Updated: March 7, 2013 6:44AM
As the headlines shift to a recovery in the housing market, with an increase in national home values and sales, it’s easy to forget that many of our friends and neighbors are still struggling through the bad economy. Last year, more than 28,000 Illinois families lost their homes, and the foreclosure rate here remains high.
Determining what options are available can be a daunting task. And when time is wasted, the amount required for a homeowner to bring his or her loan current can escalate quickly.
Gov. Pat Quinn launched the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN) last year to ensure that homeowners can efficiently and easily access all the resources they need in one place, free of charge from a reliable source. IFPN coordinates the efforts of various state agencies and non-profit organizations, providing a single point of entry for those seeking help.
The network simplifies access to counseling, legal advice and even provides financial assistance to qualifying homeowners. Since its launch a year ago, the network has connected more than 350,000 Illinois families to information and support; nearly 36,000 have been connected to counselors statewide and more than 6,000 have received critical financial assistance through the state’s Hardest Hit Program, helping to bring their mortgage current and keep it that way.
These services are vital to homeowners in need and are easily accessed through the IFPN website — www.keepyourhomeillinois.org — and toll-free helpline, 1-855-KEEP-411.
Let’s make 2013 a year of real recovery — not just for some but for all Illinois families. Access the resources that are available, and do it now. Preventing foreclosures is a critical step to keep our communities strong, our families healthy and the economic recovery moving forward.
Mary R. Kenney
Illinois Housing Development Authority
Scouts should remove ban on gays
I am writing in response to the recent announcement by the Boy Scouts of America that it may lift its ban against homosexual youth membership. It’s long overdue.
I am a member of a proud Scouting family — my grandfather, father and brother all are Eagle Scouts — and I cannot stress how important it is to allow homosexual boys into this organization. Scouts are the leaders of our communities, and to bar motivated and capable young men from membership because of something as trivial as their sexual preference is detrimental — not only to Scouting but also to our country.
In this time of uncertainty, Scouting more than ever needs to reach out to improve the lives of boys and their families, to teach them honor and dignity and compassion for others. Homosexuality is now a regular part of our modern lives, whether one likes it or not. To deny its existence or validity is to undermine the true meaning of Scouting.
While I thank the Boy Scouts of America for considering lifting this ban, I urge them to follow through and remove it. For this great organization to grow and thrive, this must happen.
Katherine L. Mannel