Since joining BPI two years ago, Robbie has been working to correct many of the housing problems that have plagued Chicago in recent years, particularly in Cook County. In addition to aiding homeowners facing foreclosure, BPI focuses on the foreclosures of multifamily housing unites, which affect not only thousands of renters throughout Chicago but also local communities as well. According to Robbie, over the last few years foreclosures have impacted 97,000 rental units in the county, and last year alone the city spent $15 million on vacant property upkeep and demolition. "Many of these tenants have religiously paid their rent on time every month," Robbie says. However, they are forced out of their homes due to the landlords' defaults.
"Our first step is to keep families in their homes right now by reducing the number of foreclosures," Robbie says. "But Chicago remains at the epicenter of the vacant property crisis, so we're also focusing on the future of the community by ensuring vacant properties are well-maintained and eventually converted from neighborhood liabilities to community assets."
Working with local coalitions, Robbie and BPI currently are creating Cook County's first "land bank." Funded by grants and donations from banks that want to eliminate foreclosed properties from their books, the land bank will help manage the vacant space so it can be resold and converted into gardens, retail space and affordable housing.