Des Plaines seeks grants to help with rising foreclosures

Published: 4/17/2009 12:01 AM

With home foreclosures rising, Des Plaines city officials say they will try for federal housing grants to help address the problem.

Officials said approximately 755 homes with a Des Plaines ZIP code, which includes unincorporated Elk Grove, Wheeling and Maine townships, have been foreclosed. Within city limits, there are 435 homes in some stage of foreclosure, 3rd Ward Alderman Laura Murphy said.

"It is in every single ward in the city of Des Plaines," said Murphy, chair of the city's Community Development Committee. "No area is immune from that."

Cities nationwide are taking advantage of federal stimulus funds, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, that aim to get people back into housing and to prevent empty buildings from becoming eyesores.

Des Plaines, like many suburban communities, is considering applying for Community Development Block Grant funds administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grant money could potentially be used to purchase vacant and foreclosed homes and rehab them for reuse.

"HUD has not established the criteria of what would be done with the money," Murphy said. "Maybe you could give the homeowner a grant to assist with mortgage payments. It's kind of still up in the air."

Getting such grants is highly competitive, especially with cities like Chicago, Cicero and Rockford vying for a piece of the pie, Murphy said.

City officials aim to focus on clusters of foreclosed properties to improve neighborhoods. Areas with a high concentration of foreclosed homes include Holiday Lane, Dover Lane and Pine Court, Murphy said.

The city council will consider applying for federal housing stimulus funds Monday.