By Derrick Blakley

(CBS) — New figures show Chicago’s housing crisis is far from over.

Last year in our area, more than 35,000 homes completed the foreclosure process — the most since the housing downturn began.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley found a south suburban company that’s turning the foreclosure crisis into an opportunity by creating new homes out of old.

Since October, Tomora Latham and her family have been living in a four-bedroom home in Country Club Hills — a home that stood foreclosed and empty for months.

“Oh my gosh, it was a mess,” Latham says of the original condition.

Jim McClelland wasn’t deterred. His Mack Companies has bought more than 1,000 foreclosed houses, renovated them and rented them out to new tenants.

Mack renovates 30 to 40 homes at a time, usually within six weeks, using their own plumbers, electricians and carpenters. The company consumes supplies so fast, Mack is the single biggest customer at Menards.

“When you’re doing the same thing to all the homes, it’s almost like an assembly line,” Eric Workman says.

It’s a process that raises property taxes for governments, property values for neighbors and raises new hope for renters, who have the option to buy the houses.

“I hated they lost their home or whatever,” Latham says of the previous owner. “But I’m glad to be in it. I value the home, and I’m very pleased here.”

McClelland says it will take another five years to work through the backlog of foreclosed properties in the Chicago area.

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