Chicago foreclosures have been surging in African-American neighborhoods, according to analysts working with the Woodstock Institute in Chicago.

In the West Englewood and Englewood neighborhoods, where the large majority of residents are African Americans, the pace of foreclosure is much intensified than in any other neighborhood in Chicago. A total of 725 foreclosures have been posted in the two neighborhoods during the nine-month period ended September this year.

According to housing advocates, more African Americans are facing foreclosures because a much larger percentage of blacks were given toxic types of loans compared to other groups.

Tom Feltner of Woodstock Institute said that foreclosure is driving a vicious cycle in which foreclosures cause the proliferation of vacant properties that push down home values, ultimately causing more foreclosures.

Margaret Harbin is just one among many African Americans in Chicago who is still at risk of foreclosure despite being helped by Neighborhood Housing Services because she has just lost her job.

African American neighborhoods are not the only ones facing foreclosure as everyone is affected. In the Chicago metro area, default and foreclosure notices were sent to owners of 18,541 residential properties in October, marking a staggering increase of 73 percent compared to September and a sharp jump of 63 percent compared to October last year.

According to real estate analysts who compiled foreclosures in Chicago, the major factors driving Chicago foreclosures were negative equity, high unemployment and risky mortgage loans. In October, the jobless rate in Chicago climbed up to 10.3 percent from 10.1 percent in September.

As the pace of foreclosures increased, house prices decreased, dropping by 20 percent or more over the past 24 months. In the most recent report on foreclosures from a California-based real estate research firm, foreclosure actions in the Chicago metro area in November soared by a stunning 107 percent compared to November last year.

Statewide, the pace of foreclosure activity stepped up by almost 108 percent from November last year to a rate of one foreclosure for every 319 households in the state. The pace however slowed by almost 18 percent compared to the previous month. A total of 16,422 filings were filed, including 8,524 lis pendens and almost 2,900 trustee sale notices. Included in the total were more than 5,000 homes that were already foreclosed and repossessed by mortgage lenders.

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