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Bank of America Looks to Revitalize Abandoned Homes in Chicago

Bank of America and the city of Chicago have reached a partnership to address abandoned homes in order to stabilize these neighborhoods.

Created by a Cook County court call, the vacant and abandoned building program will identify 150 default properties and donate them to the city and nonprofit organizations for reuse, redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization. The purpose of the agreement is to alleviate the impact vacant properties have on surrounding neighborhoods and local communities and to reduce the number of deteriorating buildings and homes that can cause neighborhood blight.

“Bank of America is committed to a comprehensive neighborhood stabilization approach to help support our customers and the communities we serve and live in,” said Tim Maloney, president of the Illinois market for Bank of America. “The programs we are announcing in Chicago build on the initiatives we already have taken in homeownership retention, foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization and revitalization.”

As part of the court call program, Bank of America will file foreclosure actions on eligible properties. The city and bank anticipate that this expedited foreclosure process will significantly reduce the foreclosure timeframe from an average of 18 months for vacant and abandoned properties in order to return them to stable, productive use.

A third proponent of the partnership is for the bank to contribute toward the costs of demolishing deteriorating buildings on the donated properties to relieve the financial burden of the city.

The final initiative agreed upon is for the bank to donate foreclosed and vacant condominium units to the nonprofit Community Investments Corp. for its Troubled Condos Initiative, a partnership with the city to upgrade, preserve and stabilize management of affordable rental housing.

There were 9,433 homes in Chicago that received a foreclosure filing in April, according to RealtyTrac. Completed foreclosures in Cook County rose 10.5% in the last three months compared to the final quarter in 2010. As a result, almost 2,800 properties became bank-owned during the quarter, said a report issued by the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based research and advocacy group.

Besides these initiatives, the bank has already created a full-time customer assistance center preventing foreclosures from taking place. This call center provides homeowners who are having difficulty making their mortgage and other credit account payments the ability to receive face-to-face counseling, onsite processing and underwriting of mortgage modification requests and other assistance.

“In addition to helping support social efforts, Bank of America is working with the city to help protect residents and communities from the dangers posed by vacant properties,” said Mayor Richard Daley. “As we continue to face the worst recession in 70 years, addressing the foreclosure problem is essential. This vacant and abandoned building initiative is a perfect example of public-private partnerships that have moved Chicago forward.”