Remarks by MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton at the City of Chicago’s Foreclosure Press Conference
January 15, 2009 | Speech | Housing, Community & Economic Development

Thank you, Mayor Daley, for those generous words. As you know, the MacArthur Foundation is pleased to make common cause with you, your excellent staff, strong national and local organizations like Mercy Housing and Neighborhood Housing Services, civic and community-minded banks like those represented here today, and others, to address the foreclosure crisis. Under your leadership, the City’s approach to this challenge is comprehensive, compassionate and competent.

We are pleased to support the project Mayor Daley is announcing today. Our $500,000 grant for start-up funds, and a program-related investment to help the new organization attract funds beyond the $55 million coming from the federal government, are intended to help stabilize neighborhoods hard hit by vacancy and foreclosure. Without strategic, fast action to get homes and apartments back into productive use through sale, rental, rent-to-own or redevelopment, neighborhoods all over the city will continue to suffer. Many of these neighborhoods are part of the New Communities Program, where MacArthur is investing as much as $150 million over a decade and we, like all of us here, are eager to see them and other neighborhoods flourish.

Our support for this effort is part of our larger $68 million dollar Foreclosure Prevention and Mitigation Project, which we announced in October last year. I said then, and my remarks mean even more today, that the scale of the foreclosure crisis threatens to disrupt hard-won gains in many of Chicago’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Since MacArthur’s inception 30 years ago, we have supported efforts to make cities better places and to help low-income neighborhoods build their assets and their potential. No where is this work more urgent and no where is it more important to us than in the city we call home.

That project also addresses prevention, with grants to NHS, Greater Southwest Development Corporation and LISC, for outreach and counseling for homeowners and to other organizations for legal assistance for victims of fraud or other valid claims. Program-related investments, which are typically low-cost loans or deposits in financial institutions, like Shorebank, are making new mortgage refinancing products available to help owners keep their homes. Legal assistance also is helping renters facing eviction to keep their homes or gain more time to find alternate rental housing. The goal of these “front-end” prevention activities is to leverage more than $500 million in mortgage products and to assist 10,000 households, including counseling to 6,000 borrowers and prevention of 2,700 foreclosures by 2010. We share Mayor Daley’s concern that these activities continue and even grow, as the crisis continues throughout this year and next.

We are on the board of Living Cities, a national urban policy organization, and we are pleased that it made a grant to the City to support this project. I believe it is off to a strong start and that the infrastructure is in place here in Chicago, through this project and the partners here today, to channel any additional resources that may become available from the federal government directly into the neighborhoods and for the benefit of people struggling to hold on to their homes.

Thank you.

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