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Mayor John A. Ostenburg of Park Forest will serve on a panel discussing the topic “Clean It or Lien It: Dealing with Vacant and Blighted Properties” as part of the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Affordable Housing Feb. 21 and 22 at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.The panel is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 22.The conference is sponsored by the Illinois Housing Council (IHC) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).Others invited to serve on the panel are attorney Brent Denzin of the firm Ancel Glink; Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer,who also serves as chairperson for the Cook County Land Bank Authority (CCLBA); Geoff Smith of the DePaul Institute for Housing Studies; and Mayor Scott Eisenhower of Danville.Audra Hamernik of the IHDA staff will serve as moderator.According to information provided by IHC and IHDA, this workshop will deal with many issues faced by local governments in handling vacant and blighted properties. The session description explains that “While some municipalities and counties have bounced backafter the great recession, others continue to lag behind with vacant and blighted properties driving down neighboring home values. The creation of community land banks is gaining steam across Illinois to help finance the greening of abandoned properties and revitalization of struggling communities. Come see how the elimination of blight can help your community.”Mayor Ostenburg serves as secretary for the CCLBA and is a member of the Board of Directors. He also serves on the CCLBA Finance Committee and the CCLBA Land Transactions Committee. Under his leadership as mayor, Park Forest was one of three south suburban municipalities –including Blue Island and Oak Forest –creating the South Suburban Land Bank & Development Authority which now has more than 20 municipalities as members.The mayor has been active in housing and community development work at the national and regional levels, serving on committees of the National League of Cities (NLC), the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC), and the South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association (SSMMA) that deal with such issues. He serves on the MMC Executive Board, where he also holds the position of vice president. He is the immediate past president of the SSMMA and continues to serve on the Executive Committee.