Have too many foreclosed properties?

Why not give them away?

That’s what Bank of America plans to do with as many as 150 vacant and abandoned properties in and around Chicago through a new “collaboration” with the city that’s intended to address the problem of abandoned properties.

“Unfortunately,” BofA said in a statement, “many homeowners faced with unemployment, underemployment and other economic hardships have transitioned to alternative housing situations, and in many cases, have walked away from their homes, leaving behind vacant and deteriorating properties that can cause neighborhood blight.”

As part of the new effort, BofA plans to:

  • Register properties with the city when the mortgage is delinquent and the property has been identified as vacant and abandoned.
  • Identify up to 150 properties that will be referred to a new Cook County vacant and abandoned building court call in an effort to speed up the foreclosure process and return the properties to stable, productive use. The foreclosure timeline for vacant and abandoned properties in the area currently averages 18 months, the bank said.
  • Contribute funds toward the city’s costs of demolishing deteriorating buildings on the donated properties.
  • Donate foreclosed and vacant condominiums to the nonprofit Community Investment Corp. as part of an initiative to upgrade, preserve and stabilize management of affordable rental housing.

BofA also recently held a mortgage modification outreach event and opened a new full-time customer assistance center in Chicago.

These and other initiatives “provide convenient opportunities for customers who are having difficulty making their mortgage and other credit account payments to receive face-to-face counseling, on-site processing and underwriting of mortgage modification requests and other assistance,” the bank explained.

Bank of America presently has 12 full-time customer assistance centers. Twenty-eight more are scheduled to open in the next few months. Seven will be located in California. Others will be in Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, St. Louis and other major cities.

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