April 7, 2009
 
Federal stimulus money to fight foreclosures is coming to Lake County,
but results aren’t expected to be widespread or immediate.

Federal officials are scheduled to meet today with Lake County
Board members and others for the ceremonial transfer of $4.6 million to
buy and rehab foreclosed homes and other properties.

The money is part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, approved by Congress last July.

How and where those funds will be distributed specifically is being
determined, and the first results aren’t expected for about six months.

Nearly a third of the money, or about $1.7 million, will be
targeted to five communities with the highest number of foreclosures:
Waukegan, Round Lake Beach, Zion, Mundelein and North Chicago.

Those communities had 732, 355, 292, 175 and 170 foreclosures
respectively in 2008, according to the Woodstock Institute, a
Chicago-based advocacy group.

Local officials acknowledge $4.6 million won’t buy many homes, and
the impact will be small compared to the total number of foreclosed
properties.

"It probably will only affect, at first blush, about 18 homes,"
said Phil Rovang, the county’s director of planning, building and
development.

The goal is to acquire, rehab and resell properties, he said.

"When we get the money back (from a sale), we will plow that money into another for foreclosed property."

The initial funding has to be obligated in 18 months, although it is a 5-year program.

Individual communities likely won’t notice much difference as the program ramps up.

"It becomes like any other loan process where the qualified party
buys the house in foreclosure," said Mike Flynn, assistant village
administrator in Mundelein. "There are houses being sold all the time.
We don’t look for what the purpose is."

Whatever the source of funding, Flynn said, the village will be happy with the result.

In Round Lake Beach, the program will augment the village’s successful home acquisition rehabilitation program.

The village, through a low-interest line of credit, has just purchased its 13th home and will be seeking bids for rehab.

"We do locally what the county is going to do through the Lake
County Affordable Housing Commission," said Village Administrator David
Kilbane.

Rovang said one consideration is to "turn the tide" in some neighborhoods to be determined.

"This program is so important to us, we will have one employee assigned to it full time," he said.

The exact number of foreclosed properties is difficult to
ascertain, Rovang said, but is important to know because there are
impacts on various entities, such as school districts.

"We’re going to be asking this new staff person to figure out a way," he said.

 
 
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