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Details Expected on Foreclosure Plan

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While they continue their work helping families facing foreclosure, housing counselors are awaiting more details about the Obama administration’s new foreclosure prevention program.

“People are definitely asking how the new housing policy will effect them,” said Andre Gaither, director of the South Chicago office of Neighborhood Housing Services [2]. “At this point the information we have is sketchy.” More details about the plan will be released March 4.

But anyone facing trouble with their mortgage will benefit from seeing a certified housing counselor, who can negotiate with a lender to make sure a mortgage workout is affordable, he said.

Studies have shown that most homeowners facing foreclosure seek no help at all; many of the rest deal directly with their mortgage servicers, often ending up with resolutions that actually increase monthly payments.

“They really need to come to us,” said Gaither. “We’re working for them.”

The prospect of foreclosure often has serious psychological impacts, said Angela Hurlock, executive director of Claretian Associates [3], which houses the South Chicago NHS office. “There’s shame, guilt, fear,” she said. “People don’t want to talk about it.

“We want to break that down and give people information about assistance that can be trusted.”

As a faith-based affordable housing developer with a long history, Claretian Associates has established a high level a trust in the neighborhood. As lead agency of LISC’s New Communities Program in South Chicago [4], the group has hired a housing preservation coordinator, and she is making contact with block clubs, churches, schools and preschools with information about free counseling services available at NHS and at the Spanish Coalition, another housing counseling agency in the area.

South Chicago has seen “steadily increasing” foreclosures, and many blocks have multiple properties that have been foreclosed on, Hurlock said. It’s a problem for the entire neighborhood, she said; for one thing, foreclosures effect the property values of all homeowners in the area.

Claretian Associates is holding a foreclosure summit tomorrow (Saturday, February 28) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st, with 11th Ward Alderman John Pope and counselors from NHS and Spanish Coalition. One goal is to educate residents about foreclosures rescue scams that can cheat them out of their homes.

In two weeks the group is holding a workshop for small contractors and landlords in the area about the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a federal effort to reclaim homes make vacant by foreclosure.

Their also working on a youth-oriented program, Hurlock said. She said the psychological impacts on young people when their families face the prospect of losing their home can be dramatic.

NHS holds a weekly foreclosure prevention workshop every Monday at 6 p.m. at Via Guadalupe Senior Center, 3201 E. 91st. It’s open to all residents of the 60617 zip code, though homeowners are asked to register in advance if they can.