• Proposed HUD Cuts Could Reduce Chicago Foreclosure Help

    Chicago could lose $73 million in federal funds for public housing and $25.8 million in federal funds for social services, according to a Medill Reports story published on October 20, 2011. Because of widespread cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2012 budget proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, neighborhoods throughout the city could experience an increase in foreclosures and an influx of crime, housing policy experts told Medill.

    “If the HUD fund goes away and people can’t get help, we’ll see many people leaving their homes before they even have to,” Braden Listmann, housing policy director of Action Now in Chicago, told Medill. “They go into foreclosure because of that and it has a domino effect on the whole neighborhood.”

    Action Now, a grassroots organization for working families that provides counseling services to homeowners at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure, depends on HUD funding. Are you concerned about additional options for foreclosure help going away?

    If you are being threatened with foreclosure, you should know that a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy could not only help you get your finances in order, but could also keep you and your family in your home. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers will be happy to answer all of your questions about the process when you contact our firm to set up a consultation. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , our firm will assist you in becoming debt free and credit rich.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Housing Starts Surge in September, But Not Enough to Single Recovery

    A surge in volatile apartment construction drove homes to be built in September at the fastest pace in 17 months, the USA Today reported on October 19, 2011. While single-family home construction rose only slightly and building permits fell to a five-month low, the Commerce Department said privately owned homes were started at a 658,000 annual rate last month. According to USA Today, that is a 15 percent increase from August and roughly half the 1.2 million that economists say is consistent with healthy housing markets.

    New-home sales, however, hit a six-month low by falling in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 295,000. USA Today said this year is shaping up to be the worst since the government began keeping records a half-century ago.

    For every news item that hints at economic improvement, does it seem like you are still waiting to feel the benefits? If you are struggling through hard times and want to end creditor harassment, you can get deserved relief today by filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In order to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure, the first step could be a bankruptcy means test . Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can assist you in getting the foreclosure help you have been seeking when you contact our office to set up an initial consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Making Foreclosures Strategic

    What if foreclosure could be used for your benefit? According to a September survey conducted by business schools at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, 34 percent of foreclosures are of the “strategic variety,” the Press-Enterprise reported on October 18, 2011.

    Strategic defaulters could afford to stay current on their mortgage payments but decide to “walk away” and let lenders foreclose. In the Press-Enterprise article, one family was preparing to buy a brand new house that was nearly twice the size of their first house, although the new payments will be no more than the old ones. Because it generally takes three years of waiting with strong handling of finances in that time span, it makes sense that some foreclosure veterans are showing up now.

    While it is encouraging that some homeowners can use the current housing market to their advantage, where does that leave the families who are facing foreclosure but want to stay in their current home? If you are in need of foreclosure help , then now is the best time for you to consider the benefits of filing bankruptcy . Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you get deserved relief today by filing a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy that can help consolidate, reorganize or eliminate your debt. Whether you have heard of a bankruptcy means test or not, our firm can answer all of your questions when you contact our office to set up a consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Home Agency Director Took Interest-Free Loans Despite State Law

    Kenneth Pannaralla not only takes home $213,418 a year from a city pension and three government jobs, but the former captain for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan also got two interest-free home-improvement loans worth a total of $15,000 through the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program he has been executive director for since 2004. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on October 17, 2011, that Pannaralla and his daughter also currently have another zero-interest home-improvement loan through the agency for $10,000, although the Illinois Home Equity Assurance Act supposedly bans such benefits.

    The law states: “No commissioner or family member of a commissioner, or employee or family member of an employee, may receive any financial benefit, either directly or indirectly” from the program. The Sun-Times also reported that the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program was one of three small government agencies established by referendum in Chicago as a result of a state law passed in 1988 to curb white flight in Chicago’s bungalow belt. After paying $125 for the appraisal to enroll in the program, homeowners are guaranteed they will not lose money when they sell their home even if property values decline.

    While the Sun-Times reported the program has paid some homeowners as much as $155,000 when their homes sold far below appraisals typically performed several years before, the program began paying 59 percent of the difference between the sale price of a home and its guaranteed appraised value, rather than 100 percent. The program uses money it collects in property taxes from the Southwest Side district it covers to pay all of the interest on loans up to $10,000.

    Do you wish that you had the opportunity to enroll in something like the Southwest program? Or do you just wish you could have been connected like the other aldermen and government employees who received interest-free loans? As unfair as it all might seem, you should know that however bad your own current situation might be, there is a way out. Whether you have accumulated too much credit card debt or are simply in need of some type of foreclosure help , our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help outline the benefits of a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A bankruptcy means test can be the first step to help you eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. If you are tired of feeling like there is no answer to your financial problems, contact our firm today to speak with a legal professional who understands your situation and can help you achieve an affordable bankruptcy now.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Will More Startups Lead To More Hiring?

    Startup companies are growing in Illinois and many of them will be planning to hire new employees this year, the Chicago Tribune reported on October 17, 2011. In a survey distributed by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center with the help of other groups, 77 of 136 participants said their company was founded between 2006 and 2010. Only 12 companies were founded between 2000 and 2005, and the Tribune noted 30 startups have been formed in 2011 alone.

    Furthermore, almost 65 percent of respondents said they would add employees in 2011, with the majority of those new jobs based in Chicago. The Tribune also noted that 92 respondents said they are on the hunt for capital, and more than 75 percent of that group put themselves in the seed or early stages, thus preparing for a commercial launch or seeking funds to jumpstart sales.

    Have you been crippled financially because of unemployment? Are you making substantially less at a new job? If you need to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure, our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you with an affordable bankruptcy now. A bankruptcy means test can be the start for you to get deserved relief today. Filing for a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help consolidate, reorganize or eliminate your debt. If you have been desperately seeking foreclosure help , contact our office today to set up a consultation with our firm that could help finally end creditor harassment.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Two Different Foreclosure Plans Get Two Different Reactions

    Two South Loop aldermen introduced legislation to address the growing problem of vacant foreclosed properties, although the advocacy group Action Now supports one while being skeptical of the other. The Chicago Journal reported on October 12, 2011, that while Action Now said the revised version of vacant building legislation from Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) “might not be worth doing,” the group does “unequivocally support” an ordinance from Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward).

    According to the Journal, Dowell’s “new ordinance overly restricts the definition of what properties are considered vacant,” Action Now says. The original version of Dowell’s measure sought to make mortgage servicers holding a property after foreclosure secure and maintain that building unanimously passed the City Council on July 28. Action Now, however, contends that when the banks persuaded Dowell and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to revise the legislation, the advocacy group was not part of the negotiations. The updated legislation, they say, expands the definition of what properties are not vacant.

    Fioretti’s “more modest ordinance,” co-sponsored by Deborah Graham (29th), would make mortgage servicers or whoever else legally holds a vacant property deploy watchmen at abandoned buildings that are within 1,000 feet of schools, according to the Journal. The bank or institution owning the vacant property would pay for the watchmen, Fioretti told the Journal. The alderman also proposed a different ordinance that would set up credit unions in tax increment financing districts, to pool unused TIF money toward the rehabilitation of foreclosed properties.

    All over Chicago, there are a countless number of families seeking foreclosure help . Did you know that filing a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help keep you in your home and immediately end creditor harassment? Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you understand all of your legal options in dealing with your debt. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , contact our office today to take the first step toward becoming debt free and credit rich.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Could 25 Cents Bring 40,000 Jobs To Chicago?

    The Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York in September inspired thousands of protestors to take to the streets of downtown Chicago on October 10, 2011. While demonstrators around the nation were gathering to rally against economic inequality, the “Stand Up Chicago” coalition released their own plan to bring 40,000 jobs back to the Windy City on October 7, 2011.  According to the Chicago Reporter, the group has proposed collecting a $0.25 cent contract speculation fee from traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).

    The tax would generate $1.4 billion in revenue, despite an anticipated 15 percent reduction in trading volume because of the tax, according to the Reporter. Reuters, however, noted that the exchanges typically argue that such a tax would simply send trading elsewhere, and “CME and CBOE executives have already been considering pulling up their Chicago stakes and relocating to other states to avoid steep tax hikes imposed by Illinois earlier this year.”

    “Stand Up” indentifies themselves as groups of “workers, foreclosure victims , teachers, the unemployed and others who are tired of big banks and corporations bankrupting our neighborhoods.” Are you involved in “Stand Up Chicago” or did you attend any of the demonstrations? Do you think taxing the exchanges an extra quarter for every transaction will bring more jobs to the city? Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys want to hear from you. And if you are currently considering a bankruptcy means test as part of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure, contact our office today for a free consulation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Your Housing Market Concerns Are Justified

    Are you worried about the housing market? Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae, told the Chicago Tribune on October 10, 2011, that you have a right to be. “You have to think of recession scenarios,” Duncan said while in Chicago for the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention. “It’s a coin toss whether or not we have a recession. It’s hard to find a lot to be optimistic about.”

    On the same day of the Tribune story, a monthly consumer sentiment survey from Fannie Mae showed for the fourth consecutive month that a majority of consumers expect home prices to continue declining over the next year. The survey of 1,000 people found that the average annual anticipated price decline of 1.1 percent is the highest expected decline since at least September 2010, according to the Tribune. However, Duncan predicted that home prices of non-distressed properties will fall another 3 percent nationally through mid- 2012, and the anticipated decline would grow to 7 percent if foreclosures and short sales are factored into the equation.

    Have you been seeking foreclosure help ? Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers want you to know that a Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow you to eliminate, consolidate or reorganize your debt to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , our firm can answer all of your questions about the bankruptcy process and help you get deserved relief today.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • College Grads Learning Truth About Student Loans In Bankruptcy

    The standard to get rid of student loan debt in bankruptcy is “just exceptionally high,” Todd Brown told the Buffalo News in an article published on October 8, 2011. “Most other kinds of debt you don’t have to jump through those hoops,” said Brown, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo who practiced bankruptcy law.

    The Buffalo News story is another in the spate of articles about the increase in college graduates filing for bankruptcy. A study released by the Institute for Financial Literacy in September found that from 2006 to 2010, bankruptcy filings increased 21 percent among those holding a bachelor’s degree. Even if “a bachelor’s degree is the new high school degree,” the Buffalo News also noted that those with master’s degrees or higher rose at a similar rate.

    Even before the Financial Literacy study, CBS News reported on July 31, 2011, that bankruptcy is not an option for the more than 500,000 students who have defaulted on their student loans since 2008. The college graduate profiled by CBS is paying $160 per month on her federal loans and $800 per month toward a private loan, even though both loans were for the same amount of $40,000. Lauren Asher with The Institute for College Access and Success told CBS that private student loans are much more like a credit card or sub-prime mortgage as they tend to have variable rates and have no consumer protections. “Some people say it’s like graduating with a mortgage and you don’t have a house,” Asher said.

    Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest provider of educational loans in the United States, notes on their website that several laws were passed in the 1990s that made student loans ineligible for cancellation in bankruptcy. Before you even consider a bankruptcy means test , you should speak with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney to make sure that filing is in your best interest. Our firm strives to help all clients become debt free and credit rich, but recent college graduates should remember that neither Chapter 7 nor Chapter 13 bankruptcy will discharge your student loan debt unless you are physically unable to work. If you have additional questions, contact our office today to set up a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Chicago Business Owners More Pessimistic Than Optimistic

    Economic and job recovery will persist, and the slow pace of growth will be insufficient to make much progress in lowering Chicago’s high unemployment rate in the coming year, PNC Bank said in a new study. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 8, 2011, that small and midsize-business owners in Chicago are less optimistic about the economy and prospects of a recovery in the short term.

    After 23 percent of the 150 business owners surveyed in the spring said they were optimistic about their company’s prospects for the next six months, the most recent study found only 14 percent reported feeling optimistic. Conversely, the Tribune reported that 53 percent of participants interviewed between July 26 and Sept. 12 felt pessimistic about the local economy, compared with 39 percent in the spring.

    Furthermore, results also revealed that 38 percent of local business owners plan to raise their prices, and 92 percent of that group said they are doing so “to avoid a profit squeeze from higher costs,” according to the Tribune.

    Is this starting to sound familiar? Have you seen your income decrease while seemingly every other cost of living increases? You should know that if you are struggling through hard times, a bankruptcy means test can help you achieve an affordable bankruptcy now. Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can answer all of your questions surrounding the Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 processes and determine which filing will help you eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. If you want to get deserved relief today and end creditor harassment, contact our office now to set up a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers