CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County is launching a new program that will allow more people to become homeowners.

“The Homebuyer Direct Program will now allow us to sell directly to homeowners,” said Robert Rose, executive director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority. “We are able to take these fixer uppers and offer them to homeowners to below market prices, give them a chance to build equity, and to customize it to make it their own.”

Rose is showing a new property at 7627 Merrill Ave. in the South Shore Neighborhood that sat vacant for nearly five years.

for sale Cook County Launches New Home Buying Program

(Photo: Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

“This is one of the gut rehabs that needed to be sold to a developer who came in and did a wonderful job, redid the roof, changed the layout of the house — wonderful high quality finishes, contemporary colors. We really made it a house that people really want to live in,” Rose said.

“This was not a beginner rehab. The house was in pretty bad shape — a lot of water damage and mold. We took all the walls out, we took all the floors out, the basement out, the roof was redone. Everything is new,” said Lavise Giles, GOA Enterprises Development. “We’re selling this one for $329,000.”

boys Cook County Launches New Home Buying Program

Robert Rose, left, Lavise Giles, right. (Photo: Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

Traditionally, CCLBA has sold delinquent, vacant or abandoned properties to developers. This new initiative lets CCLBA reach out directly to the home buyers, who then can guide the development process and in turn transform neighborhoods.

“As you drive on this block, you’ll notice this is a stable block. This was the only distressed house, but that one house can bring the neighborhood down. This is the house that needed to be targeted. Foreclosure took 600-900 days and then it was left vacant — and it’s left open to vandalism, crime and that nature. And although the banks are supposed to secure it, the banks weren’t doing that so this house fell victim to all those things,” Rose said.

As part of launching this program, the Land Bank will give away a fully rehabbed single-family home in Auburn Gresham.

kitchen Cook County Launches New Home Buying Program

(Photo: Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

“We are giving away a house to hook people into learning more about the Homebuyer program. This home will be available for families, large enough, near transit. We’ll be revealing the address in November and hope to give it away in December,” said Rose.

To apply to win the home, visit the company site, or apply in person at 69 W. Washington, 29th Floor and fill out an entry form. Entries will be taken starting Oct. 2nd.

“We’re a young agency, but we’re trying to do our part to help revitalize these neighborhoods. We think this is one way to do it to get people excited about home ownership. We’re focused on transforming neighborhood and improving lives through home ownership.”

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