Lisa Madigan doles out $70 million in foreclosure funds

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan awarded $70 million towards local foreclosure relief efforts, with the new Cook County Land Bank taking the biggest piece of the pie.

The money, which comes from the state's share of a $25 billion national settlement last year between government officials and the country's five largest mortgage lenders over alleged servicing abuses, were awarded to 54 proposals "toward relief efforts for Illinois communities fraught with vacant and abandoned properties," Ms. Madigan's office said in a statement today.

An advisory council tasked with choosing the recipients received 136 proposals seeking $507 million in relief.

The Cook County Land Bank, established this year to acquire and redevelop distressed properties across city borders, received $6 million for start-up efforts and will share the money with the existing South Suburban Land Bank.

“This major funding announcement means the Cook County Land Bank can now operationalize its mission and objective to return vacant and abandoned property back to productive and sustainable uses,” Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer said in a statement.

Ms. Gainer and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spearheaded the land bank ordinance, which took effect this year.

Other local recipients include $3 million toward a foreclosure-to-rental program by the Hispanic Housing Development Corp. in Chicago, and $3 million toward a "regional revitalization strategy" by the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley in DuPage and Kane counties.

“With these awards, we are making a down payment on a better future for families in communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis,” Ms. Madigan said in the statement. “The work being done by these outstanding organizations will help move us forward on the road to recovery.”

The 2012 settlement already has delivered nearly $2 billion in direct relief to affected Illinois homeowners through refinances and principal reductions and an additional $43 million in direct payments to foreclosed borrowers, Ms. Madigan said in today's statement. The attorney general's office also has awarded $20 million to legal aid organizations and $5 million to pilot mortgage foreclosure mediation programs in Illinois through the settlement.