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Cook County Land Bank Authority Receives Community Stabilization Funds

Deborah Bayliss | 5/21/2014, 3:47 p.m.
If the uptick in Cook County foreclosure rates continue, an additional 7,200 foreclosed properties including nearly 3,200 in the City ...
"The purpose (of the Cook County Land Bank Authority) is to facilitate what people in the community are trying to do and we try to build off assets that are already in the community. Our goal is to reform and make more meaningful and friendly, the process towards development."--Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th Dist.).

If the uptick in Cook County foreclosure rates continue, an additional 7,200 foreclosed properties including nearly 3,200 in the City of Chicago, will be added to area blight next year, according to the Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization that deals with lending, wealth creation, and financial systems reform.

As of the 2010 census, Cook County had an estimated 214,000 vacant housing units. The Cook County Land Bank Authority is collecting information to determine how many vacant parcels there are in Cook County, according to Karen Vaughan, a spokesperson with Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle’s office.

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn, on May 1, announced $7.2 million in Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Abandoned Property Program funds for communities across Illinois that includes $4.1 million for Cook county communities, an effort that will hopefully will help return properties that are vacant due to foreclosure, back to use.

Funds for the Abandoned Property Program, were allocated when banks and other lending institutions began paying fees on a sliding scale based on the number of foreclosures they file each year. For instance, an institution that files more than 175 foreclosures must pay $500 per foreclosure, while one with between 50 and 175 must pay $250 per foreclosure, and those with less than 50 foreclosures a year must pay $50 per filing.

“We are starting programs to reinvigorate our economy and strengthen communities in the wake of the national foreclosure crisis,” Gov. Quinn said. “This support will give local governments the tools they need to stabilize communities throughout Illinois.” 

Created as a way to deal with neighborhood blight and to facilitate economic growth, the Cook County Land Bank (CCLB), which recently hired its executive director, Brian White, was among 53 municipalities, counties and land banks approved for the first round of funding that was given based on need, capacity, impact, budget, cost reasonableness and readiness to proceed.

The Land Bank will acquire, hold, and transfer interest in properties throughout Cook County as approved by its Board of Directors.

Both the CCLB and the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development received $250,000 in awards under IHDA’s Abandoned Property Program.

The Land Bank funds will primarily be used for abandoned property demolition, maintenance and to acquire properties it plans to sell.

“We already have some properties in the pipeline that are ready for purchase,” Cook County Commissioner, Bridget Gainer told The Chicago Citizen Newspaper. “We’re also looking at projects around Roseland Community Hospital (45 W 111th St.) and with the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). We work with organizations, community groups... Our purpose is to facilitate what people in the community are trying to do and we try to build off assets that are already in the community. Our goal is to reform and make more meaningful and friendly, the process towards development and services such as clearing titles, which right now in court, is a 600-day process. We’re working with retired judges to streamline that process.”

Whether or not a property is demolished, depends on its condition according to Gainer who wrote and spear-headed passage of the Cook Land Bank ordinance and currently serves as its chair.

Approved uses for the grants include weed and grass maintenance, tree and bush trimming, fence installation, and for repair or demolition of abandoned properties.

Other Cook County communities and institutions receiving Abandoned Property Program funds include:

· Berwyn, $75,000 · Blue Island, $75,000 · Calumet Park, $75,000 · Chicago Heights, $75,000 · Cicero, $250,000 · East Hazel Crest, $75,000 · Harvey, $250,000 · Justice, $60,000 · Robbins, $75,000 · South Chicago Heights, $67,000 · South Holland, $75,000 · South Suburban Land

Bank and Development

Authority, $289,800

The Cook County Land Bank Authority posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for qualified proposers to deliver a Property Inventory Tracking System, which will be used by CCLBA to manage information, administer process flows, and oversight of all real estate, which CCLBA may acquire, hold, and/or convey. The Request for Proposal can be found at www.cookcountylandbank.org or call 312-603-4210.

Completed proposals are due by Thursday, May 22 2014, 2:30 p.m. central standard time and should be submitted electronically to Proposal@CookCountyLandBank.org.