The foreclosure crisis is one of the nation’s most pressing housing issues, and Illinois continues to have one of the highest rates of foreclosure fillings. The crisis has been particularly hard on immigrants, people of color, and lower-income families who became north suburban homeowners in the last two decades. Podemos Ayudar Prevención de Ejecución Hipotecaria de Consejería.

Operation H.E.L.P.

Open Communities is a partner with 15 other Chicago-area non-profit organizations to reach out to Latino homeowners to help stem the tide of foreclosures. Led by the Latino Policy Forum using funds from the National Foreclosure Settlement, Open Communities conducts door-to-door outreach and community education to Latinos in the northern suburbs.

Make an Appointment
with our Housing Counselors

To schedule an appointment and ensure a quick turnaround, please provide us with an advance copy of specific mortgage documents.

Review our foreclosure counseling packet

Other
Counselors

If you need foreclosure counseling and live outside Chicago’s northern suburbs,
other agencies can help.

Find an agency

More than 15,400 homes were foreclosed in Chicago’s northern suburbs between 2005 and 2014, according to a Open Communities’ analysis of Woodstock Institute foreclosure filings data.
A variety of factors have contributed to the high rate of foreclosures:

  • Predatory Lending – This term describes the abusive practices of lenders who pressure or deceive borrowers into taking on debt that’s beyond their ability to repay. Predatory lending is illegal in Illinois.
  • Subprime Loans – Subprime loans typically are offered to people with flawed or limited credit histories. The loans carry a higher rate of interest than prime loans to compensate for the lender’s increased risk. When fair, these loans may benefit homeowners with poor credit ratings. Unfortunately, subprime loans are frequently offered by dishonest lenders who do not factor in homeowners’ ability to repay the loan.
  • Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) – These loans start borrowers out with a couple of years of modest monthly payments—often only covering interest and not the loan principle—and then adjust rapidly upward. ARMs leave many borrowers in serious financial trouble and vulnerable to foreclosure.

Numerous studies have shown that foreclosure-prone loans are disproportionately made to people in minority groups, regardless of their incomes.

Protect Yourself

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may have a predatory loan.

  • Are you making higher payments on your loan than you expected?
  • Did the lender inflate your income during the application process?
  • Were you led into a high-interest rate mortgage when you could have qualified for a mortgage with a lower interest rate?
  • Have you incorrectly been charged late fees?
  • Were you only offered a loan with a pre-payment penalty?
  • Did the original terms or conditions of the loan change at closing?
  • Have you been harassed by your lender? Or, has your lender stopped being responsive about your questions or concerns after the loan was made?

How we can help

Open Communities is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide one-on-one and group housing counseling services to prevent foreclosure, mortgage scams and lending discrimination. Our multi-lingual counselors are fluent in Polish, Russian and Spanish.
If you’re living in Chicago’s northern suburbs and struggling to afford your mortgage, we can:

  • Educate you about your available options and fair lending rights.
  • Review your loan documents and help you create a customized household budget.
  • Negotiate with lenders on your behalf to prevent you from losing your home.
  • Refer you to legal and financial resources such as the Refinance Program for Underwater Homeowners.

All our services are confidential and free of charge. Appointments are held in our Winnetka office; we also offer Evanston residents appointments in our office in the Evanston Civic Center.

Important note: Before one of our counselors can schedule an appointment to discuss your situation, you must provide copies of specific mortgage documents. (Note that we are unable to accept original documents or photocopy them for you.) Please review our foreclosure counseling packet.

In addition: If you are at risk of foreclosure or are having trouble paying your mortgage, visit the Governor’s Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network website. The Network is a FREE, one-stop resource that links homeowners to state agencies and non-profit organizations that offer services designed to keep people in their homes. This includes the homeownership counseling or free legal advice offered by this agency as well as other help including temporary mortgage assistance.

Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program

Established by the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program’s goal is to deliver critical services to Cook County homeowners in crisis as early as possible once the foreclosure process begins. As part of the program, homeowners who have received a summons to appear in court will have access to housing counseling and legal assistance at no charge. Open Communities is participating in this program as an Outreach Agency, through The Chicago Community Trust, which is administering the program for the County. With the support and information provided through the mediation program, homeowners in foreclosure will be able to explore their options to either stay in their homes or negotiate a respectable exit.

Foreclosure Mediation Program

Don’t be a victim of loan scams!

As foreclosures rise, so do the numbers of loan modification scammers preying on homeowners in need. They will promise to modify your loan, then they will take your money, house, or both. Avoid their deceiving schemes by speaking to a trusted HUD-approved counselor such as the Open Communities. With HUD you have the power to stop them. File a complaint. Call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) or visit any of these resources:


US Dept of Housing Foreclosure Timeline
Fair Lending Fact Sheet Illinois Legal Aid Online

Foreign Language Translations of Foreclosure Avoidance Brochures

To help housing counselors and others serve homeowners who do not speak English as their first language, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has translated two brochures into several languages. You can find and order these resources and others on CFPB’s Bulk Publications Website.

Take-Control-to-Avoid-Foreclosure Checklist: A checklist for consumers. This short checklist provides troubled borrowers with quick action steps to get help and find out about options to avoid foreclosure. It is available in the following languages:

Summary of CFPB foreclosure avoidance procedures: A useful summary of CFPB foreclosure rules for mortgage servicers. Summarizes key timelines and deadlines for borrowers to apply for alternatives to foreclosure that may be available. It is available in the following languages:

Frequently Asked Questions

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