Chicago Bracing For Post-Pandemic Foreclosure Surge

September 8, 2020

As the Circuit Court of Cook County stares down an influx of eviction, foreclosure and other debt collection cases, the local legal community is using the calm before the storm to help Chicago residents mitigate their pandemic-era financial crises and potentially save their homes.

Cook County remotely reopened in July, but has kept evictions, garnishments, repossessions and foreclosures at bay under a statewide moratorium on those proceedings implemented during the COVID-19 health crisis. Judge Moshe Jacobius, who presides over the court's Chancery Division, told Law360 that when a statewide moratorium on foreclosure lifts, there could be a potential onslaught of new cases.

Yet the unusual period of downtime has pushed groups like the Chicago Bar Foundation, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and Legal Aid Chicago to get ahead of the expected onslaught of cases to develop programs intended to keep people housed. The foundation, for example, is working with the court on plans to restart a foreclosure mediation program that launched amid the 2008 recession and housing crisis but ended several years ago when demand was lower.

"The idea is to try to use some of the lessons from the foreclosure program and others around the country so we can tackle this thing really upfront and try to see if we can come to an agreement that keeps everybody in place, and if not, what's the next best solution," Chicago Bar Foundation Executive Director Robert Glaves told Law360. "If we get anything remotely like we got in 2008 and 2009, we really need to be out in front of this."

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