While the economy shows signs of steady improvement, many homeowners in the Chicagoland area are still reeling from the 2008 economic crisis. Illinois still ranks in the top 10 with regard to foreclosures per capita, and the Chicago metropolitan area remains one of the hardest hit regions in the United States.
Fortunately, a number of programs are still available to help distressed homeowners. The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) recently launched the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), a program designed to people struggling with their mortgage due to a job loss or a significant loss of income. By offering 10-year forgivable loans for up to $25,000, the program helps struggling homeowners bring their mortgages current. They can also use HHF funds to cure arrearages, penalties, and fines, and make monthly mortgage payments for up to 18 months.
HHF is $445 million program funded through by the U.S. Department of Treasury, and officials hope to help 15,000 unemployed homeowners. It is different (and possibly more helpful) than the Home Affordable Modification Act (HAMP) because it focuses on homeowners who have had such a significant drop in income that they cannot make modified payments. Typical HAMP modifications reduce mortgages payments to 31 percent of a person’s income. If a person is temporarily unemployed, HAMP may not offer the appropriate assistance.
IHDA is also taking steps to stabilize areas troubled by foreclosures (and vacant homes) through its Building Blocks program. Prospective buyers can take advantage of down payment assistance and affordable interest rates as they look for new homes in selected areas (Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Maywood, Park Forest, Riverdale, and South Holland). The program accepts buyers with lower FICO scores and provides pre (and post) purchase counseling.
Ultimately, counseling is an important part in avoiding foreclosure. The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network offers seminars and on-site counseling to help struggling homeowners. Many people have lost their homes through illegal foreclosures because they did not know their rights. If you are facing foreclosure, knowing your rights and options is critical. An experienced foreclosure defense attorney can answer your questions.