NEWS

 Toni Preckwinkle  attended  the Housing Authority of Cook County    homeownership workshop by South Town/Tribune.

Toni Preckwinkle  attended  the Housing Authority of Cook County    homeownership workshop and learn since its inception, nearly 100 residents have been assisted. Here’s news coverage from yesterday’s successful event: https://bit.ly/2KV54ph

eronica Willis said she “was touched by an angel” when she pulled up in front of a property that would eventually be her new home in Calumet City.

She was one of the success stories touted from the Housing Authority of Cook County’s program designed to help first-time homebuyers during an informational workshop Tuesday in Harvey.

Since the program was started in 2010, about 100 people have gone on to buy homes, with the majority of them purchasing properties in the south suburbs, according to the authority.

The Homeownership Program helps people prepare for what “can be a complicated process,” Richard Monocchio, the authority’s executive director, told the group of about 50 people.

“It’s not easy to do,” he said.

Willis and others who had successfully completed the program and bought homes told the audience about their own stories.

She broke down as she tried to talk about how the property she was in was sold out from under her this past January, and she was given 30 days to move out.

“I went through a lot,” she said.

Willis said she enrolled in the county program in February and moved into her house in April.

Annetha Weatherspoon moved into her newly renovated brick home in Calumet City on Thursday after living in a two-room apartment in that city. She said the house, which has new appliances, had been on the market about two weeks.

“I looked at the outside (of the home) and said ‘Oh my God, this is beautiful,’” she said.

Kenya Sutton told the audience she feels “empowered” owning a home. She bought her home in Chicago Heights in April 2018 after completing the county program.

“Each and every day I thank the Lord I’m a homeowner,” she said.

Speaking afterward, Sutton said her path to home ownership “definitely was a process” and involved “a lot of paperwork.”

“I knew it was going to happen eventually,” she said.

Leotha Scott, a housing counselor with the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, or CEDA, told the audience there are free services available to first-time buyers to “get you ready before you see a Realtor or loan officer.”

Scott said the process isn’t an easy one and there can be setbacks, but that a “setback does not mean you can’t make a comeback.”

Addressing the audience, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said that home ownership is “an important aspect of the American dream,” but that the path to ownership can be “difficult and sometimes confusing.”

The housing authority, citing national statistics, notes that home ownership among African Americans is at 41% compared with 71% for whites.

Speaking later with a reporter, Monocchio said the recession and predatory lending practices were among factors that have driven down the ownership rate for African Americans.

(the housing authority) are committed to increasing home ownership, especially among African Americans,” he said.

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