Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs has been certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a Housing Counseling Agency, which places Interfaith on HUD’s approved referral list and qualifies Interfaith for additional HUD funding for its foreclosure prevention work. Interfaith is one of only two HUD-certified housing agencies in north suburban Cook County, and the only one to specialize in foreclosures caused by predatory lending.

“Foreclosures are the latest threat to diverse and affordable communities in the northern suburbs,” said Interfaith’s Executive Director Gail Schechter. “Interfaith’s new certification gives us additional capabilities to broaden our outreach and our services as we seek to foster an open, stable and healthy housing market during this difficult economic environment.”

In Evanston the number of foreclosure filings has increased from 96 in 2005 to 179 in 2007, an 87 percent increase, according to a recent report by the Woodstock Institute. In 16 northern suburbs the number of foreclosure filings has increased from 389 in 2005 to 840 in 2007, an increase of 141 percent.

Typically, households in danger of foreclosure have been lower-income older adults, people of color, and people with blemished credit, said Ms. Schechter. Given the national and local projections, the number of foreclosure filings in the northern suburbs is expected to continue to climb – and this against a backdrop of rental stock gone-condo and more affordable, smaller homes being demolished in favor of housing stock that is increasingly unaffordable for fiscally-strapped households, she added.

Interfaith’s free foreclosure prevention service includes one-on-one mortgage counseling, assistance in re-negotiating loan terms, referral where necessary for legal assistance or low-cost government home improvement programs, and help obtaining deferment of payments for financial or medical reasons. Interfaith also works in collaboration with other housing counseling, government, and public policy advocates in the Chicago area, a role positively recognized by HUD.

Homeowners can contact Interfaith directly 847-501-5760, ihcns@interfaithhousingcenter.org or via a link on the HUD website www.hud.org or via a toll-free 800 number referral.