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Chicago program fills housing vacancies

A new Chicago program is turning vacant homes in the city into affordable rentals.

A new Chicago program is turning vacant homes in the city into affordable rentals.

Chicago citizens may be packing up soon to move into condo buildings that were once vacant in conjunction with a new program that aims to turn vacant buildings into affordable rentals.

With the housing market still in a downturn, Chicagoans are postponing plans of relocating and finding more cost-efficient options. The number of homes entering foreclosure is increasing and the number of apartment vacancies is decreasing as a result of the struggling economy.

During the third quarter of 2011, the number of homes entering foreclosure in the city was 21 percent higher than in the second quarter. According to the Chicago Tribune, there are an estimated 3 million homes with serious delinquent mortgages, are in foreclosure or have been repossessed and are now owned by banks.

The Community Investment Corporation, a non-profit lender in Chicago that has acted as a court-appointed receiver for a large portion of the properties, estimates it has found more than 250 buildings that may qualify for the program to fill up vacancies.

"We're trying to make use of these buildings instead of losing them," said John "Jack" Markowski, president of Community Investment Corp. "All we want to do is put the property back together and restore it back to the rental housing stock of the city."

Nationally, cities with the most foreclosures in 2011 were Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles.