an oxygen patient. And I&rsquo;m disabled. And at this point, I cannot afford to live if it wasn&rsquo;t for Section 8,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But in this case there wasn&rsquo;t much she could do. It turns out the foreclosure process was underway before she even moved in. Cobb was forced to move out of the home on 84th and Sangamon.</p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority administers the federally subsidized housing choice voucher program &mdash; its largest portfolio of low-income renters. Cobb said CHA swiftly helped her relocate after she alerted officials. But she was in a precarious spot.</p><p>As the foreclosure dragged on, the landlord stopped the upkeep of the property but kept collecting a check from CHA. A month before she moved out, CHA inspected the property and gave it a failing grade.</p><p>That inspection report could&rsquo;ve been the first clue that the property was in trouble.</p><p>According to a <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2013/09/subsidized-housing-voucher-renters-cope-foreclosures" target="_blank">data analysis by <em>The Chicago Reporter</em></a> there&rsquo;s a strong correlation between failed CHA inspections and foreclosures. Beginning in January of last year nearly 1,550 properties occupied by voucher-holders have been named in a foreclosure filing.</p><p>Since 2008, banks have taken over more than 2,400 properties that were inspected within a year of the foreclosure sale. Inspection data from the Chicago Housing Authority suggests that many of the properties were on the slide in the year before the banks took them back.</p><p>Yet many landlords were still receiving subsidies from CHA.</p><p>&ldquo;Where there&rsquo;s smoke there&rsquo;s fire,&rdquo; said Elizabeth Rosenthal, an attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation, which helps voucher holders who get caught up in the system. &ldquo;You can guess that if there&rsquo;s a landlord that&rsquo;s completely stopped taking care of a building, there&rsquo;s a good chance that there&rsquo;s a foreclosure coming down the pike.&rdquo;</p><p>Rosenthal said CHA is responsive to residents, but she wishes there was a more formal policy on the books.</p><p>&ldquo;We do get a fair number of cases where the tenant calls us because they&rsquo;ve been notified that their building is in foreclosure or sometimes they don&rsquo;t even know their building is in foreclosure. They figure it out because they get a notice from the gas company,&rdquo; Rosenthal said.</p><p>And when that happens often their next phone call is to Tamiko Holt, a voucher holder who advocates on behalf of tenants to CHA. She, too, was forced to move out of a unit more than a decade ago after her landlord went through foreclosure.</p><p>Now she helps renters like Johneece Cobb fight for their security deposits once they move out. It&rsquo;s more than an inconvenience. Hundreds of dollars or more can be a lot for a low-income family.</p><p>&ldquo;We have no protection as far as security deposits. It&rsquo;s like a roll of the dice. Is this landlord or owner going to give your security deposit back or not?&rdquo; Holt said, adding that she wants CHA to do more homework before tenants are placed.</p><p>&ldquo;If they did that, then tenants wouldn&rsquo;t be faced with, &lsquo;oh I&rsquo;ve only been here three or four months, now I&rsquo;ve got to go&rsquo; because this property was going into foreclosure.&rdquo;</p><p>According to CHA&rsquo;s Chief Housing Officer Ellen Sahli, CHA is, in fact, doing more to prevent that from happening. Still, she said when foreclosure notices are sent out they don&rsquo;t go to CHA.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things that we are looking at and working with our partners on is how we can get those type of supports to us as well,&rdquo; Sahli said.</p><p>But when pressed for details Sahli said &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t at this time give a timeline on it. I think these are all issues that are important to us and we&rsquo;re working hard to figure out what the right strategy is.&rdquo;</p><p>Since the foreclosure crisis hit, there have been new state and local laws to help renters. But tenants don&rsquo;t always know when a bank is stepping in.</p><p>On a recent afternoon at Nikki Johnson&rsquo;s airy, three-bedroom South Shore apartment, the television is on a cartoon channel and the toddlers are sleeping. Johnson runs an in-home daycare.</p><p>Her building is in foreclosure. But she didn&rsquo;t know until I knocked on her door.</p><p>And Johnson was surprised.</p><p>&ldquo;If I do have to move, I want enough time where I could be able to be settled and find something that I can afford. I don&rsquo;t want just to jump out there again in the wind. I&rsquo;m hoping if I do have to move, the program will assist me as far as helping me find another landlord who will take the program,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p><p>Johnson&rsquo;s landlord, who didn&rsquo;t want to be identified, said he got swallowed by new bank policies that wouldn&rsquo;t renew his loan. That, coupled with the falling value of the property, led to foreclosure.</p><p>Unlike a lot of landlords, he said he will continue to cut the grass and pay the bills.</p><p>He may not be paying the mortgage &mdash; but he&rsquo;s still getting money from CHA.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p><p><em>Angela Caputo of The Chicago Reporter crunched and analyzed the data for this report.</em></p></p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 09:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/subsidized-renters-cha-inspections-may-be-first-hint-foreclosure-108632 Morning Shift: How service members seek conscientious objector status http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-24/morning-shift-how-service-members-seek-conscientious <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Marine-Flickr- United States Marine Corps Official Page.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Now that the armed forces is voluntary enlistment, we may think that service members no longer seek conscientious objector status. That&#39;s not the case. We learn more about the application process for conscientious status.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-29.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-29" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: How service members seek conscientious objector status " on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 07:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-24/morning-shift-how-service-members-seek-conscientious Protesters urge banks to give foreclosed homes back to community http://www.wbez.org/news/protesters-urge-banks-give-foreclosed-homes-back-community-108059 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Foreclosed_130715_yp.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In a downtown highrise, a foreclosure auction takes place. But during the relatively quiet proceedings, a group of ten protesters try to take it over.</p><p>Jorge Ortiz is with The Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction. He wants banks to be altruistic and help communities affected by foreclosures.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean we have houses that are empty and abandoned that go on like this for years. They create insecurity in our communities,&rdquo; says Ortiz. &ldquo;They devastate our communities. Not to mention the displacement that happens.&rdquo;</p><p>The group grew to more than 60 people by the time they marched west to protest at Citibank offices at the Ogilvie Transportation Center on Madison Street.</p><p>The organization wants banks to donate foreclosed properties to a community land trust. It&rsquo;s a nonprofit providing affordable housing.</p><p>Currently, they have no homes that have been donated by banks or other lenders. But today&rsquo;s protests weren&rsquo;t for naught. Before police escorted protesters out of the Ogilvie Transportation Center, Ortiz was given the name of a Citibank vice president to contact to continue the conversation.<br /><br /><em>Yolanda Perdomo is a host and producer at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 16:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/protesters-urge-banks-give-foreclosed-homes-back-community-108059 Take Root Chicago launches to stabilize housing http://www.wbez.org/news/take-root-chicago-launches-stabilize-housing-107843 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/housing.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A new program to help struggling and potential homeowners is launching in Chicago.</p><p><a href="http://www.takerootchicago.org/">Take Root Chicago</a> will bring lenders, housing nonprofits and advocacy groups under one umbrella. The online portal, which offers a plethora of programs, is targeted at both potential home buyers and those trying to stave off foreclosure.</p><p>Take Root Chicago is sponsored by the Chicago Urban League and Freddie Mac. The program&rsquo;s services range from how to buy cheap vacant homes to financial counseling to finding lending options for first-time buyers.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to go to each person to understand what that specific organization is providing. You just go one place and everybody working together to make it happen,&rdquo; said Christina Diaz-Malone, vice president of housing and community outreach for Freddie Mac.</p><p>Take Root Chicago is free to the public and starts August 1. Similar programs are already up and running in Milwaukee, South Florida, Jacksonville and Denver.</p><p>Diaz-Malone said the city is in the top ten of of Freddie Mac&rsquo;s high delinquency markets.</p><p>&ldquo;The goals of the partnership are twofold: increase homeownership and retain or maintain current homeownership,&rdquo; Diaz-Malone said.</p><p>Chicago has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Twenty-five percent of blacks in the city have lost their homes during the current crisis, according to the Chicago Urban League. The damage is still visible in pockets of the South and West Sides where some blocks have more boarded-up homes than those that are occupied.</p><p>&ldquo;The devastation that is taking place particularly in African-American and Latino communities in Chicago is tremendous,&rdquo; said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who has <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-06-29/business/ct-biz-0630-countrywide-20100629_1_latino-borrowers-subprime-loans-countrywide-financial-corp">sued</a> subprime <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2007/12/illinois-attorney-general-subpoenas-countrywide">lenders</a>. &ldquo;It wiped out a generation of wealth building and it is going to take us at least a generation to rebuild. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s important that we&rsquo;re here on the backend of this crisis to put in place the resources.&rdquo;</p><p>Sharon Legenza, executive director of Housing Action Illinois, said a one-stop program like Take Root Chicago will be beneficial.</p><p>&ldquo;As most people know we have been very focused on foreclosure prevention programs. This is starting to turn that corner, to bring under one roof both information for foreclosure prevention and the homeownership side,&rdquo; Legenza said. &ldquo;This is unique because it starts to link housing &ndash; rental or homeownership &ndash; as a continuum in peoples&rsquo; lives.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Natalie Moore is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Jun 2013 16:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/take-root-chicago-launches-stabilize-housing-107843 City Council enacts ‘Keep Chicago Renting’ ordinance http://www.wbez.org/news/city-council-enacts-%E2%80%98keep-chicago-renting%E2%80%99-ordinance-107553 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SifuentesCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 268px; width: 300px;" title="Housing activist María Elena Sifuentes celebrates outside the council chambers after the vote. ‘We beat the banks,' she says. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The Chicago City Council on Wednesday afternoon approved protections for renters whose units have entered foreclosure. The ordinance passed in a 45-4 vote after more than a year of organizing by tenant advocates.</p><p>The measure, dubbed Keep Chicago Renting, will require the foreclosing bank to provide the tenants a rent-controlled lease until selling the property or pay them a &ldquo;relocation assistance&rdquo; fee of $10,600 per unit. The goal is to keep renters in their homes and keep the buildings from standing vacant and breeding crime.</p><p>María Elena Sifuentes, a housing activist with the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, said she had been working for an ordinance like this for four years. The council vote left her &ldquo;overwhelmed, excited, speechless,&rdquo; she&nbsp;said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a victory for us that we got this, especially because we&rsquo;re just the little people and we beat the banks.&rdquo;</p><p>The aldermen casting &ldquo;no&rdquo; votes were Mary O&rsquo;Connor (41st), Patrick O&rsquo;Connor (40th), Matthew O&rsquo;Shea (19th) and Michael Zalewski (23rd).</p><p>An earlier version of the proposal, introduced by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) last July, would have prohibited post-foreclosure evictions outright except under narrow circumstances such as the tenants&rsquo; failure to pay rent.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration worried that version might not withstand legal challenges. Instead of the eviction ban, the city pushed for requiring the banks to pay the relocation fee. Negotiations between City Hall and tenant advocates dragged on for months. The sides did not finalize the amount of the fee until last week.</p><p>The council&rsquo;s Housing and Real Estate Committee, chaired by Ald. Ray Suárez (31st), held two hearings on the bill last month. Before both hearings and Wednesday&rsquo;s vote,&nbsp;tenant activists dressed in orange T-shirts rallied outside the council chambers.</p><p>Groups representing banks, landlords and realtors tried to delay the vote. They said the measure would violate Illinois statutes, including a law that bars local governments from setting up rent control. They claimed the ordinance would also discourage lending in the city. Their arguments did not gain much traction in City Hall.</p><p>After the vote, Mell said his fellow aldermen had realized something: &ldquo;They&rsquo;re all plagued by vacant properties where the banks have thrown the people out. The gangbangers go in. They strip the copper out of the properties and they use them for hangouts and they ruin the neighborhood. So this is one more tool, hopefully, [to] help bring our neighborhoods back.&rdquo;</p><p>The ordinance could have far-reaching effects. More than 50,000 Chicago rental units went into foreclosure between 2009 and 2011, according to the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing, which supported the measure. Crime in abandoned buildings and vacant lots has increased nearly 48 percent since 2005, according to the committee.</p><p><em><a href="“http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0”" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="“https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1”" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="“https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud”" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="“https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1”" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="“http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1”" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-council-enacts-%E2%80%98keep-chicago-renting%E2%80%99-ordinance-107553 Twice hit with foreclosure, family looks to proposed renter protections http://www.wbez.org/news/twice-hit-foreclosure-family-looks-proposed-renter-protections-107538 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/HildaQuiloCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 222px; width: 300px;" title="If the Chicago City Council enacts the ordinance Wednesday, Hilda Quilo and her family could keep their home. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The three-bedroom house where Hilda Quilo and her husband thought they would be raising their three children stands on a quiet, leafy block in Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood.</p><p>They bought the place in 1999. Quilo, 40, said everything was fine until the recession, when her husband&rsquo;s construction work dried up and they couldn&rsquo;t keep up on the mortgage payments.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to refinance and we asked the bank to help us,&rdquo; Quilo said in Spanish.</p><p>All they got was an eviction notice. So, after 10 years in the house, the family had to move out.</p><p>It turns out their foreclosure troubles were just beginning. The family went on the rental market and eventually found another house just down the block. They signed a lease in 2010 and, Quilo said, always paid their rent.</p><p>This January, however, the family started getting bank and court notices in the mail. And the landlord went missing. &ldquo;We discovered that this house was in foreclosure too,&rdquo; Quilo said.</p><p>This time, Quilo and the rest of the family were even more helpless because they were just renters. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re expecting an eviction notice,&rdquo; Quilo said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an uncertainty that keeps me from sleeping.&rdquo;</p><p>The Quilos are not the first Chicago family to be hit twice by the foreclosure crisis, tenant advocates say. &ldquo;Hilda&rsquo;s story is a common experience for many people who go from being a homeowner to a tenant,&rdquo; said Marcelo Ferrer, foreclosure-prevention director of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trausch.jpg" style="float: right; height: 259px; width: 250px;" title="James E. Trausch, general counsel of the Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association, calls the measure ‘a backdoor attempt at rent control.’ (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />When landlords face foreclosure, renters like the Quilos need some extra help, Ferrer said. &ldquo;It can&rsquo;t just be one person versus the bank.&rdquo;</p><p>The help Ferrer has in mind is <a href="http://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1156573&amp;GUID=4F709387-96EE-4BD0-9950-C692DE714378&amp;Options=Advanced&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Keep Chicago Renting</a>, a proposed ordinance the City Council could approve Wednesday. The measure would require a bank that forecloses on a rental building to let the tenants stay, and to cap the rent, until selling the property. As an alternative, the bank could pay the tenants a relocation fee of $10,600 per unit.</p><p>An earlier version of the proposal, introduced by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) last July, would have banned post-foreclosure evictions outright except under narrow circumstances such as failure to pay rent.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration helped develop the current version and says the measure would keep such units occupied.</p><p>Mell agrees. &ldquo;All I want is the banks to say, &lsquo;Hey, let&rsquo;s figure out how we&rsquo;re going to take some haircuts on some of these properties and put them back on the market, not just sit on it.&rsquo; &rdquo; the alderman said during a hearing on the measure last month.</p><p>The implications are huge. A <a href="http://lcbh.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/LCBH-Three-Year-Impact-Assessment-Apartment-Building-Foreclosures-and-the-Depletion-of-Rental-Housing-in-Chicago.pdf" target="_blank">study by the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing</a>, another backer of the legislation, found almost 52,000 Chicago rental units went into foreclosure between 2009 and 2011.</p><p>But banks, landlords and realtors are trying to put brakes on the measure. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a backdoor attempt at rent control,&rdquo; said James E. Trausch, general counsel of the Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association, pointing to an <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=748&amp;ChapterID=11" target="_blank">Illinois statute that prohibits</a> local governments from setting up rent control.</p><p>The proposed ordinance would also discourage lending in the city, Trausch said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s always a bad thing. The [fewer] lenders you have loaning money, the less competition they have to offer the best rates.&rdquo;</p><p>Asked what he would tell renters such as Hilda Quilo, Trausch does not hesitate.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say, pick her landlords better,&rdquo; Trausch answered. &ldquo;A tenant who wants to rent a unit can go into the public records and see if there has been a foreclosure filed. And foreclosures take two years so you have ample notice that you shouldn&rsquo;t be renting this property.&rdquo;</p><p>That advice is cold comfort for the Quilo family.</p><p>&ldquo;My kids have grown up on this block,&rdquo; Quilo said. And that&rsquo;s where she wants them to stay. So she&rsquo;s planning to be at Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting.</p><p>Quilo said the outcome could keep her family from losing its home again because of foreclosure.</p><p><em><a href="“http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0”" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="“https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1”" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="“https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud”" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="“https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1”" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="“http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1”" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/twice-hit-foreclosure-family-looks-proposed-renter-protections-107538 City Council panel OKs protections for renters after foreclosure http://www.wbez.org/news/city-council-panel-oks-protections-renters-after-foreclosure-106941 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Abandoned.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Abandoned rental buildings like this one hurt Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. (Photo courtesy of Action Now)" />A proposal aimed at protecting renters in foreclosed buildings won the backing of a Chicago City Council panel on Wednesday, but not without a few sparks.</p><p>The council&rsquo;s Housing and Real Estate Committee passed the measure in a voice vote after about 90 minutes of debate.</p><p>Ald. Matthew O&rsquo;Shea (19th), who said he supported an earlier version, decried provisions that would require the foreclosing banks to pay tenants a &ldquo;relocation assistance&rdquo; fee of $12,000 per unit or offer them rent-controlled leases until selling the building.</p><p>&ldquo;Making foreclosed properties considerably more expensive to hold will further drive down their price at sale or auction,&rdquo; said O&rsquo;Shea, the only alderman who voiced opposition to the measure. &ldquo;We are in essence reducing the value of all surrounding properties.&rdquo;</p><p>Other aldermen, including Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), said what&rsquo;s dragging down home prices in their wards is the abandonment of properties after foreclosure. &ldquo;How many people are sitting in their house every night, worried about if there&rsquo;s going to be a fire next door to them because [banks] made the people who were renting there move out and leave the building vacant?&rdquo; Burnett asked.</p><p>The earlier version, introduced by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) and dubbed &ldquo;Keep Chicago Renting,&rdquo; would have banned post-foreclosure evictions except under limited circumstances such as the tenant&rsquo;s failure to pay rent.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration said it agreed with the goal &mdash; keeping renters in their homes &mdash; but raised legal concerns. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-push-emanuel-protect-renters-foreclosed-units-106197">Months of negotiations between city officials and tenant advocates</a> led to the version now in the council.</p><p>Before the hearing, members of 11 community groups behind the measure donned orange T-shirts and rallied outside the council chambers. The groups included the Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing, which brandished new research showing crime in abandoned buildings and vacant lots is up nearly 48 percent since 2005.</p><p>At the rally, Mell responded to an Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mortgage-bankers-slam-proposed-tenant-protections-106917">claim that the ordinance would lead to litigation</a> and congest a court system already struggling with a huge backlog of foreclosure cases. &ldquo;Why would it clog it up if the banks go along with it?&rdquo; Mell asked.</p><p>The most detailed testimony against the plan came from Brian Bernardoni, senior director of government affairs and public policy for the Chicago Association of Realtors. &ldquo;This ordinance is bad for the market and bad for transfer-tax revenues,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Bernardoni claimed that forcing lenders to renew leases would amount to an unconstitutional &ldquo;taking,&rdquo; a legal term describing government acquisition of private property without fair compensation. &ldquo;Landlords have the right to evict a tenant at the expiration of a lease,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>An Emanuel administration representative at the hearing said Chicago officials considered such claims while developing the legislation. &ldquo;If that&rsquo;s the lawsuit, we&rsquo;ll take that one on,&rdquo; Rose Kelly, senior counsel in the city&rsquo;s law department, told the aldermen.</p><p>No mortgage lenders addressed the committee but some voiced opposition to the measure Wednesday.</p><p>&ldquo;If a lender is compelled by the ordinance to provide relocation assistance of $12,000, it may opt to release its lien and walk away from the property &mdash; thereby causing more, not less, building abandonments,&rdquo; James E. Trausch, general counsel of the mortgage bankers association, wrote Wednesday in a message to WBEZ.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago will become an unfriendly lending environment as more lenders simply pass on lending in the city because it is not worthy of the investment,&rdquo; Trausch wrote.</p><p>The Illinois Bankers Association and the Chicagoland Apartment Association also indicated opposition.</p><p>Ald. Ray Suárez (31st), the committee chairman, said he would not refer the measure to the full council until June 5. He said the delay would allow more time to hear from the legislation&rsquo;s opponents.</p><p><em><a href="“http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0”">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="“https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1”">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="“https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud”">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="“https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1”">Facebook</a> and <a href="“http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1”">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 18:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-council-panel-oks-protections-renters-after-foreclosure-106941 Mortgage bankers slam proposed tenant protections http://www.wbez.org/news/mortgage-bankers-slam-proposed-tenant-protections-106917 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FronCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 261px; width: 300px;" title="But Patricia Fron of the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing says the plan would help keep buildings occupied and discourage crime. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />A group of mortgage lenders has a warning about a proposed ordinance that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration helped craft to protect tenants of foreclosed buildings. The Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association says the plan, set for a City Council hearing on Wednesday, would clog courts already struggling with a huge backlog of foreclosure cases.</p><p>&ldquo;Illinois has the second-largest backlog in the nation,&rdquo; said Robert Emanuel (no relation to the mayor), a Chicago attorney who serves on the association&rsquo;s executive committee. &ldquo;This is going to add either a new form of litigation or it&rsquo;s going to complicate existing foreclosures.&rdquo;</p><p>The proposal, called the &ldquo;Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Rental Property Ordinance,&rdquo; would require banks to pay a $12,000 &ldquo;relocation assistance&rdquo; fee to renters evicted after a repossession or offer them rent-controlled leases until selling the building. The ordinance would apply to tenants in buildings large or small, even single-family houses.</p><p>An earlier version of the proposal, known as &ldquo;Keep Chicago Renting&rdquo; and introduced by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) last July, would have banned post-foreclosure evictions except under limited circumstances such as the tenant&rsquo;s failure to pay rent.</p><p>The goal is to keep renters in their homes and keep the buildings from standing vacant and breeding crime. On Tuesday, the Chicago-based Lawyers&rsquo; Committee for Better Housing released a study based on city data that showed crime in abandoned buildings and vacant lots is up nearly 48&nbsp;percent since 2005.</p><p>&ldquo;At a time when overall crime rates have been decreasing in the city of Chicago, crimes occurring within abandoned properties are actually increasing,&rdquo; said Patricia Fron, the committee&rsquo;s building programs administrator.</p><p>Tenant advocates and city officials negotiated for months before agreeing on the proposal&rsquo;s main elements in early April. The council&rsquo;s Housing Committee is holding the hearing Wednesday morning.</p><p>The mortgage bankers association says it&rsquo;s planning to send representatives to the hearing. The group says the proposal should not include single-family homes and says the blame for abandoned buildings belongs less to banks than to investors who are out to buy and sell properties for quick gain &mdash; a practice known as flipping. The bankers say the tenant ordinance would make Chicago less attractive for lending and increase costs for borrowers.</p><p>Officials of the Illinois Bankers Association, another group likely to oppose the proposal, did not return calls or messages about it Tuesday.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 00:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mortgage-bankers-slam-proposed-tenant-protections-106917