Millions of dollars sitting in taxpayer funded account aren't being utilized properly

For Fanny Sanchez, the dream of home ownership has become a bit of a nightmare. Not only is the basement of her Belmont Cragin home leaking water, the windows are old and drafty and she's in dire need of a new AC unit.

Problem is, she doesn't have money to fix it.

Across town, Cindy Rice is having holes patched in her living room, just one of several much-needed home repairs. But Cindy’s also short on cash. 

There is a solution to their problems: millions of dollars sitting in a taxpayer funded account.

Julio Rodriguez with nonprofit Northwest Side Housing Center" told FOX 32 about the fund.

"This is money that's there, right now, that can be utilized. This is homeowners accessing their money,” Rodriguez said.

Here's what he's talking about. Back in the early 90s, the Northwest Side saw an influx of new homeowners. But there were concerns that real estate values might fall. 

Enter the “Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program” - a local tax levy designed to reimburse homeowners who sold their homes for less than they paid for them.

Turns out, real estate values didn't fall and the fund has grown.

In fact, now there's close to ten million dollars in there. And last year - Governor Rauner signed legislation that cleared the way for the funds to be used as interest-free loans for home improvement projects -  and to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

But there's just one problem, nothing has happened since.

Adding insult to injury, the fund is losing money.

FOX 32 obtained a copy of an independent audit showing more than 100-thouand dollars going to cover the payroll alone.

We reached out to program director Robin Larson but she declined to talk to us, saying to check back next year.

In the meantime, homeowners like Cindy and Fanny will have to rely on their own money to make repairs.

The board is supposed to meet monthly but hasn't met since May, according to the program's website.

The next meeting will be in December and is open to the public.

And we'll check back with Larson after the first of the year and let you know what she says.

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