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Foreclosure prevention program has helped woman keep her home

Holly Campbell her home Homewood Illinois Thursday October 11 2012.  Holly is taking part Illinois Housing Development Authority program

Holly Campbell at her home in Homewood, Illinois, Thursday, October 11, 2012. Holly is taking part in the Illinois Housing Development Authority program, called Hardest Hit, which helps people who are behind on mortgage payments and are unable to make monthly mortgage. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Foreclosure help

A free foreclosure prevention workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the South Holland Community Center, 501 E. 170th St. Sponsored by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, the workshop’s aim is to help people who’ve fallen behind in their mortgage payments due to a substantial loss of income. The workshop is free and open to the public.

People who think they might qualify for a Hardest Hit mortgage grant should bring a mortgage statement, 2010 and 2011 W-2 forms and tax returns with all schedules, two months of recent pay stubs, a budget of household expenses, documentation of any other income, two months of bank statements, a recently utility bill and, if self-employed, a profit-loss statement.

For more information about state programs aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure, visit or call (855) 533-7411.

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Updated: November 13, 2012 6:35AM

When a tree was cut down this week in the front yard of her home, Homewood resident Holly Campbell bid it good riddance.

She’d tripped over one of the roots, resulting in a hospital visit, and those same tree roots were wreaking havoc on the sewer line running to her house, meaning a steep plumber’s bill. To make matters worse, one of the limbs snapped off, breaking her car’s windshield.

All told, that tree took $2,500 out of her pocket — a lot of money for anybody, but a budget-breaker for a single mom of three teens who’s been trying to keep a roof over their heads despite being without full-time work for two years.

The fact she and her kids are still in their home is due in no small part to the state’s Hardest Hit program, which uses federal funds to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

Overseen by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, the program provides up to $25,000 in financial help to get homeowners current with their mortgage and to make future mortgage payments.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the authority will hold a foreclosure prevention workshop providing information about Hardest Hit and other programs. It will be held at the South Holland Community Center, 501 E. 170th St. For more information on other workshops, go to

State housing officials say they’re trying to better publicize the Hardest Hit program, especially to homeowners who might be current on their mortgage but are having a rough time financially. When Campbell first heard about the program in 2010 after losing her job, she was still able to make her mortgage payments and didn’t think Hardest Hit would help her.

“I thought you had to be behind on your mortgage to be eligible, so I didn’t apply,” said Campbell, who has a master’s degree in nonprofit administration.

Later, in 2011, she did apply, but a minor error on her part resulted in her application being rejected. It was later cleared up, and the Hardest Hit fund took over her mortgage payments in May of this year, just six days after her unemployment benefits ran out. At that point, she was two months behind on her mortgage.

Unlike a mortgage modification, which can carry with it a mountain of paperwork, the application process for Hardest Hit “didn’t make you go crazy,” Campbell said.

While the program will provide mortgage assistance for up to 1½ years, or $25,000, Campbell said her goal is to resume making mortgage payments on her own within six months. While she’s been getting by with part-time work, Campbell said she is fine-tuning her job skills to better position herself for a full-time job.

“I am trying to become an expert on something that will make me more marketable,” she said.

The state received $450 million in funding from the federal government for Hardest Hit, one of many programs launched in the wake of rising foreclosures that resulted from the collapse of the real estate market.

State housing officials said despite signs of an improving economy, foreclosure filings in south suburbs were up 10 percent through the first six months of this year compared with the first half of 2011.

On Thursday, foreclosure activity tracker RealtyTrac said foreclosure filings in the Chicago area rose 25 percent in September compared with a year earlier, but that foreclosure activity was down almost 19 percent from August.

Also on Thursday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said a $650,000 grant is being awarded to the Legal Aid Society, which is launching an initiative to offer legal help to homeowners in Cook County communities hardest hit by foreclosures. The funds come from the state’s share of a settlement with the nation’s biggest banks over allegations of fraudulent practices in foreclosure filings.

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