By David Roeder

October 21, 2010

The plague of foreclosures, which started in the lowest income communities, is moving up the demographic scale in the Chicago area.

A report by the Woodstock Institute shows that so far in 2010, new foreclosures are increasing fastest in formerly trendy neighborhoods in and near downtown. The numbers also are rising more quickly in the suburbs and the collar counties than in the city itself.

Woodstock found that city neighborhoods with the greatest increases in foreclosures were the Loop, 76.7 percent; the Near South Side, 70.1 percent; and the Near West Side, 63.7 percent. The results are for the first nine months of 2010, compared with the same period last year.

While foreclosures throughout Chicago were up 14 percent for the period, the gains were 49.7 percent in northwest Cook County, 49.2 percent in McHenry County and 44.4 percent in southwest Cook County.

Woodstock Senior Vice President Geoff Smith said a furor over documentation of foreclosures may cause more homes to remain vacant for longer periods, contributing to neighborhood decline. Some banks have declared moratoriums on new foreclosures and have chosen not to sell or list vacant properties they already own while they review procedures.

The report said completed foreclosure auctions rose 44.9 percent in the six-county Chicago area through the third quarter of 2010, compared with the same period of 2009. It also said 95 percent of those properties were acquired by the lender in Illinois’ court-run auction process.

“The addition of 25,614 lender-owned properties to the region’s vacant property inventory poses a significant challenge to municipalities, as vacant properties decrease tax rolls while raising maintenance costs,” Smith said.

He also said that while foreclosure filings are declining or leveling off in minority areas, they remain hard hit by the housing crisis. “Communities of color were hit early in the crisis. They continue to experience high levels of foreclosure activity and have large concentrations of vacant properties that take longer to return to productive use than do vacant home in predominantly white neighborhoods,” Smith said.

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