By Rebecca Van Horn, Community Initiatives Organizer, JCUA
A chorus of amens filled a Rogers Park (Chicago) church this spring as speakers called for action to deal with the high rate of residential foreclosure.
On a Sunday in April (2010), more than 300 people filled Rogers Park Presbyterian Church, eager to learn how to reduce the impact of foreclosures that are affecting the Chicago area.
The public meeting was hosted by Lakeside CDC (Community Development Corporation) and Northside P.O.W.E.R. (People Organized to Work, Educate, and Restore)—one of JCUA’s partner organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to garner support for the new Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention program and the 49th Ward Rental Improvement Fund.
Throughout the meeting, individuals were heard amen-ing the need for action.
West Rogers Park has undergone the highest rate of foreclosures in Chicago; nearby Rogers Park has the fourth highest rate in the city.
Pam Reidy of Glencoe, state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin all spoke in favor of a mortgage foreclosure prevention program. Reidy plays an active role in the Mortgage Foreclosure Convening of which Northside P.O.W.E.R. and JCUA are a part.
They support collecting a $1,000 fee from the proceeds of foreclosure sales to be used to pay for programs to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and authorizing local governments to enact vacant property ordinances to hold owners, trustees and mortgage-holders responsible for maintaining and securing vacant properties.
Rogers Park has also been acutely affected by condo conversions and increasing rental prices as well, which has forced families to leave the area and has begun to threaten preservation of the neighborhood’s diversity.
Northside P.O.W.E.R. and Lakeside CDC presented their innovative program that is designed to give grants to landlords from a 49th Ward TIF (Tax Increment Financing) in exchange for keeping rents affordable. Ald. Joe Moore (49th) was recognized as supporting the program, and a representative from the MacArthur Foundation agreed to review a proposal to fund the first round of the TIF eligibility study, a requirement of the city.
By coming together in song, speech and solidarity, the Rogers Park and northshore communities showed that they were ready and willing to take action in support of mortgage foreclosure prevention and the preservation of affordable rental housing in Chicagoland.