Maywood is at the core of six west Cook County villages that have formed the West Suburban Housing Collaborative to fight foreclosures.
"If our communities were a wheel," Oak Park Village President David Pope said. "Maywood would be the hub."
Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview and Forest Park make up the rest of the communities involved with Oak Park and Maywood in the effort to access funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties.
Maywood was chosen as the leader, under the direction of Community Development Director Lori Summers.
Mayor Henderson Yarbrough said there were no boundaries in fighting crime or foreclosures and the collective strategy was necessary to stabilize housing throughout the six communities.
"The first problem with foreclosures is safety," he said. "Once a house is vacant some people, if they can get in, will go in and camp out.
"Neighbors don't like to see boards on windows; it affects property values throughout the neighborhood," Yarbrough said.
Also the houses often fall into disrepair and the grass grows wild, he said.
"We do have ordinances that will allow us to contact homeowners and if they refuse to do the lawn we can do it ourselves and charge the property," he said. "We'll do whatever we need to do because it's unfair for other people on the street."
With grants from county, state and federal sources, such as Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, villages can acquire abandoned or foreclosed properties, rehabilitate them and put them back on the market.
"Acquiring a home and making the necessary improvements will accelerate the process of getting it back into the hands of private owners who can afford to pay the mortgage for a long time," Pope said. "That will help strengthen the condition of the neighborhood and all our communities."
Yarbrough said Maywood is fortunate in that regard "because the homes are affordable and there are a lot of private investors who can buy them and put them back on the market."
For more information on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program visit HUD online at: www.hud.gov/nsp