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Helping hand extended to struggling homeowners

LisThompson-Bennett (from left) Illinois Attorney General’s Office Raquel GarciAraceli Diaz with Spanish Coalitifor Housing State Sen. MelindBush from Grayslake confer

Lisa Thompson-Bennett (from left) of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Raquel Garcia and Araceli Diaz with the Spanish Coalition for Housing and State Sen. Melinda Bush from Grayslake confer at a foreclosure prevention workshop that Bush hosted in Grayslake on Saturday. | JIM NEWTON~SUN-TIMES MEDIA

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Updated: December 5, 2013 6:17AM

Foreclosure rates have decreased since the height of the recession, but many residents are still struggling to hang on to their homes.

On Saturday, local homeowners had the opportunity to take advantage of resources provided by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, The Illinois Housing Development Authority and several large banks in a foreclosure prevention workshop organized by State Sen. Melinda Bush, who lives in Grayslake.

“The interest here is helping people keep their homes,” Bush said at the workshop, held at the Lake County High Schools Technology campus in Grayslake.

Bush said Lake County is third in the state in terms of foreclosure rates.

“It’s pretty staggering,” she said.

The workshop was highly publicized in Lake County communities where foreclosure rates are high, including Grayslake, Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Gurnee, Waukegan, Zion and North Chicago.

“We brought underwriters from the banks. People who come here with (proper) documents can get a decision on a home loan modification today,” said Lisa Thompson-Bennett with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

The workshop was not exactly bustling Saturday morning, but that was partly because it offered privacy and one-one-one counseling with those who attended, allowing them to work in conference rooms with loan underwriters and counselors from Prairie State Legal Services and the Attorney General’s Office.

“What I want people to know is these events are very private,” Bush said.

“They can come in, get info and work with lenders.”

One Warren Township resident who did not want to be identified attended the workshop with her daughter to check on the status of an application she had already submitted for a loan modification to help her keep her home. Representatives of the Illinois Housing Development Authority were able to give her one-on-one attention in a convenient location.

The workshop also offered residents the opportunity to get help from organizations not looking to profit from their misfortune.

“Foreclosure filings have gone down, but the goal is to make people aware that free and legitimate help is available,” Thompson-Bennett said.

Those needing help or interested in more information may call the Attorney General’s Illinois Homeowner Hotline at (866) 544-7151.

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