Mayors Contain Chicago Distressed Properties in the Suburbs- By: John Cutts
South suburban mayors in the Chicago area have been coordinating their efforts to contain Chicago distressed properties.
According to members of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, the southern suburban areas have the highest percentage of vacant homes in Illinois. Residential values have plunged sharply in these suburbs because of the high number of abandoned properties in neighborhoods. There are also a lot of fixer upper homes for sale that have long been waiting on the market for buyers.
To address various problems arising from high vacancy rates, suburban mayors launched the South Suburban Housing Collaborative last year. According to Janice Morrissey, head of housing initiatives, Southland mayors need to work together because it is not easy tracking the owners of abandoned properties, monitoring maintenance and organizing information.
Among the 11 southern suburbs participating in the joint initiative are Richton Park and Park Forest, which will share in the $9 million funding allotted for buying, fixing and reselling abandoned foreclosed residential properties.
Richton Park will get $615,000 and Park Forest will receive $500,000 to carry out their programs. Gary Gerdes, building commissioner of Richton Park, said there are around 75 abandoned houses in the area, in addition to about 150 distressed properties.
Ed Paesel, executive director of the mayors association, said communities need to monitor Chicago distressed properties so their owners do not rely on community services to maintain them. Cutting overgrown grass, securing vacant houses and boarding them up needs money, adding to the financial burdens of towns which are already reeling from sharply reduced funding.
The number of distressed properties in Illinois decreased in February, but the number is still high compared to troubled properties in other states. More than 17,312 homes were notified of delinquency and foreclosure in February, with nearly 4,600 already in the real estate owned listings of banks. Illinois still ranked eighth among states based on percentages of foreclosure.
The recently passed state law that requires lenders to notify towns when they start foreclosures is a big help to the mayors. With this state law, communities can gather data and take action immediately before the conditions of the properties deteriorate.
According to the mayors group, the southern suburbs have posted the highest percentages of foreclosures, contributing significantly to the total number of Chicago distressed properties. These suburbs also lack resources in dealing with them, so the joint initiative is a great help to every suburban town in the Chicago area.
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John Cutts has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.