By Kirsten Srinavasan
November 30, 2008
Months after a $700 million federal bailout package was approved, local
municipal officials say the foreclosure crisis doesn’t seem to be
getting any better.

It’s frustrating watching the news about the bailout for financial
institutions, Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush said.

"Why aren’t they helping the people who lost their homes get them
back with mortgages they can afford?" she said. "How do you solve that?
… It’s the corporations who are being bailed out. I don’t see any
impact in the community down to the local level."

Foreclosures continue to drag down property values for neighbors
and increase costs for municipalities that have to maintain vacant lots
when banks fail to take care of them, she said.

The low point of this nationwide crisis has yet to be determined, Lansing Village President Dan Podgorski said.

"All the information I’ve received on it is that it’s going to
continue to get a little bit worse yet through the end of 2008 and 2009
before the increase in foreclosures starts to taper off," he said.

"You’ll still have foreclosures but the spike in new ones will
start to dip toward the later half of 2009, (according to) projections
I’ve seen in a couple of seminars. I don’t know the crisis has hit rock
bottom. I also think a lot of it has to do with what happens in the
economy, certainly if we continue to see corporate America cutting
jobs. If one or more of the Big 3 automakers goes bankrupt, you could
have a crisis of epic proportions."

South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association Executive Director
Ed Paesel said experts warned about the need to better regulate
subprime lending for years before it became a national problem.

"(The foreclosure crisis) is a very serious issue and one we are
working with our communities and Cook County and other regional
entities to try to come up with the best plan we can to address that
situation," he said.

Federal money won’t go far when it comes to solving the crisis,
considering the thousands of foreclosures in Cook County alone, Paesel

"When you look at the amount of money available, it’s not going to
cure by any means all the foreclosures," he said. "It’s a small start
and one we need to pay attention to, but it’s such a massive problem
the federal government can’t provide the money to cure the problem."

Homeowners in foreclosure need a chance to have their mortgages
restructured and be given the chance to repay their debt over a
reasonable time period, South Holland Village President Don De Graff

Homeowners missing mortgage payments need to reach out to their
lenders and try to find a solution, officials said. They agreed that
easier credit flow from the banks will help with the available home

The federal government helping the banks is a smart move if it
makes it easier for people to get credit to buy homes, De Graff said.

But they’ll have to wait and see if easier credit really means fewer empty homes, Qualkinbush said.

Foreclosures by the numbers

Foreclosure filings this year are outpacing 2007 numbers, according
to foreclosure data for the first half of the year from the Woodstock


Foreclosure filings first half of 2008: 121

Foreclosure filings first half of 2007: 88

Total foreclosure filings 2007: 201

Calumet City

Foreclosure filings first half of 2008: 256

Foreclosure filings first half of 2007: 207

Total filings 2007: 470

South Holland

Foreclosure filings first half of 2008: 170

Foreclosure filings first half of 2007: 128

Total filings 2007: 289

Source: Woodstock Institute

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