New estimates from the Presiding Judge of the Cook County IL Chancery Court offer frightening statistics.
Here in Cook County, the county that includes the City of Chicago, an estimated 42,000 foreclosure proceedings will pass through the courts this year. That's a 47.8% increase over last year!
Skyrocketing foreclosures here in Cook County and Chicago IL take their psychological toll on everyone. Most importantly, the defaulting homeowners that lose their family home, their dignity, and a piece of their identity.
Also under the strain are, Cook County Chancery Court Judges, who find their dockets full with nearly double the number of foreclosure cases this year - an average of 6,000 for each of ten current judges dealing strictly with foreclosure matters.
The mortgage crisis here has also had an unforeseen effect in the number of foreclosure judges in Cook County Court. Recently, an additional four judges were added to handle the incredible increase in foreclosures today. This is a big indication that things are not only bad now - they are expected to become far worse very soon.
The increase in the judicial staff will reduce the per-judge workload to around 3,600 foreclosure cases - still an incredible amount of legal casework for such a personal, detailed matter.
Even after adding more judges, says Cook County Chancery Division Presiding Judge Dorothy Kinnaird, "These cases take at least 10 months to work their way through the system. We haven't even felt the full brunt of 2008. We're still feeling last year's foreclosures."
The Chancery Division handles all Cook County Foreclosures, from their courtrooms and offices on the 28th Floor of the Richard J. Daley Center across from City Hall, in The Chicago Loop.
Most homeowners facing foreclosure either don't have the desire to fight the action, or don't truly understand the process. Kinnaird estimates about 80% of all foreclosure cases here in Cook County go uncontested. Often times, those in the remaining 20% who do fight the foreclosure show up late in the game, just before a court-mandated Sheriff's Sale.
Although a judge can often delay a foreclosure proceeding even close to the public sale, very few of the defaulting homeowners who appear have the financial ability to renegotiate workout arrangements with their lenders at that time.
For one veteran Cook County judge, Judge Clifford Meacham, the vast increase in the number of foreclosures this year has taken a personal toll on him as well. "I know that money is important, and I really understand that banks are entitled to repossess homes. But that doesn't mean that I personally have to like it," said Meacham.
Meacham is retiring this month after about 20 years on the bench, and he admitted that his decision to retire was influenced in no small part by the growing number of home foreclosures here.
"The Chancery Division used to be a very deliberate process," said Judge Kinnard. The high volume of foreclosures has very much strained the system.
For more info, please read our post today at BlogChicagoHomes.com, with a link to Azam Ahmed's story in today's Chicago Tribune.
DEAN & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO