The Daily Northwestern

City funds foreclosure counseling

Dan Hill

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As foreclosures increase, the City of Evanston and local organizations are seeking effective means of keeping people in their homes.

The Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit research and policy organization, recently reported 399 foreclosure filings in Evanston for the year 2010, triple the number for 2006. The figure represents a 19 percent increase from the previous year, 2009.

The Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, a Winnetka-based nonprofit organization focusing on foreclosures, resolved 15 of the 39 cases it investigated in the past year. Interfaith provides one-on-one counseling and resolves cases by securing loan modifications for clients.

“The key words are foreclosure prevention,” said Jasmine Brewer, the director of housing counseling for the center. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they get to keep their home.”

The Evanston City Council approved a $25,000 grant to the center at its meeting Monday night. Interfaith is a member of the city’s Foreclosure Prevention Program and receives 15 percent of its budget from Evanston’s Affordable Housing Fund, according to the organization’s grant application.

Evanston residents can seek free foreclosure counseling through appointments with the center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. However, Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said she has struggled with attendance at foreclosure workshops and meetings.

“People are really reluctant,” she said. “We have to continue to educate folk that there is help if they ask early enough.”

Brewer said the city and local organizations must work together to earn the trust of residents, particularly when lending scams face those risking foreclosure.

“There’s only so much that an agency can do,” she said. “The homeowner has to take some necessary steps in order for us to assist them.”

danhill@u.northwestern.edu

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