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Family buys first home thanks to Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Ignacio Barragan his family  wife LuciBarragan daughters Naomi Barragan (front left) 6 Xochitl Barragan (front right) 8 AylBarragan 12

Ignacio Barragan and his family, wife, Lucia Barragan, and daughters, Naomi Barragan (front left), 6, Xochitl Barragan (front right), 8, and Aylin Barragan, 12, outside of their new home. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

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Funding numbers

Neighborhood Stabilization funding received so far:

North Chicago: $219,803

Waukegan: $923,586

Affordable Housing Corp. of Lake County: $1,735,148

Lake County Residential Development Corp.: $1,262,200

For more information, to to and click on Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

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Updated: December 27, 2011 1:45AM

The foreclosure crisis may have decimated the economy, but it also has presented unexpected opportunity.

The Barragan family of North Chicago, former renters of a two-bedroom apartment, are now happy homeowners, thanks to the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which has so far pumped $4.6 million into Lake County to help municipalities buy, rehab and resell foreclosed homes.

Under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, qualified first-time home buyers are moving into like-new homes that are selling for a fraction of the cost of new construction.

The Barragans, who had to shop around for a mortgage, bought their three-bedroom ranch in the 2100 block of Wallace Avenue for $75,000. The home features a new roof, new siding, new flooring, new appliances, new fixtures and cabinets in the bathroom and the kitchen.

Ignacio Barragan, 47, a jeweler for a Gurnee store, looked at his large, fenced-in backyard on Wednesday with his wife, Lucia, 43, and three daughters.

“We have more room, more privacy,” he said. “I plan to continue working hard and to see my daughters graduate from college.”

Lucia Barragan was emotional about moving into her “dream house.”

“It’s a new dream, a new life,” she said.

Funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program also have been used to purchase and rehab single-family homes in Waukegan, Round Lake, Round Lake Beach and Mundelein in areas that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and local officials have deemed as the hardest hit by foreclosures. In Zion, $1.3 million in such funds went to rebuilt an 18-unit apartment building.

The program is aimed at halting the negative effects of foreclosures to families, neighborhoods and towns, including vandalism, crime and lower property values.

“It’s doing exactly what the program was meant to do,” said Joseph Napolitano, director of economic development for North Chicago. “It’s stabilizing neighborhoods. We’re getting people in these homes who are going to take care of them, who have a vested interest in taking care of their property.”

Fourteen homes in the program have been sold. Six are still on the market. Money from homes that are sold is plowed back into the program.

“We’re in the process of rolling out another round of funding,” said Jonathan Burch, Lake County’s senior community development planner. Marketing the Neighborhood Stabilization Program has been a challenge, he said. The Barragans learned that the house they ended up buying was available from a friend who spotted it.

Program funding of $220,000 is making a small but meaningful dent in North Chicago, where the home-ownership rate is just 35 percent, Napolitano said. Three homes have been rehabbed and two sold.

“Although our funding is limited based on our size, we are making the best of it,” Mayor Leon Rockingham said. “We are bettering the community and changing the lives of North Chicago residents.”

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