By Mary R. Kenney Chicago

Homeowners, act now to get mortgage relief

As headlines shift to a recovery in the housing market, with an increase in national home values and home sales, it’s easy to forget that many of our friends and neighbors are still struggling through the bad economy. Last year, more than 28,000 Illinois families lost their homes, and the foreclosure rate in Illinois continues to be high.

Determining what options are available can be a daunting task. When time is wasted, the amount required for a homeowner to bring his or her loan current can escalate quickly.

Gov. Pat Quinn launched the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network last year to ensure that homeowners can efficiently and easily access all resources they need in one place, free of charge, from a reliable and trusted source.

IFPN coordinates the efforts of various state agencies and non-profit organizations, providing a single point of entry for those seeking help. The network simplifies access to counseling and legal advice, and provides financial assistance to qualifying homeowners. It offers homeowners a safe, trusted, and free source for support.

The network has connected more than 350,000 Illinois families to information and support. Nearly 36,000 families have been connected to counselors who provide one-on-one counseling in more than 80 locations around the state.

More than 3,400 homeowners have attended IFPN events and workshops, receiving onsite loan modifications, face-to-face counseling, and help to apply for financial assistance. More than 6,000 families have received critical financial assistance through the state’s Hardest Hit Program, helping to bring their mortgage current and keeping it that way.

Those services are vital to homeowners in need and are easily accessed through the IFPN website, www.keepyourhomeillinois.org, and toll-free helpline, 1-855-KEEP-411.

Let’s make 2013 a year of real recovery – not just for some, but for all Illinois families. Preventing additional foreclosures is a critical step to keep our communities strong, our families healthy, and the economic recovery moving forward.

Note to readers – Mary R. Kenney is executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

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