• After Foreclosure Exited Stage Left, Writing Took Center Stage

    Stephanie and Bob Walker paid $799,000 for a three-bedroom house with a view of the Hollywood sign in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Three years later, the couple was in the Barrington home of Stephanie’s mother after spending a year trying to hang on to their California home.

    The monthly magazine Chicago reported on December 14, 2011, that the foreclosure process Stephanie called “an extremely depressing and really scary ordeal” has actually helped her career. Stephanie first began writing about that ordeal at her blog, Love in the Time of Foreclosure, and later published an e-book of the same name. This year a play she wrote about the foreclosure, entitled “American Home,” won a Blue Ink Award from American Blues Theater. Thus far, Chicago said the two-act play has had a staged reading that is part of the development process, but Stephanie told the magazine that American Blues may go on to produce a full-fledged production, and if not, she wants to pursue getting the play produced by another company.

    “We learned we’re resilient,” Stephanie told Chicago in 2009. “We learned not to be so attached to material things. We learned that we have each other.”

    For homeowners in need of foreclosure help , it can be hard to imagine life ever getting back to what it was like before there were mortgage problems. That type of personal shame makes it difficult for people to ask for help, let alone even consider options that could help them stay in their house, such as filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . However, the Walkers’ journey represents one way in which the foreclosed can use the experience for inspiration. Do you think your own story would make for a good play or movie? What would the title be?

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney

  • Will Cook County’s Copycat Ordinance Earn It Copycat Lawsuit?

    Despite the city of Chicago now facing federal lawsuit over the vacant building ordinance passed by the City Council in November, the Cook County Board decided to pass its own measure that “largely mirrors” the one adopted by the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune reported on December 14, 2011. The county ordinance would require a property’s mortgagee to pay $250 to list buildings as vacant on a countywide registry, whereas the Chicago ordinance involves a $500 property registration fee.

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, filed a lawsuit in federal court on December 12 against the city of Chicago, “charging that the city’s rules encroach on its role as the sole regulator and supervisor of Fannie and Freddie,” according to the Tribune. Despite that lawsuit, the Cook County measure passed without opposition.

    According to the Tribune, 10th District Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer told fellow commissioners, “When 75 percent of the mortgages in Cook County are owned by FHFA, allowing them to ignore their responsibilities to their own assets or our communities is impossible and a long-term disaster.”

    The Tribune also noted that Fannie and Freddie own about 258,000 mortgages within the city of Chicago. While these ordinances represent an honorable attempt to help the neighborhoods affected by vacancies, they will probably do little to help those needing foreclosure help and facing eviction.

    A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could help many of these troubled homeowners stay in their houses, but what do you think of Cook County passing an ordinance similar to Chicago’s even after it ended up being challenged in court? Do you expect the FHFA to sue the county as well?

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney