Senators Durbin, Kirk announce reopening of mortgage assistance program

CHICAGO -- Illinois’ Republican and Democratic U.S. senators are teaming up in an effort to fight the foreclosure crisis.

Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Mark Kirk joined together Friday to announce the re-opening of a program to help struggling homeowners

Kirk even joked that the two are “bi-partisan partners in crime.”

The program is called the Illinois Hardest Hit. It's funded by the U.S. treasury.

The program is designed to provide assistance to people who are having trouble making their mortgage payments because they've lost a job, fallen ill or suffered a disability through no fault of their own.

"This is a program that probably spends money and makes money because it maintains real estate value for those folks, and makes sure those seniors are not trapped without retirement savings," said Kirk.

"We’re going to provide a helping hand, we’re going to provide some resources to people who are going through a tough transition," said Durbin. "Ultimately a foreclosed home is not just a family’s problem, it’s a neighborhood problem it’s a city problem, it’s a state and nation’s problem."

According to statistics from Senator Durbin’s office, 14 percent of Illinois homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, in other words they owe more than their homes are worth.

In Chicago, that number is 20 percent.  That's the highest in the nation, even worse than Las Vegas.

The program can provide eligible people with $35,000 dollars to get back on their feet.

One mother took advantage of the program after losing her job.

“I was able to get back on my feet, gain employment, save my home, and it’s just a wonderful thing. I was able to be a better mother with that stress being off of me," said  Illinois Hardest Hit client Torian Anderson.

The program will begin accepting applications again on August first. It is available through the Illinois Housing Authority.

Senator Durbin says the program  gives people a second chance and a fighting chance to stay in their homes.