CHICAGO – As communities across the country look for ways to rebuild in the aftermath of foreclosures, a number of them in Illinois are getting a boost from an innovative program that has been recognized for excellence at a national housing conference.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority’s “Illinois Building Blocks” was awarded the top prize in the category of homeownership/home improvement and rehabilitation at the recent National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) annual conference.
The program was singled out as a model for other state housing finance agencies that work to provide innovative solutions to homeownership and housing development.
“With the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s support and investment, we are starting to see a difference in communities that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “As families continue to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, this program is helping them rebuild their lives.”
Under the Building Blocks program, homebuyers in five Chicago area suburbs can qualify for down payment assistance of up to $10,000 to purchase a vacant home. The program also allows developers to purchase homes to rehab and sell them, allowing the homes to be put back into productive use.
“We are honored that the Building Blocks program was recognized by our peers as a model that allows people to achieve homeownership and helps communities rebuild and recover from the impact of foreclosures,” said Mary R. Kenney, Executive Director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). “Governor Pat Quinn created Building Blocks with the goal of providing communities that were hard hit by foreclosures with the tools they need to rebound and move forward as well as give prospective homebuyers the help they need to purchase a home.”
The five communities – Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Maywood, Park Forest and South Holland – have been among the hardest hit in the Chicago area by foreclosures. Other programs are also focused in the communities, including the purchase of distressed mortgages as part of an initiative aimed offering a permanent solution for homeowners to achieve long-term financial stability with their mortgages.
Since the program began, Building Blocks has proven to be a successful model because it allows IHDA and its partners to leverage investments and build on existing efforts with marked progress.
In just six months, more than 500 housing units have been assisted in these communities including:
• 61 buyers have applied for loans under the Building Blocks program with almost $7 million in loan proceeds and over $600,000 in down payment assistance.
• 187 homeowners have been assisted under the Illinois Hardest Hit program, with a commitment of over $4.3 million.
• 126 vacant units have been rehabilitated and put back to productive use through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and other programs.
On average, IHDA has assisted more than 100 housing units in each of the Building Blocks communities with a total commitment of more than $44 million across the various programs.
IHDA also captured two other awards at the conference, one for its Welcome Home Heroes program that offers down payment assistance and mortgages to military personnel and one for management efficiencies that helped improve its oversight and monitoring of multifamily properties.