Foreclosures still on the rise

Cook County is on pace this year to surpass last year’s record number of foreclosure cases filed, according to statistics from the Cook County Circuit Court clerk’s office. As of Sept. 8, there were 33,003 mortgage foreclosure cases filed in t

Cook County is on pace this year to surpass last year’s record number of foreclosure cases filed, according to statistics from the Cook County Circuit Court clerk’s office.

As of Sept. 8, there were 33,003 mortgage foreclosure cases filed in the county this year, about 5,000 less than the record total for 2007–38,467.

From Jan. 1 to Sept. 8 last year, about 24,800 cases were filed, nearly 3,000 less than from the total for the entire year of 2006–27,287.

Nationwide, more than four million homeowners were at least one payment behind on their mortgages or in foreclosure by June 30, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The sagging economy and faulty loans are among the culprits in the continued surge, said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan’s office has aggressively tackled sub prime lenders and announced in June the conclusion of a nine-month investigation that led to the state filing suit against Countrywide Financial, the country’s largest mortgage financier, for unscrupulous lending practices.

“There was clearly a pattern of unfairness and a pattern of deception,” Madigan said recently.

That deceit hit many predominantly Black neighborhoods last year.

The 34th Ward, which includes the Pullman, West Pullman, Roseland, Washington Heights, Victory Heights and Fernwood/Bellvue communities on the South Side, had the highest number of foreclosed homes in the city for the first six months of 2007.

The ward had 357 foreclosures during that time, according to a study by the National Training and Information Center.

“This is not the first time we’ve been the ward with the highest foreclosures,” said Alderman Carrie Austin (34th), adding that last year was the third time in the last 10 years her ward’s numbers were high.

In the West Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, there were at least 230 foreclosures last year. Too many, said Alderman Toni Foulkes (15th).

Foulkes holds quarterly community resource meetings that include information for residents about avoiding the pitfalls of foreclosure.

A breakdown by the NTIC of foreclosures by each ward for 2008 was not available.

For residents seeking advice and assistance to steer clear from the foreclosure trap, Madigan suggested that homeowners call her office or 311 for the Neighborhood Housing Service, an extension of the city’s Department of Housing.

Kathy Chaney can be reachedat kchaney@chicagodefender.com.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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