by Dwayne T. Ervin
Dorothy Brown, clerk of Circuit Court of Cook County, Denise Dixon, executive director of Action Now and a group of other elected officials want banks that received federal bail out money to start modifying more loans to prevent foreclosures.
Brown sent letters to President Barack Obama, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and U. S. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid for help to end the foreclosure crisis in Cook County.
With a spike of files in the Cook County Courthouse, banks that received federal funding are steadily pushing homeowners into foreclosure as opposed to modifying loans, officials said.
Cook County endured a record 43,726 foreclosure case filings in 2008, which is a 338 percent increase over ten years. There were 4,672 mortgage foreclosures filed in February 2009, and 1,114 cases filed the first week of March 2009.
Brown is urging Governor Pat Quinn to sign Senate Bill 2513, which allows troubled homeowners to obtain a “substantial workout plan,” while prohibiting legal action against them.
“Foreclosures up to January 20 were 171,” Brown said. “The day after Obama’s inauguration, the numbers were 214,” she added. After March 4, foreclosures continued to rise, she stated.
“Banks are selling foreclosed homes to other people,” Brown continued. “Banks are issuing more loans. Banks are not issuing more modified loans. In order for the president to get a clear picture, we have to tell him what is going on,” Brown said. The staggering number of foreclosures represents families and not just numbers, said Dixon. “Those people are being turned to the streets.
They have come to the end of the rope and don’t know what to do, so they call us.” All levels of government need to work together to get banks to modify loans instead of foreclosing on homes, she said.
“We are in a state of emergency,” Dixon continued. “If ever there has been a natural disaster in Illinois, this is it. We are looking for federal legislation to come from President Obama.
“When we get homeowners to come to us for help, we have to play the role as intervener. We talk to the lender to get a modification for those loans. Sometimes we have to sit in offices for days. It is a very slow process, doing one house at a time,” she stated.
“With the crisis…we know that there has to be some legislation passed in order to put an end to it. That is why we support the Philadelphia plan that says the borrower and the lender have to come together to talk about the loan before the house can be foreclosed on. It can be done with chief county judge [Timothy C.]
Evans signing an executive order that says that is what his judges should do. We are in support of the moratorium [on foreclosures] coming from Obama,” she stated.
“Some of the loans have been chopped up into so many parts that we do not know who has the loan,” she said. “We worked with ShoreBank on getting people loans…having them buy the loans for people in trouble. They are small banks and cannot do all of this. The larger banks [that] have received bail out loans, need to step up to the plate and make sure that they are not putting people out of their homes,” she added.