Cook County Land Bank Authority Marks 200th Home Rehab Milestone in Communities Hit by Foreclosure Crisis

November 20, 2017

Public-Private Partnership is stabilizing communities, building community-based businesses and jobs and boosting homeownership across Chicago south and west sides, County suburbs

CHICAGO, IL – Today the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA) celebrated a landmark rehab of 200 once vacant, tax-delinquent properties left in the wake of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis that are now back on the tax rolls and making communities whole again, block by block. 

These homes were acquired with funds allocated by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office after a 2012 national foreclosure settlement with the five largest U.S. mortgage servicers, the federal government and 49 state attorneys general. Attorney General Madigan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, CCLBA Chairwoman and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer and CCLBA Executive Director Rob Rose celebrated this milestone at the 200th rehabbed home, located in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. 

“It’s hard to imagine a better way to help mend the damage that the mortgage crisis caused across our county,” said Rose. “The Land Bank has been able to offer 200 families not just beautiful new homes, but also the chance to build equity and gain a sense of stability, security and community.”

The CCLBA has helped community-based developers acquire then transform each of the 200 vacant, delinquent and/or abandoned properties into safe, affordable and livable homes, revitalizing neighborhoods and facilitating homeownership in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.

“In some Chicago neighborhoods, one out of every five homes per block remained vacant for years after the subprime mortgage crisis,” said Commissioner Gainer. “It’s heartening to see how the Land Bank has set in motion sustainable growth. Their work continues to remove barriers for those looking to invest in and transform their communities from within.”

To facilitate the rehab of this particular home in Chicago Lawn, the Land Bank selected community-based developer Bridgette Washington.

“Rebuilding communities requires effort and buy-in from a variety of partners – government, the financial sector and the communities themselves,” said Cook County Board President Preckwinkle. “The Land Bank is a good example of how we can all collaborate for the betterment of our residents, and I am proud of the role Cook County is playing in this process.”

In July 2013, Attorney General Madigan’s office allocated $70 million across 54 nonprofit organizations and agencies that had submitted plans to reduce community blight caused by the subprime mortgage crisis. These funds came from Illinois’ portion of the $25 billion national settlement negotiated in February 2012 by federal authorities, state attorneys general and five of the nation’s largest mortgage servicing banks.

The $4.5 million allocated to the CCLBA from that settlement – the largest single award of the $70 million allotment – funded the Land Bank’s acquisition of 600+ homes – of which 200 have been rehabbed. The five lenders involved in the foreclosure settlement were Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly known as GMAC.

“In reaching this important milestone, the Cook County Land Bank is fulfilling its mission to not just rehab homes, but to rebuild lives, security and a sense of community,” said Attorney General Madigan. “The Cook County Land Bank has done an exceptional job bringing together a diverse group of advocates to stimulate redevelopment while supporting and stabilizing neighborhoods hit hardest by the mortgage crisis. I am honored to be an integral part of this outstanding project.”

A recent study by Harvard University reports the gap between African-American and White homeowners in Chicago has grown to near historic levels since the real estate crash of the late 1990s, with 38 percent of African-Americans owning homes in Chicago versus 78 percent of Whites, as of 2015.

The CCLBA acquired this home from the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST), a method that reduced the amount of time the property sat vacant. Working with NCST also facilitates faster rehab processes. The agencies work together to achieve shared goals, such as: putting vacant and abandoned properties back to productive use; reducing neighborhood blight; and increasing homeownership opportunities for low-income and moderate-income families.

To date, CCLBA has sold over 400 homes to community-based developers for rehab. Projections show the Land Bank will have facilitated over $18 million in new home value in this market, homes that will then generate equity for families for years to come. The CCLBA’s earned income from FY2016 to FY2017, the second year the Land Bank has fostered these home rehabs, is projected to have increased approximately 125 percent.

About the Cook County Land Bank Authority

Founded in 2013, CCLBA works to empower local developers, community groups and potential homeowners by giving them tools to transform their own communities from within. The CCLBA obtains tax delinquent properties for rehab and sells them at below market rates to qualified, community-based developers to lead the rehab work. This not only keeps revenue and jobs in the community, but also helps local developers grow their businesses.

Developers sell these affordable homes to homebuyers, putting once vacant properties back onto the tax rolls.

The Land Bank was founded by Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer to address communities hit hard by the mortgage crisis. This brought together a large contingency of community, policy and advocacy groups to build its mission and goals: promote redevelopment and reuse of vacant, abandoned, foreclosed or tax-delinquent properties; support targeted efforts to stabilize neighborhoods; stimulate residential, commercial and industrial development – all in ways that are consistent with goals and priorities established by local government partners and their community stakeholders.