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Could foreclosed homes be a haven for homeless families?

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Pam Weinert

Home foreclosures in Denver

Today the US congress may pass the bill which will extend the $8,000 tax credit for first time buyers.
This, in my opinion, is a very good move by our elected officials, as the tax credit has fueled the recent upsurge in home sales in Illinois. In September 2009, for the first time since 2006 we've seen a 3.3% increase in the number of homes sold in Illinois.

As we all know by now, as the real estate industry goes so goes the rest of the economy. It's not just about houses but about bricks, mortar, carpet, furniture, drywall, insulation, appliances and home accessories. Well, you get the picture. So consider the people who work for the companies who made the bricks, laid the carpet, installed the drywall who are now out of a job and can't find one. Where are they going to work, and where are they going to live?

The Chicago Tribune ran two stories today about homeless students in suburban Chicago counties - Homeless Students: Increasingly, families taking shelter wherever they can and Homeless Students: 'We have everything we need.' . Every county in suburban Chicago has posted an increase in the last year in the number of homeless families. One school system posted a staggering 125% increase in the number of homeless students attending their schools.

The stories in the Tribune highlighted two separate families. One family was living in a storage unit and using local fast food restaurants as a place to go to the bathroom and clean up. The other family's principle residence is their camper parked in a local campground. What's next? Hobo communities like during the great depression, or tent cities, or how about the charming box cities like the ones in Rio or Mumbai?

Not-for-profits are hurting because of the recession. Homeless shelters like PADS which is run by local churches and house people during winter months only, cannot keep up with the demand for housing. There are not enough beds for homeless families. Many shelters cater to woman and children only. These shelters are not normally equipped to house families.

WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
There have been some great ideas to help the homeless. A coalition of south suburban mayors proposed building a shelter for the homeless in one of their communities. The shelter was to be financed by Communities voluntarily donating just $1.00 of their water bills to go toward the construction of the shelter. The shelter was not built because there was no land available, but hopefully will be built soon on some property donated by the village of country club hills. About $500,000 has been raised but much more money is needed and the actual start of construction is years down the road. We need more of these innovative plans.

I got to thinking about all the foreclosed and boarded up homes in our country. Some of these homes sit for years before they sell. Why not house the homeless in these foreclosed homes temporarily and have them take care of the properties in lieu of paying rent?

Banks take back these foreclosed homes, then have to manage and care for the home until they're sold. This is a huge drain on the banks. Foreclosed homes usually sell for a fraction of their original worth and are in a terrible state of disrepair. When you see a foreclosed home they're usually rundown with foot high grass growing in the yard. So why not house the homeless in these homes and pay them to maintain the property? It could be a win for both the banks and the homeless. What do you think?

Be sure to read the Tribune articles on line today (the links are below.) Don't overlook the comments; some of them are mind-boggling in their judgments. So rather than judging your neighbor for their misfortune, why not come up with an idea that could help the homeless out there. I welcome any and all comments right here, and remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Pam, The Real Estate Mom

-Homeless students: 'We have everything we need' - Chicago Tribune
 
-Homeless students: Increasingly, families taking shelter anywhere they can - Chicago Tribune

-Foreclosed Properties: Homes for the homeless? - Change.org
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