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Thomas J. Dart
November 19, 2008
Testimony of Sheriff Tom Dart Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
Good morning, Senator Durbin, Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Specter, and committee members.
I'm here today because of the bold stand we took in Cook County, to stop all mortgage foreclosure evictions. It was the first move of its kind in the country and one that drew national attention to the crisis faced by so many Americans. That growing crisis in our county couldn't be ignored any longer and a drastic step had to be taken.
When I took office just two years ago, there were 18,916 mortgage foreclosure cases filed in Cook County. This year, we project 43,000 will be filed. And when I took office, we were evicting 1,771 families from their homes due to foreclosures. This year, we are on track to evict 4,500 families.
But we stopped all foreclosure evictions until protections could be built into the system. The result of that stand was the creation of new layers of protections for those living in foreclosed homes, as well as for taxpayers. But it was a solution that worked only for Cook County. It was a band aid that has helped problems locally, but what remains is a dire need for a more systemic solution.
Sen. Durbin's plan to allow for the restructuring of mortgage debt during a bankruptcy proceeding is exactly the type of bold stand American homeowners need.
And it's clear from the economy, as well as the continuing rise in foreclosure cases, that the time for talking has long passed. A solution - a bold stand - is needed now.