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Foreclosure Help at your Doorstep

Antonia Couvertier-Gonzalez still remembers the day the letter arrived.  It was sent by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, or LSNA, and it advised her that her house was in foreclosure.

She panicked.  How could this happen, she wondered.  After all, shse had spoken on numerous occasions with an employee of Chase Bank, and everything seemed to be under control.

But it wasn't.  In fact, her house and her future had been in the hands of a 19-year-old bank employee who in the end didn't turn out to be much help.

Couvertier turned to Marcelo Ferrer.  A community organizer and director of foreclosure prevention at the LSNA, Ferrer told Couvertier about the LSNA free foreclosure counseling services, and linked her with foreclosure assistance programs offered by Cook County.

But LSNA workers don't just sit idly by waiting for the phone to ring.  Volunteers and community organizers go door-to-door looking for homeowners facing foreclosure.  They knock on at least 100 doors a month.

"We advise homeowners of the resources and options that are out there, and we also work to prevent homeowners from being defrauded," Ferrer said.

The Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program provides the LSNA with a list of names and addresses of homes in foreclosure.  Volunteers go door-to-door to "speak directly with homeowners," Ferrer said.

With the LSNA's help, Couvertier will likely save her home because she acted quickly.  After locating homeowners in need, the LSNA can help navigate the sometimes complicated banking system and help renegotiate mortgage contracts.  But it's crucial that homeowners appear in court to fight for their homes, he said. 

"If someone tells you not to go to court, don't listen to them," Ferrer said.

It is also important to remember that foreclosures can move forward even while homeowners are in negotiations with bank employees.  While one office may be negotiating, another may be moving to foreclosure.

In 2010, some 1,000 homes were foreclosed upon in Illinois, the country's fourth highest figure.  Many foreclosures happen in dense urban areas, such as Chicago's Cook County and outlying suburbs.  In Illinois, it is illegal to charge a fee for foreclosure assistance.

Keywords: Antonia Couvertier-Gonzalez, Foreclosure, Marcelo Ferrer

Posted in LSNA in the Media