Joliet Wants Fed Money to buy Foreclosures

City applies for $3.5 million in federal grant

Southwest suburban Joliet is eligible for $3.5 million in federal money for buying foreclosed and empty homes.

The program won't help homeowners currently facing foreclosure, but it could stabilize some Joliet neighborhoods, city officials said.

Residents of Joliet say they'd be happy to have the city buy the distressed homes in their neighborhoods, especially if it would mean a boost in their property values.

The money could also get some troubled properties off the books of banks that hold the mortgages.

"I think we'll be dealing with banks, not families," City Manager Thomas Thanas said Monday as he described the program to the city council. Those banks likely won't be local, he said.

The city plans to meet a Dec. 1 deadline for applying for the funds. 

Alfredo Melessio, director of neighborhood services for the city, said the program would work like other programs that the city has used to find buyers for distressed properties.Homes must be vacant for at least 90 days before the city can buy them, he said.

"It's not a foreclosure prevention program," Melessio said. "This is just to address vacant, foreclosed homes."

He said the money could be used to find new owners for between 10 and 20 homes in a targeted area.

The program is funded through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act that was passed in July and is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Melessio said Will County is eligible for the funding, although Joliet is the only eligible municipality in the county. Aurora, Elgin and other smaller cities also are eligible, he said.


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