The Great Recession is over. That does not mean that everything is just fine in Illinois. Many find themselves in financial difficulty that threatens to see them put out of their homes. Leveraging legal strategies to prevent foreclosure, or at least gain some time to examine all options, is something that is available. First, you have to know what’s possible and consulting experienced legal counsel is how that’s done.

The issue is a serious one. According to reports on the state of foreclosures in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2016, nearly 12 percent of all properties under mortgage are now in foreclosure. That’s down overall from previous quarters. In Illinois, the rates are generally higher. Indeed, Illinois ranks sixth out of the top 10 states. Nearly one in every 1,000 homes is affected. Some communities south of Chicago are in said to be in particularly dire condition.

It is in this environment that the Illinois Housing Development Authority recently announced the revival of a federally supported assistance program. The Hardest Hit Fund has been a state of relative stasis for the past couple of years after running out of money in 2013, but it recently obtained an infusion of another $270 million in federal funds.

The program makes forgivable loans of up to $35,000 to help distressed homeowners. But not everyone qualifies. Applicants have to be able to show that their income has declined by at least 15 percent due to economic conditions – job loss, divorce, or death of a spouse.

Promoters stress that those who wonder if they might be eligible for the program can turn to the state for help making a determination. However, just because you might be eligible doesn’t mean that using the Hardest Hit Fund is the right way to go. Other and better alternatives may exist, and obtaining a free initial consultation with a skilled bankruptcy attorney still makes sense.