Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program Initiated

The Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program is a new pilot program in six Cook County communities to help return vacant and foreclosed properties to productive use, provide affordable home ownership opportunities to working families, and help existing homeowners access foreclosure prevention resources.  The program is a coordinated effort to help stabilize neighborhoods, protect property values and maintain the existing local tax base in Berwyn, Maywood, Park Forest, Riverdale, Chicago Heights and South Holland.

Key Components

Building Blocks addresses the foreclosure crisis in the pilot areas in three ways

1. Financing to rehabilitate vacant properties. A new revolving loan fund, with $40 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funds and $10 million from Cook County, will facilitate the acquisition and rehabilitation of vacant properties within the targeted areas.

2. Assistance for homebuyers. Significant financial assistance will be made available for purchasing vacant properties as a primary residence in the targeted areas. To qualify, the vacant property does not need to be one of those rehabbed in the program. The State of Illinois will provide: 

  • Grants of $10,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance for up to 500 homebuyers purchasing vacant properties
  • Affordable first position mortgages to qualified buyers to make the cost of purchasing vacant homes in the communities as affordable as possible
  •  A lowered FICO score threshold that will allow a greater number of potential homebuyers to qualify

3. Support for existing homeowners. Foreclosure counseling, loan modification programs and other resources targeted throughout the pilot communities to current homeowners to help families avoid foreclosure and keep their homes. Targeted outreach and events will connect these communities to:

  • Qualified, HUD-certified housing counselors, free of charge
  • Financial assistance from the Illinois Hardest Hit program, which provides up to $25,000 in mortgage assistance to qualified homeowners having trouble making mortgage payments due to unemployment or under-employment.
  • Legal clinics that offer foreclosure prevention services free of charge

Financing the creation and preservation of affordable housing

  • Targeted foreclosure mitigation events with one-on-one counseling, and access to loan servicers who can discuss loan modifications and work-out agreements on the spot.
  •  Additional information on refinancing options, loan modification options, federal and state resources, including HARP, HAMP and other programs.
  •  Advice on how to avoid mortgage fraud, job search opportunities, financial planning and other counseling services.

 The Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program will also leverage existing efforts already underway in many of these communities, particularly federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) development. Under Governor Quinn, Illinois has committed $58 million in NSP funding to restore nearly 450 foreclosed or vacant housing units in Illinois, creating an estimated 580 jobs.

In addition to federal NSP development, Building Blocks leverages local efforts, ongoing Cook County funding, and regional strategic planning in a comprehensive coordinated approach.

  • 200 jobs
  • $13.2 million in local business income and wages
  • $1.4 million in local taxes
  • $8.3 million in income for local businesses generated from real estate-related industries, including construction
  • $2.6 million in additional local expenditures to boost local businesses, such as purchase of furniture, appliances and other home items

Information is courtesy of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.


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