(CBS) — Fifty-one-year-old Keith Grant is ready to start the new year in his new house. It’s the first the lifelong Chicagoan has ever owned.
“It’s such a wonderful feeling,” Grant tells CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov.
His house, in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side, sat vacant for years until the Cook County Land Bank Authority bought it, setting it on its path for redevelopment.
It is one of 200 homes in many hard-hit areas the Land Bank Authority has helped turn around since 2013.
Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer started the Land Bank with money from the mortgage foreclosure settlement. It’s now self-sustaining, with no tax dollars or grants used.
Gainer says working with small, local developers is a top priority.
“We’ve created wealth all throughout communities, because when someone owns their home, they’re building wealth for their future. When a local person has developed that home and built a business, that’s also building stability for the future, and we’re adding money to the tax rolls.”
The Land Bank’s executive director, Rob Rose, says they encourage developers to sell homes at below-market prices, which helps new homeowners get affordable mortgages. The Land Bank also sets high standards for developers, their plans and their materials.