Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan kicked off the Community Investment Awards by describing the important impact the robo-signing settlement will have on Illinois. Not only will the settlement provide a significant number of loan modifications that will help families restore equity in their homes, but it will also improve how mortgage servicers work with borrowers and housing counselors who are trying to prevent foreclosure. General Madigan assured the audience that all of Illinois’ funds would be used for direct services, research, and other ways to help struggling homeowners and communities deal with the foreclosure and housing crisis, not to plug budget holes or for other unrelated purposes.


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All of the 2012 Community Investment Award recipients contributed to the Chicago region’s response to the problem of blighted vacant homes that can pose a danger to their communities—and the region as a whole. Adam Gross of BPI spoke about how the importance of preserving and nurturing community drives his work fighting for better standards for vacant properties. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer talked about the need to return vacant homes back to productive use so that people throughout the region can have safe, stable neighborhoods. Mary Ellen Podmolik of the Chicago Tribune discussed how the foreclosure crisis transformed her job from covering real estate trends and transactions to documenting the issues faced by homeowners in default and the impact of foreclosures on the entire region.


What events precipitated the housing crisis? How did so many people fall prey to the delusion that home values would perpetually rise? David Sington’s powerful documentary The Flaw demonstrated how how the invisible hand of the market won’t automatically correct the psychology that leads to bubbles, resulting in an untenable economic system built on a shaky foundation of debt.


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