Measure also funds foreclosure counseling for 18,000 households

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) thanked housing advocates, financial institutions and the Quinn administration for working together on a new strategy to address the glut of abandoned residential properties clogging the court system. The governor signed Senate Bill 16 today at a ceremony also attended by homeowners able to stay in their homes after receiving foreclosure counseling.

“Restoring stability to the housing market is critical to leading the broader economy out of recession. Our strategy grapples with the continuing foreclosure crisis on two levels: first, by clearing out the court logjam of foreclosures on truly abandoned properties; and second, by empowering communities to rehabilitate unsightly and dangerous vacant houses and lots,” said Collins, the measure’s sponsor. “It will also fund foreclosure counseling, a proven method of keeping people in their homes.”

This legislation creates a fast-track process for foreclosures when the property in question has been abandoned, shortening the total time from more than 500 days to approximately 100 days in such cases. It safeguards the rights of homeowners and legitimate occupants by establishing notification requirements and a strict definition of abandoned property. The law also increases the foreclosure filing fee. The proceeds will go to the Foreclosure Prevention Program Fund for homeowner counseling grants — funding counseling for an additional 18,000 households — and the Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Fund, which will award a projected $28 million in grants to counties and municipalities to maintain, renovate or demolish abandoned properties.

“I am so glad I learned about homeowner counseling when I did,” said Mary Edmonds, a homeowner who obtained help from a foreclosure prevention grant recipient and spoke at the bill signing. “I had been in my home for 20 years when I lost my job and my mother became ill and passed away. With unemployment benefits running out, my only source of income was from a seasonal tax preparation job. By working with Neighborhood Housing Services, I was able to receive a reinstatement and monthly mortgage payment assistance.”

“Neither homeowners nor communities nor lenders benefit from a drawn-out foreclosure crisis that keeps the market sluggish and neighborhoods riddled with abandoned homes,” Collins said. “We know what works – counseling and community empowerment – and we’re emphasizing those tactics in our overall strategy.”

PHOTO: From left to right, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, Adam Gross with Business & Professional People for the Public Interest, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, State Senator Jacqueline Collins, State Senator John Mulroe along with other activists.

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SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Senate adopted a resolution, sponsored by State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th), declaring today National African-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is Illinois’ twelfth annual observance of the day.

“It’s important each year to educate Illinoisans about HIV/AIDS and break down stereotypes surrounding this disease,” Collins said. “I’m presenting this resolution to send three messages. First, AIDS doesn’t respect boundaries of race or sexual orientation. Second, black women and men are disproportionately diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. And third, when you know your status and have treatment options you can live life to the fullest, even with HIV.”

In 2007, Collins sponsored legislation creating the Quality of Life grant program funded by the Red Ribbon Cash scratch-off lottery game. She persuaded her colleagues to extend it last year until 2018. Quality of Life grants are awarded to organizations that promote awareness of HIV/AIDS and provide services to HIV-positive individuals. The program reserves half its funding for community-based groups with small budgets, and it spreads resources throughout the state and to a variety of at-risk groups.

Facts about African-Americans and HIV/AIDS in Illinois (from Senate Resolution 48):

     - 35,000 Illinoisans live with HIV.

     - Of new diagnoses, 51 percent are African-Americans.

     - In Chicago, black gay men under 30 have an infection rate three times that of their white counterparts.

     - More than two-thirds of women diagnosed with HIV in the United States are black.

     - HIV/AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death among African-American men ages 25 to 44 and the third leading cause of death among African-American women in the same age range.

SPRINGFIELD, IL – St. Bernard Hospital recognized Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) Friday at its annual service remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The hospital presented Sen. Collins with its 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King’s Humanitarian Service Award for her dedication to improving quality of life for individuals and families in the communities St. Bernard serves.

“It is an honor to accept this award, named for a leader whose legacy inspires me every day,” Sen. Collins said. “As we pause together to celebrate Dr. King’s life, let us rededicate ourselves to the struggle for justice and human dignity in these neighborhoods and throughout our city and state.”

Since her first election to the Illinois Senate in 2002, Sen. Collins has focused on several areas of particular interest to Englewood and other neighborhoods on the South Side, including housing issues, community revitalization and economic development, violence prevention, access to quality health care, access to fresh food and fairness in financial transactions. Like Sen. Collins, St. Bernard Hospital understands the relationship between economic and physical health. In 2004, the hospital and its partners built Bernard Place, an affordable housing development that has brought 70 new families to Englewood. Charles A. Holland, Jr., now President and CEO of St. Bernard, directed the project.

“For us to believe, act and dream together for the good of families and communities is a privilege and even a sacred duty,” Sen. Collins said. “I’m humbled that you’ve chosen to recognize my efforts, and I salute yours.”

PHOTO: (From left to right)Sen  Collins Ald Cochran flanked by STBH Officers Danny Rollins, Vice President for Ancillary and Support Services; Charles Holland, President and CEO; 20th Ward Alderman Willie B. Cochran; Sen. Collins; Henry Wiggins, M.D., Chief Radiologist; Ronald Campbell, Vice President for Case Management and Coordination of Care and Roland Abellera, Chief Quality Officer

UPDATE: For more information on this story, please see this story from Chicago.

SPRINGFIELD, IL - tate Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) stood with housing advocates and Governor Quinn Tuesday at the signing of legislation she sponsored to extend state-level legal protections for participants in a federal loan modification program.

“If a struggling homeowner is meeting all the obligations of a federally approved program, that individual and his or her family should not lose their home,” Sen. Collins said. “I commend the Obama administration on its decision to extend the Making Home Affordable program through the end of 2013, and I believe the combination of federal and state foreclosure assistance now available to Illinois residents will do much to alleviate the human, social and economic toll of foreclosure this year.”

The federal Making Home Affordable program, which has helped over one million people nationwide since 2009, is a multi-pronged attack on the foreclosure crisis. The deadline for applying to participate in HAMP, its mortgage modification component, was recently extended until December 31, 2013; it was originally scheduled to sunset at the end of 2012. In 2010, Sen. Collins sponsored legislation requiring courts to invalidate any foreclosure sale that goes forward despite the homeowner’s participation in HAMP. The sale could also be set aside if the bank had failed to meet certain federal requirements, such as providing the homeowner with adequate notice of the foreclosure filing. House Bill 5019 extends these protections until Making Home Affordable’s new sunset date so Illinoisans can continue to participate in the program and stay in their homes.

“Smart lenders understand everybody wins – banks, homeowners, communities and the economy – when more people can afford their payments and stay in their homes,” Sen. Collins said. “Illinois is at the forefront of the effort to stem the tide of foreclosures, and working with the federal government to protect Making Home Affordable participants is one more way we’re winning this battle.”

The legislation also changes the timeline for harmonizing state law with the Dodd-Frank Act so that Illinois lenders are not at a disadvantage while the federal government implements stricter rules against “dual tracking” – the practice of continuing with a foreclosure action while the borrower seeks a loan modification.

PHOTO: State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (yellow jacket) with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and housing advocates at the bill signing for House Bill 5019


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