State, county project helping South Holland homeowners

2013-03-25T00:00:00Z State, county project helping South Holland homeownersMary Ann Thornton Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

During a recent conversation, a South Holland resident asked me, “What is being done about the foreclosures in our community?” Well, I can tell you that I live in a community led by a mayor who doesn’t sit still when faced with a challenge. His passion for South Holland is much too great. His determination and relentless pursuit for a model community is what drives the ambition of village officials and the administration to identify viable resources to support the needs of our residents.

Since 2007, our country has been fraught with foreclosures. States such as California, Nevada, Florida and Illinois are among the hardest hit. Within our state, Cook County is mired in vacant homes and displaced families. While South Holland is certainly not immune to this crisis, Mayor Don De Graff, the Village Board and administration are not sitting idle, waiting for the miraculous recovery of the real estate market and the economy.

The village’s aggressive approach to combating this challenge has led to the community’s participation in a pilot program created to support families trying to save their homes and to connect with buyers looking to capture, or recapture, the American dream of home ownership.

In February 2012, Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a new $55 million initiative designed to prevent foreclosures, rehabilitate bank-owned properties, and to provide financial benefits to home buyers. This state and county joint project, titled Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program, puts money on the table in five communities: Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Maywood, Park Forest, and South Holland. Additional communities have been added since the roll out of this initiative.

The program, administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, has three elements of support for the targeted areas:

1. Financing for municipalities and local developers to rehabilitate bank-owned vacant properties into affordable housing opportunities

2. Financial assistance for home buyers to acquire a property in the pilot communities

3. Prevention of additional foreclosures by providing support by way of the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (KeepYourHomeIllinois.org) for current homeowners

In October, more than 1,000 people packed into the South Holland Community Center to hear Quinn profess his commitment to reduce the impact of foreclosures and to support Illinois municipalities' efforts to re-stabilize neighborhoods hardest hit by this crises. They sat down with mortgage counselors, lenders and members of Illinois Housing Development Authority to learn first-hand of the available state-funded resources via the KeepYourHomeIllinois program.

South Holland, as a pilot community, has taken full advantage of the Illinois Building Blocks program, and the village has the statistics to support its success. To date,

• $3.87 million in buyer financing has been reserved for 32 housing units; 22 buyers have actually closed on a Building Blocks-approved property

• $2 million has been committed for 15 approved homes for acquisition and rehabilitation

• $2.6 million of the Hardest Hit Funds have provided financial assistance to 96 current homeowners

• An additional $1.6 million through the IKE program is committed for 10 units

In total, more $10 million has impacted more than 150 families. This is what is being done about foreclosures in our community.

In addition, South Holland municipal hall has served as the site for several home buyers seminars, drawing in many in pursuit of the American dream of home ownership. South Holland anticipates serving as host to more housing support meetings in 2013.

Mayor De Graff and the village of South Holland have sleeves rolled up, families are being helped, and neighborhoods are getting stronger.

To learn more about the Illinois Building Blocks program, you can visit IHDA’s website at www.ihda.org or call (312) 836-5200.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. Mary Ann Thornton is communications manager for the village of South Holland. She can be reached at mat39@comcast.net.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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