Expert Testimony

Woodstock staff is regularly invited to present expert testimony before the local, state, and federal legislatures, as well as regulatory agencies.
May 5, 2016

Testimony of Brent Adams before the Senate Insurance Committee. In this testimony Adams discussed banning the use of credit scoring in establishing auto insurance rates.

January 25, 2016

Testimony of Spencer Cowan before the Senate Financial Institutions Committee. In this testimony Cowan discussed the lack of access to capital for many small businesses in Illinois and the prevalence of online-predatory lenders.

July 15, 2015

Testimony of Katie Buitrago before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Field Hearing on Student Loans. In this testimony Buitrago discussed the impact for-profit colleges have on students’ economic opportunities, with these students graduating with more debt and fewer job opportunities. 

October 23, 2013

Testimony of Spencer Cowan before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau field hearing on the impact of the Credit CARD Act. Cowan thanked the CFPB for enforcement actions against credit card issuers and urged them to assess the pricing of add-on products and restrict up-front fees. Cowan also recommended that the CFPB enact consumer protections for all high-cost small-dollar loans, including installment loans and auto title loans.

April 11, 2013

Testimony of Spencer Cowan before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau field hearing on its consumer complaint database discussing how the data could be used and how it should be expanded to include the critical elements of fair lending analysis.

January 16, 2013

Testimony of Dory Rand before the Finance Committee of the Cook County Board of Commissioners in support of the Cook County Land Bank Authority. Woodstock Institute research shows that distressed, vacant properties are significantly more likely to be concentrated in communities of color and low-wealth communities. A land bank is necessary for stabilizing vacant homes and recovering from the foreclosure crisis, particularly communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.

January 14, 2013

Testimony of Courtney Eccles in support of zoning restrictions for payday loan, title loan, and pawn shops. Alternative financial services strip wealth from low-wage workers and communities of color. The proposed ordinance would limit over-concentration of potentially predatory financial services in communities that need wealth-building financial products.

October 23, 2012

Testimony of Spencer Cowan before the Illinois Residential Mortgage Board Public Hearing on housing trends in the Chicago region, particularly the disparate housing recovery in low-wealth communities in communities of color.

August 13, 2012

Testimony of Tom Feltner in favor of further consideration, targeted application, and public participation in the use of eminent domain to seize and restructure underwater mortgages.

July 24, 2012

Testimony of Tom Feltner in favor of the creation of an Advisory Committee to consider the establishment of a Cook County Land Bank. Woodstock Institute research shows that lender-owned, likely vacant properties in low-wealth communities and communities of color sit on the market longer and lose more value than properties in other communities. A county-wide land bank is necessary to stabilize the regional housing market by acquiring distressed, relatively low-value property where there is little private-sector interest to make the necessary investments to return the property to productive use.

June 6, 2012

Testimony of Katie Buitrago, policy and communications associate at Woodstock Institute, on the issue of concentrated negative equity in communities of color. 

May 23, 2012

Testimony of Tom Feltner, vice president of Woodstock Institute, addressing deposit insurance, access to mainstream financial products, and credit products such as overdraft protection or payday loan-like deposit advances for general purpose reloadable cards.

April 24, 2012

Testimony of Spencer Cowan, vice president of Woodstock Institute, on access to employment-based retirement savings plans in Illinois.

March 23, 2012

Testimony of Tom Feltner, vice president of Woodstock Institute, addressing upfront fees and credit products such as overdraft protection or payday loan-like deposit advances for general purpose reloadable cards.

December 5, 2011

Testimony of Dory Rand, Woodstock Institute president, before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Financial Services in support of the implementation of Dodd-Frank Act. This testimony was presented during a field hearing held in Chicago, Illinois entitled "Regulatory Reform: Examining How New Regulations are Impacting Financial Institutions, Small Business, and Consumers in Illinois."

October 4, 2011

Woodstock Institute opposes this merger on the grounds that Capital One has an inadequate past record of meeting community financial needs. We also believe that the combined financial institution, as the fifth largest bank by deposits with a vulnerable portfolio heavily concentrated in credit cards, would pose significant risk to the financial system. Finally, this application demonstrates the inadequacy of current regulatory for ensuring that large financial institutions with limited branch networks are meeting the lending and financial services needs of low-wealth communities.

March 23, 2011

Senior Vice President Geoff Smith testifies before the Housing Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives on the issue of "red flag" properties and servicer accountability.

February 8, 2011

Vice President Tom Feltner testifies before the Finance Committee of the City Council of Chicago on the need to preserve access to basic, low-cost transaction accounts and proposes a citywide CRA commitment.

September 27, 2010

While HMDA data have been a valuable tool in fighting discrimination and redlining and improving access to credit to underserved markets, there are substantial opportunities to improve the data collected to make it even more effective. One of the main limitations of the current HMDA data is the lack of sufficient information on underwriting and product characteristics. One of the major frustrations experienced when analyzing HMDA data is being able to document clear patterns that indicate discriminatory lending, but lacking the necessary data to prove that discrimination is occurring. This frustration has been compounded by the lack of action taken by regulatory agencies in the face of clear indications of discriminatory lending behavior. Whle the Dodd-Frank Act will add key data points that will solve many of these concerns, Woodstock believes that there is still opportunity to improve the data collected.

August 16, 2010

Discusses the types of financial institutions that should have reinvestment responsibilities and the geographies where those responsibilities are assessed. Also includes recommendations to improve the services test portion of the CRA and improve the ratings and incentive structure of the CRA.

December 18, 2008

Testimony presented to the Office of Thrift Supervision opposing Republic Bancorp’s application for a charter conversion from a bank holding company to a savings and loan holding company.  Discusses the impact of the RAL product on lower-income Chicago communities and need to eliminate the refund anticipation loan product or require additional consumer protections.

 

November 27, 2006
Testimony of Geoff Smith, Project Director at Woodstock Institute, before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation regarding the need for and implementation of the HB 4050 predatory lending database pilot program.
June 8, 2006
Testimony of Geoff Smith, Project Director of Woodstock Institute focusing on the persistent disparities seen in the mortgage lending market, the impact that these disparities have on neighborhoods; and what the Federal Reserve Board can do to curb abusive lending practices.
May 25, 2006

Testimony before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on OTS’s actions to weaken CRA.  Comments offered suggestions to promote improvements to CRA that would increase access to lending, investments, and services in low- and moderate-income markets such as the requiring the continued reporting of small business lending data for mid-sized banks and thrifts.  They also requested that the OTS collect data on new retail accounts opened for low- and moderate-income households; and promoting investment in declining and underserved rural markets.  

October 5, 2005
Testimony of Marva Williams, Woodstock Institute Senior Vice President requesting conditional approval of the H& R Block application to become a de novo thrift regulated by the OTS.  Approval should only be granted if H&R Block makes a commitment to affirmatively address the lending patterns of H&R Block's subprime affiliate, Option One, commit to reducing the impact of refund anticipation loans on recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and several other issues.
March 8, 2005
Marva Williams, Woodstock Institute Senior Vice President, comments in favor of H.B. 1100 creating the Illinois Payday Loan Reform Act and discusses the five key consumer protections included in the bill.
April 23, 2004
Marva Williams, Woodstock Institute Senior Vice President, states that Woodstock Institute neither supports nor opposes the proposed acqusition of Bank One by New York based JP Morgan Chase.  She also states that federal banking regulators should take a bank's performance under a community reinvestment agreement into consideration during their ongoing CRA public examinations.

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