One-year moratorium on foreclosures called for in Cook County

With the number of foreclosure notices rising compared to last year, many community activists are asking Cook County elected officials for a solution--and fast.

But will the proposed solution, a one-year moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, actually work?

Community organizations such as the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign and Centro Autonomo of Albany Park last week demanded the one-year moratorium, along with government tours of affected communities and the creation of a task force of community organizers and elected officials.

According to RealtyTrac Inc. numbers from The Post-Tribune, 13,774 homes in Illinois were hit with foreclosure filings this past July. In July 2011, however, only 10,627 homes filed for foreclosure.

In a 2008 investigation, The Chicago Reporter also showed that the victims of small apartment building foreclosures tend to be living in black neighborhoods.

Although the list of Cook County elected officials invited to the Thursday evening summit included all Cook County commissioners and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, only three officials showed up. They were Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and 7th District Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

However, even the elected officials at the summit gave lukewarm responses to the community organizers’ demands.

“When I was invited to this meeting tonight, I wanted to make it clear to the sponsors that I came to listen and that’s what I came to do, I came to listen,” Preckwinkle said when asked if she could support any attempts to get a moratorium passed as a Cook County ordinance.

“So unfortunately I can’t make the commitment that you’re requesting. I came to listen, to try to figure out what the issues were, and try to figure out how we can respond.”

Still, Chicago’s homeowners and tenants are in need of a clear answer. For example, meet Vicente Gutierrez, who was forced to stop making mortgage payments on his house in Albany Park because of debilitating health problems.

His requests for loan modifications to his mortgage have all been rejected. Watch the video clip of Gutierrez below, with Centro Autonomo’s Roberto Delariva acting as interpreter.

--By Safiya Merchant

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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