Representatives of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® were on hand Friday in Berwyn as Gov. Pat Quinn announced a pilot program targeting vacant and foreclosed properties in six Cook County communities.
Called the Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program, the effort provides $40 million in Illinois Jobs Now capital funding and an additional $10 million in aid from Cook County. The money will be used to help acquire and rehabilitate property in Berwyn, Maywood, Park Forest, Riverdale, Chicago Heights and South Holland.
Quinn also announced an effort to provide grants and other assistance for those buying vacant properties and rehabilitating them to residential use. A third part of the plan would help existing homeowners stay out of foreclosure.
On Wednesday, Quinn announced in his State of the State speech to the Illinois General Assembly that he wanted to focus on housing issues. Shortly after the speech, his office provided details on a hotline that was being set up to assist homeowners facing foreclosure.
The Illinois Association of REALTORS® leadership and lobbyists have been in conversations with Quinn’s office since last summer about strategies to deal with the problem of foreclosures and vacant and distressed property. On hand for the announcement Friday was Loretta Alonzo, CRB, GRI, president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and Broker-Owner of Century 21 Alonzo & Associates in La Grange Park.
Quinn plans to hold a housing conference to examine strategies for addressing the state’s foreclosure problem March 26 in Springfield in conjunction with the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.
“Anything the state can do to help keep families in homes and keep vacant and distressed property on the tax rolls is a positive step forward, Alonzo said. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Gov. Quinn on how to address the state’s foreclosure problem next month at the housing conference in Springfield.”
Foreclosures are a challenge for Illinois, where there are more than 110,000 cases. Many of those court actions are backlogged in the legal system, and that’s having a dampening effect on median home prices, said Dr. Geoffrey Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, in a report late last month for the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.