Thursday, March 14, 2013 09:46 am
Springfield continues to struggle with abandoned houses, despite efforts by the city and several nonprofit groups to tear down the worst ones. So it’s welcome news that last month, Gov. Pat Quinn approved a law that speeds up foreclosures without running roughshod over struggling homeowners. Allowing for expedited foreclosures means a home can be back on the market sooner, and it takes up fewer resources for courts and municipalities. Meanwhile, homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments can get free counseling to refinance or figure out how to get out of an underwater mortgage. (An underwater mortgage is one in which the borrower owes more than their house is currently worth.) To deal with blight, the law provides grants to cities and counties to do maintenance on abandoned properties, including cutting down weeds, removing garbage, boarding up dangerous buildings and more. The money to pay for all of this comes from fees paid by lenders who want to foreclose. The best part is that the law specifically forbids the state from robbing this fund for other purposes. The law takes effect on June 1.