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Cook County launches foreclosure assistance program
By Barbara Vitello | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/21/2010 12:01 AM

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Cook County homeowners facing foreclosure have another resource to assist them in the county's Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program.

Established Tuesday by order of Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, the program offers free legal services and housing counseling for residents who have received a foreclosure summons from the court and live in the building in foreclosure.

"The program's goal is to deliver critical services to homeowners as early as possible once the foreclosure process begins," said Evans in a prepared statement.

The program comes in response to the recession and the related mortgage crisis. Records show Cook County foreclosure filings in the circuit court's chancery division increased from 12,705 in 2000 to more than 47,000 last year, with the greatest spike - more than 11,000 foreclosures - occurring between 2007 and 2008. It's estimated that between 48,000 and 52,000 foreclosure cases will be filed this year.

The Cook County Board approved $3.5 million to fund the program, which is a collaborative effort involving the Circuit Court's Chancery Division, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, the Chicago Bar Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust. Attorneys and mediators from the Center for Conflict Resolution, the Chicago Legal Clinic and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services will provide free legal services.

Homeowners who've received a summons can call (877) 895-2444 or (312) 836-5222 (TDD) to schedule a meeting with a housing counselor at the Richard J. Daley Center, 69 W. Washington St., Chicago. Homeowners concerned about their mortgage but not currently in foreclosure can check CookcountyForeclosureHelp.org for a list of resources.