Bridget Gainer, Cook County Commissioner – Tenth District
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Foreclosure & Land Bank

Cook County Land Bank Receives $6 million from National Foreclosure Settlement
July 17, 2013

Contact Information 

July 17, 2013 


Statement by Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer 
 - Chairwoman of the Cook County Land Bank Authority Board of Directors 
Cook County Land Bank Receives $6 million from National Foreclosure Settlement 

CHICAGO - Today, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that the Cook County Land Bank Authority is the recipient of $6 million from Illinois' portion of the national foreclosure settlement. This major funding announcement means the Cook County Land Bank can now operationalize its mission and objective to return vacant and abandoned property back to productive and sustainable uses. I want to thank Attorney General Madigan for her work obtaining the historic $25 billion national settlement last year with the country's five largest bank mortgage servicers. I also want to thank all of the members of Attorney General Madigan's Advisory Council. 

While not a silver bullet, the Cook County Land Bank is our region's first and the country's largest, single purpose entity whose sole focus is to spur economic development by clearing obstacles to redevelopment and reuse throughout the County and in partnerships with local communities struggling under the weight of foreclosure. 

For more information on the CCLBA, please visit the website at


President Preckwinkle Names Cook County Land Bank Authority Board of Directors
February 8, 2013

Office of the Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle 

February 5, 2013 

President's Press Office 
(312) 603-2821 

President Preckwinkle Names Cook County Land Bank Authority Board Of Directors 
Some funding already secured; County also seeking funds from 
Illinois Attorney General's Foreclosure Settlement 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today the members of the Cook County Land Bank Authority's Board of Directors, which will oversee the work of the land bank's efforts to return vacant properties to productive use. 

The board is comprised of a diverse group of professionals with expertise in a variety of fields, including housing, open space, real estate and commercial development to ensure the land bank authority can be nimble in responding to market demands. 

"The land bank will be an important planning tool in the economic revitalization of the County's most blighted neighborhoods," President Preckwinkle said. "We have identified a diverse and dedicated group who will work to redevelop vacant and abandoned properties to put them back on the tax rolls." 

The Chicago Community Trust approved a $149,000 grant to underwrite start-up activities of the Cook County Land Bank Authority including recruiting staff, developing a business plan, creating program and operating policies and procedures, building a website, and other operational activities. The grant also secured the costs of technical assistance provided by the Center for Community Progress (CCP), the premier land bank experts in the country. The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development is preparing to submit a $20 million grant proposal to the Illinois Attorney General's office for capital from the National Foreclosure Settlement to assist in funding the initial phases of the Land Bank Authority's work. 

The members of the Land Bank Authority Board of Director's are: 
  • Bridget Gainer, Cook County Commissioner (D-10th) 
  • Jeffrey Sherwin, Mayor - City of Northlake 
  • Lawrence Grisham, Managing Deputy Commissioner - Chicago Department of Housing & Economic Development 
  • Herman Brewer, Bureau Chief - Cook County Bureau of Economic Development
  • Calvin Holmes - Chicago Community Loan Fund 
  • Carl A. Jenkins - Harris North America 
  • Sarah L. Ware - The Carter Ware Group, Inc. 
  • Stephen Porras - Axia Development 
  • Emy Brawley - Openlands 
  • Julie Dworkin, Policy Director - Chicago Coalition for the Homeless  
Bridget Gainer co-sponsored the ordinance creating the Cook County Land Bank Authority. Commissioner Gainer has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors and her career has provided her a strong foundation in finance, human services and the workings of local government. 

Jeffrey Sherwin is the Mayor of the City of Northlake. Previously, Mayor Sherwin was a private practice attorney focusing on real estate matters. Sherwin has served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Mayors, President of the West Central Municipal Conference, Chairman of the North Central Council of Mayors and Chairman of the Lower Des Plaines Advisory Committee. 

Lawrence Grisham manages the Housing Bureau of the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development. He co-manages the department and oversees the department's affordable housing programs and activities. This includes multi-family rental projects, single-family purchase and rehab assistance, foreclosure prevention and mitigation programs, and housing preservation efforts. 

Herman Brewer is the Bureau Chief for the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development. He previously served as the bureau's Director of Capital Planning & Community Development departments. Before joining Cook County, Brewer served as Executive Vice President of the Chicago Urban League, managing daily operations and program areas. Brewer also served in several capacities with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) including Program Vice President with the national office and as a senior officer. 

Calvin L. Holmes is the President of the Chicago Community Loan Fund (CCLF). Under his leadership, CCLF's lending has leveraged nearly $900 million in additional public- and private-sector capital in over 60 lower wealth Chicagoland communities, over 6,700 units, and more than 2.4 million square feet of community and commercial/retail space. In addition, CCLF has solidified its position as a leading early-stage lender for community developers, a primary lender for affordable housing cooperatives and social enterprises and a principal promoter of sustainable development in metropolitan Chicago. 

Carl A. Jenkins is Vice President and Director of Community Investments for Harris N.A., the $50 billion U.S. banking subsidiary of BMO Financial Group. He oversees investments through equity and debt partnerships to finance real estate development and business expansion. Jenkins also manages over $100 million of third party investments in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. He previously served as a commercial real estate lender for BMO Capital Markets and Harris' Community Development team. 

Sarah L. Ware is a principal and managing broker at The Carter Ware Group, Inc., a real estate firm that specializes in property sales, purchases and management; market research; and management consulting for investors or real estate assets. Ware represents private equity firms, non-profit institutions, public/government entities, and individual buyers and sellers of residential and commercial real estate and has developed and implemented creative sales techniques and innovative marketing strategies for Chicago's changing real estate market. 

Stephen Porras is the founder of Axia Development, Inc. Porras has served in primary and sub-consulting roles to for-profit and non-profit developers and public housing authorities seeking to undertake affordable rental housing development. Porras has also helped urban planning firms develop neighborhood economic development strategies and municipal governments seek to forge successful public-private partnerships for the development of workforce housing. 

Emy Brawley serves as Director of Land Preservation for Openlands, a regional leader in conservation. Previously, she lived in Colorado, where she managed transactions and projects for the county's sales-tax-funded open space program. Brawley has represented local governments, non-profit conservation organizations, and private individual and corporate landowners, primarily in real estate matters. Brawley also serves as Treasurer of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition, the statewide coalition of Illinois land trusts. 

Julie Dworkin is the Director of Policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), an advocacy organization that works to address the root causes of homelessness. Dworkin worked on a statewide legislative campaign called "It Takes a Home to Raise a Child" to prevent and reduce family homelessness. The campaign passed legislation that resulted in a statewide homelessness prevention program that has kept more than 100,000 families in Illinois from becoming homeless, a statewide rental subsidy program to provide affordable housing for 2,500 households, and $134 million in the state capital budget for housing. She also co-led a Chicago housing campaign that resulted in the passage of an ordinance dedicating TIF funds for the redevelopment of foreclosed properties as affordable housing. 


Cook County, IL Votes to Create Largest Land Bank in the Nation
January 16, 2013

It is with great excitement that I announce the passage of the Cook County Land Bank Ordinance. Today, by a unanimous vote, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the creation of what will be the largest land bank in the Country. With your help and support we have changed the way our local governments can respond to foreclosures and vacant buildings. 

A Cook County Land Bank is not a silver bullet, but will give the County the ability to execute a comprehensive plan to address not just the vacant homes, but the communities that surround them. The land bank will incentivize development, promote sustainable homeownership and create rental opportunities, all while keeping for communities at the table for the planning and redevelopment of their communities. The Cook County Land Bank is designed to address vacant and abandoned buildings regionally, and will be the thread that connects foreclosure programs throughout the County, State and Federal levels. Instead of layering demolition, rehab, rental or disposition programs on top of each other the Land Bank will leverage the scale of the problem to the size of the market. 

The issues around vacancy and foreclosure have changed dramatically in the last decade, but are still fighting the last war with old tools. As our housing market evolves the solutions need to as well. I have been honored to work with such a diverse, interesting and dedicated group of colleagues who have helped move the land bank forward. I look forward to continuing to work with you all as we make the land bank a successful reality. 


Bridget Gainer 
Cook County Commissioner - Tenth District 
118 North Clark Street, Room 567 Chicago, IL 60602 

From Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, City of Chicago:
"I applaud President Preckwinkle and Commissioner Gainer for their leadership in dealing with vacant properties. The land bank will provide another tool to strategically bring vacant buildings into productive use in cities and towns throughout Cook County."

From Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County:
"I've been to every corner of Cook County, and I've seen first-hand how municipalities struggle to return vacant properties to their tax rolls. This landmark ordinance will help the County combat the foreclosure crisis that has decimated communities. We are going to work hand-in-hand with communities throughout the County to ensure the Land Bank Authority is effective and sustainable."

Read the full text of the approved Cook County Land Bank Ordinance:
Additional Resources
Statements of Support
Cook County Land Bank Ordinance in the News
By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, January 15 2013 

By: Lisa Donovan, January 15 2013

By: Judith Ruiz-Branch, January 15 2013 

By: Tony Sarabia, January 15 2013 

By: John Presta, January 16 2013 

By: Ted Cox, January 16 2013

By: Dave Lee Mathews, January 17 2013

By: Christina Mlynski, January 18 2013

By: Ashlee Rezin, February 7 2013

MPC & ULI Chicago Roundtable: "Cook County Land Bank: Returning Vacant Land to Productive Use"
January 15, 2013

Hosted by the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Urban Land Institute Chicago, the roundtable considered the vision for a countywide land bank and how this innovative tool can be deployed to remove redevelopment barriers and jumpstart economic development. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, myself, Scott Goldstein of Teska Associates, and Jim Rokakis of the Thriving Communities Institute discussed the creation of the county land bank ordinance and how the newly-approved Cook County Land Bank Authority compares to similar efforts outside of Illinois.

Cook County Land Bank Proposal
January 14, 2013

Statement from Commissioner Bridget Gainer - July 24, 2012
           "I am happy to report Cook County is moving forward with an initiative to create what will be the nation's largest land bank. The resolution, sponsored by myself and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to establish an advisory committee was approved at today's Cook County Board meeting. With a strong focus on collaboration with Suburban Cook County and on economic growth opportunities, the Advisory Committee will set the implementation strategy for the launch of a Cook County Land Bank.

            The most recent census data shows that 9.16% or 199,778 housing units are currently vacant in Cook County and according to a recent New York Times article Cook County has the largest inventory of foreclosed property in the nation. "The data shows that the ripple effects of the foreclosure disaster spread further every day, even in our most stable communities. As the impact continues to grow, so too does the need to match the scope of the solution, to the size of the impact.

            As a Commissioner on the Cook County Board, I have seen firsthand how far and fast the problem of the foreclosure crisis is spreading. What was 15,000 foreclosure fillings in 2005 has quickly exploded to 80,000. Every day we see the ramifications of one of the worst housing crisis many of us have ever witnessed. This is not an issue contained by ward boundaries, city limits or county districts. We must employ these resources in a meaningful and organized methods to reinforce positive growth and development. As housing problems continue to grow, so too does the scope of solution. This is a regional problem that must be met head on through a Cook County Land Bank.

            The resolution directs Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to appoint a wide variety of suburban stakeholders and industry experts to the Advisory Board within 60 days. Subsequently, the Advisory Board will have until mid-November 2012 to create an implementation plan for a Cook County Land Bank.

            I would like to thank everyone who has been supportive of this initiative especially, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, West Cook County Housing Collaborative, West Central Municipal Conference, Northwest Municipal Conference, South Suburban Mayors and Managers, Bank of America, Chase, Woodstock Institute, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI), Chicago Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation, Lakeside Community Development Corporation, Spanish Coalition for Housing, Community Partners for Affordable Housing, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, Brinshore Development, Metropolitan Planning Council, Illinois Development Services Corporation and Oppidan USA."

Statements of Support
Read the full proposal: 
Background Information on the proposal: 
June 19, 2012 Resolution for Cook County Land Bank Advisory Committee:
The New York Times recently cited Cook County as having largest inventory of foreclosed property in the nation. Based on the most recent census 9.16% or 199,778 housing units are currently vacant in Cook County. In addition, there are an estimated 78,014 foreclosures cases currently pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, an almost 300% increase since 2005, of which 90% end in default judgments, where the homeowner does not appear in court. To address the current vacancies and the coming tidal wave of vacant buildings in our future I propose the creation of a Cook County Land Bank. The purpose of a land bank is not only to return vacant and foreclosed property back to active and reliable tax paying status, but also to be a catalyst to foster quality economic and affordable housing developments that will provide long-term community stabilization, revitalization and preservation.
This is a map which shows the borders of Cook ...

This is a map which shows the borders of Cook County, Illinois and the borders of its townships. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cook County Land Bank proposal lays out the establishment and implementation of a regional Land Bank. This new entity as proposed does not require State action; the powers enumerated in this proposal are already established in existing State Statute regarding home-rule authority. A Land Bank will build on, organize and administer the tools and resources that have been established by all different levels of government to try and address vacant buildings.

While a Land Bank can do many things, one of its strongest tools allows for sustainable and reliable planning for affordable housing. Cook County, the City and State depend on unreliable federal funds via HOME and LITC for affordable housing. In one of the most dynamic and proactive measures around affordable housing, 12 other states, including Michigan, Ohio, California and New York have used the tools provided for within a land bank as an alternative to conventional affordable housing infrastructure opportunities. In addition to affordable housing, the proposal below lays out a plan to incorporate a comprehensive scattered site rental program, further building on the critical resources hardest hit communities need. A Countywide Land Bank allows for regional equity redisposition whereby it can successfully leverage inventory to positively impact stabilization in hardest hit communities.

In addition, a Countywide Land Bank allows the County and suburban communities to take an active role, without private investor markups, to recapture the homes that left local communities through foreclosure. Homes that are owned by banks are currently being sold to private investors who see the ability to profit from local devastation. These private investors have no accountability to our local communities planning needs or wants. A Cook County Land Bank can hold property for communities until long term plans can be established.

Finally, a Countywide Land Bank allows for regional economic development opportunities. A Countywide Land Bank can incentivize economic growth. Historically, the amount of time and money it takes to assemble parcels of land in older communities has often dissuaded developers and businesses; a Countywide land bank can acquire, hold, and transfer properties to provide communities and the County the tools to prepare underutilized land for investors.

A Cook County Land Bank, designed to address vacant and abandoned buildings regionally will be the thread that connects similar County, State and Federal programs together. Instead of each level of government layering demolition, rehab, rental or disposition programs on top of each other without leveraging the scale of the problem to the size of the market, a land bank can go directly to the core problems communities are facing; vacant and abandoned properties; depreciating home values and the need for comprehensive and sometimes sweeping planning for reuse.

Additional Resources

New Clips 
"Cook County Land Bank one step away from creation" - Chicago Tribune
By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, January 15 2013

"County edges closer to buying up vacant, foreclosed properties" - Chicago SunTimes
By: Lisa Donovan, January 15 2013

"Cook County one step closer to tackling looming foreclosure problem" - WBEZ
By: Judith Ruiz-Branch, January 15 2013

"ULI Chicago Panel of Experts Issue Recommendations for a County-Wide Land Bank" - ULI Chicago News

"Cook County considers land bank to help solve housing woes" - HousingWire
By: Christina Mlynski

"Land bank would revitalize distressed properties" - Chicago Tribune
By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, November 30 2012

"Cook County moves closer to creating land bank"
By: David Lee Mathews, July 24 2012

"Cook County takes steps towards establishing land bank" - Chicago Tribune
By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, July 24 2012

"Cook County land bank committee to be proposed" - Chicago Tribune
By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, June 19 2012

"County official see values in 'land bank' of foreclosed properties" - Chicago Sun Times
By: David Roeder, May 22 2012 

News Release: "President Preckwinkle & Commissioner Gainer Introduce Ordinance Creating A Cook County Land Bank"
December 19, 2012

December 18, 2012 

Board President's Press Office 
(312) 254-6211 

Commissioner Gainer's Office 
(312) 603-4210 

President Preckwinkle and Commissioner Gainer Introduce Ordinance 
Creating A Cook County Land Bank 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer today introduced legislation creating a Cook County Land Bank Authority, that will be tasked with acquiring vacant and abandoned properties throughout the region to seek to return them to productive use. 

The Cook County Land Bank Authority, created under the County's home rule authority, is designed to address the critical problems facing communities as a result of the foreclosure crisis. It will ultimately serve as the main tool used by state and local governments to address foreclosure. Its initial focus will be on three key areas related to neighborhood stabilization: demolition of blighted properties, property maintenance, and the establishment of a single-family rental program. 

"A Cook County land bank is a critical step towards stemming the foreclosure crisis in our communities and protecting residents in a difficult economy," President Preckwinkle said. "By returning vacant and abandoned property to productive use, we can eradicate blight in distressed neighborhoods, promote open spaces and improve property values for homeowners. This is an important step towards strengthening our housing market, and one of my top priorities in the coming year." 

As the Cook County Land Bank Authority becomes fully functional, it is expected to derive funding from a range of sources including County money, grants from foundations, and in-kind support from stakeholders. 

"From the first calls I received three years ago from constituents going through foreclosure to the passage of the vacant building ordinance in 2011 to today's introduction of what will be the largest land bank in the country, Cook County is evolving from reactive regulation to proactive economic development," said Gainer (D-10th). "The Cook County Land Bank will be an essential tool in breaking the grip of vacancy and foreclosure on our region." 

The Land Bank Authority will be governed by a 13-member Board of Directors. President Preckwinkle and Mayor Rahm Emanuel will each appoint one representative. A Cook County Commissioner, two local elected officials from suburban Cook County and other individuals who represent groups such as banking, real estate, development and open spaces also will serve on the board. The Board of Directors will be unpaid. 

The introduction of the ordinance creating the Land Bank came after months of work consideration and analysis from the County's Land Bank Advisory Council, a group created by President Preckwinkle that submitted detailed recommendations to the County on the role, structure and governance of a Cook County Land Bank. The group was chaired by Mary Sue Barrett, President of the Metropolitan Planning Council. 

There will be a public meeting on the proposed ordinance January 15, 2013 in the Cook County Board Room. 


HousingWire: "Cook County considers land bank to help solve housing woes"
December 14, 2012

By: Christina Mlynski

Land Bank Update
November 1, 2012

Land banks are popping up all over the Country - last week Philadelphia, this week Kansas City, and hopefully Cook County will be next. Learn more 

Kansas City Star: "[Governor] Nixon signs Kansas City land bank legislation" 
By: Jason Hancock
"Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Monday authorizing Kansas City to establish a land bank to deal with vacant and abandoned properties. The law allows the land bank to acquire vacant properties and set them aside for rehab or resale so that they can be put back on the tax rolls. Currently, properties that are in such a state of disrepair that they go unsold at tax sale auctions are turned over to the Land Trust of Jackson County. But the trust has no budget to maintain or fix the properties. Of the roughly 700 properties it has acquired this year, it has sold fewer than 50. The land bank will 'be able to rehab vacant homes and turn deserted buildings into a viable asset for economic development,' said Nixon, who was in Kansas City to attend baseball's All-Star Game. 'This legislation gives the city the ability to replace deterioration with innovation and build a brighter future for all its residents.'" 
  • To continue reading, click here.
NewsWorks: "Land bank law expected to help reclaim blighted properties in Pennsylvania"
By: Elizabeth Fiedler
"Pennsylvania housing advocates are claiming victory as Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill giving local governments the green light to establish 'land banks.' Supporters say the measure will help get rid of blighted, abandoned and tax foreclosed properties. Liz Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, said the new law is the culmination of a five-year effort to get land banks established in the state. 'It becomes a land bank's job to take... donated parcels; to take blighted, vacant and abandoned property; get clear title; create an inventory; and get it back on the market for reuse,' she explained."
  • To continue reading, click here.
To learn more about the Cook County Land Bank Proposal:
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