A pot of money held in limbo at the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court could help ease the pain of some homeowners affected by the housing bust.
The money in question -- about $16 million -- are surplus funds, created after a homeowner was foreclosed upon and their home re-sold. If the foreclosed homeowner owed less on the mortgage than the final sale price of the subsequent sale, those funds go back to the first owner.
"We have an individual that’s due 13 cents. We have someone that’s due $400,000 dollars," said Dorothy Brown, the clerk of the court.
Illinois law requires these surpluses to be deposited to the clerk of the court, where it then continues to sit, collecting interest until the original homeowner claims it.
The problem? Finding those people. Many don’t realize the funds are due them, and many who’ve been through foreclosure don’t often leave a forwarding address.
"It’s hard to find them because many times when people lose their properties to mortgage foreclosure they have also have a lot of credit card debt and a lot other kinds of debts, and they’re probably actually running from those creditors," said Brown. "As a result when they leave their property, they don’t leave a forwarding address."
In an attempt to shorten a lengthy list of names and a piggy bank of surplus money, Brown's office has created a searchable section on its website to help locate the funds' owners.
Those who think they may have money in the fund can visit www.CookCountyClerkofCourt.org and enter their last name, first initial, and phone number
"I just felt it was something we should do for the people," said Brown.
For those experiencing the foreclosure process right now, the clerk advised homeowners to stay in contact with her office. The clerk's office can help monitor the sale of the homes and alert the homeowner if they're owed a surplus.