The President and I both know that we must focus on continuing to move our recovery forward, and housing is key to our continued economic growth. In Illinois, we’ve led a coordinated effort by many of our state agencies to support homeowners and aspiring homeowners. On Wednesday, in my State of the State address, I proposed a number of additional housing initiatives to promote affordable housing and help families facing foreclosure. Government cannot fix the housing crisis on its own, but we can help families access affordable housing and give them resources to avoid foreclosure.


For instance, we can make it a little easier for homeowners that receive a foreclosure notice. Earlier this week I announced the formation of the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN). The IFPN is a web and hotline hub for all state and federal resources available to struggling homeowners – a one-stop-shop for counseling, legal assistance, mortgage relief and other tools to help families keep their homes.


But we also need to develop new, affordable housing to help families starting out or starting over. I share President Obama’s goal of transitioning foreclosed properties into rental housing. This will create jobs, improve home prices, lower crime and stabilize neighborhoods. And today, we are announcing a new major housing initiative that will help return vacant properties to good use in Cook County.


The President is right: we can’t wait. These initiatives—outlined by the President in Falls Church, Va., and that I proposed in Springfield, Ill.—can and will make a meaningful difference to struggling homeowners and keep families where they belong—at home.


The housing crisis has impacted us all—our families, our communities, and our economies—and, working together, we’ll help stabilize our housing market and keep our recovery going strong.


Throughout January and February, Woodstock Institute is participating in a series on vacant properties in metropolitan Chicago hosted by the Metropolitan Planning Council. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature guests posts from elected and appointed officials, policy advocates, finance experts, and others about the many ways we are all working together to get a handle on this growing regional and national challenge.