Program geared to help curb foreclosures in Peoria area

By WEEK Reporter

August 5, 2013 Updated Aug 6, 2013 at 9:39 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The head of METEC, a local housing counseling agency, says there needs to be more collaboration with Peoria city officials to keep foreclosures down in the river city.

One major issue is people who need the help the most are not showing up.

64-year-old Murion Burse's wife Jeanette passed away last year after a brief illness leaving the retiree with one social security check instead of two to pay the monthly mortgage. The retired truck driver fell behind on his house payments.

"I didn't expect to be in the position that I was in, I hadn't planned to be. I was too busy planning businesses. I went through my 401K, my IRA's trying to go back to school, burnt up my savings pretty good," said Burse.

Burse said his mortgage company told him about METEC, a housing counseling resource agency that works to help residents facing foreclosure.

METEC Executive Director Cheryll Boswell said even though the economy may be recovering there are still too many people in Peoria's south side, like Murion Burse, facing foreclosure.

"We have over 180 people so far this year that have sought our services for foreclosures. Now we are seeing some stabilization there but there still is a need to address the foreclosures that are going on in Peoria," said Boswell.

According to figures from the Peoria County Recorder of Deeds, there were 906 foreclosures in Peoria's south side between 2010 and 2012.

During that same time, there were 472 foreclosures in central Peoria.

Peoria Community Development Director Ross Black said the city is aware of the problem but said shrinking federal dollars have reduced the annual housing and urban development grant by $500,000.

"It certainly is an area that needs a lot of attention but so are other areas of the city, the East Bluff, the West Bluff the near North Side," said Black. "Does a million dollars make a difference? It makes a difference for the property owner or someone who doesn't have heat in the middle of the winter."

Boswell said even though the south side was hardest hit by foreclosures, many of the people who sought help were from outside of the city.

She is concerned that people are not getting the word about programs. Murion Burse said he would have found METEC even if he had to do so himself.

"It's a worthwhile program. The past eight years have proven to people it doesn't matter how much money you make, you'll end up dead broke tomorrow morning. We don't have control over our circumstances," said Burse.

For more information on the foreclosure counseling program call (309) 676-3832 or follow the link above.

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