As many as 11,700 residential properties in Cook County, including 5,800 in Chicago, have been in foreclosure for at least three years without resolution, new data show, a situation that could further deteriorate already scarred communities.
Many of those properties that seem to get stuck — or abandoned — in the foreclosure process are in lower-income areas where annual household income is $49,000 or less, according to a study by Woodstock Institute.
Some of the at-risk houses, condos and apartment buildings are vacant, and the lenders have likely abandoned the foreclosure cases. Some continue to be inhabited while in foreclosure. Others are still in foreclosure while lenders consider short sales.
"You're stuck in this situation where nobody really has a long-term interest in the property," said Spencer Cowan, a vice president at the Chicago-based public policy and research group and one of the report's authors. "The titleholder knows it may be taken at any time. The servicer doesn't own it and may never own it. They may release the lien or just let it sit."
Mortgage servicers filed foreclosure cases against about 217,035 houses, condos and apartment buildings in Cook County between 2008 and 2012, according to Woodstock. Its research, though, looked only at the roughly 134,000 cases filed between 2008 and 2010 because of the long time it typically takes to process a foreclosure case through the county's court system.