Woodstock Institute President Dory Rand brings a wealth of community reinvestment knowledge and a proven ability to shape financial services policy to the challenge of promoting economic security and community prosperity for lower-wealth people.
“I’m interested in using lessons learned from behavioral economics to create public policies and financial products that foster a sound financial system and help everyone safely borrow, save and invest for long-term financial security,” says Dory. “I find my job fulfilling because Woodstock Institute’s work helps to close the wealth gap by increasing opportunities for lower-wealth households and communities of color to thrive and prosper.”
Dory joined Woodstock Institute after 12 years at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago; most recently, she served as the supervising attorney of the Center’s Community Investment Unit.
Dory has long advocated for lower-wealth people on welfare law and public financial issues at the local, state, and national levels. She has published extensively, presented at many national conferences, and appeared in national and local media, including American Banker and the Chicago Tribune.
Meanwhile, she emphasizes the importance of collaborating with others on key issues. “I feel fortunate to work with the talented Woodstock team and colleagues around the country in creating innovative solutions to some of the most significant financial issues of our lifetime,” she says.
Dory received a B.A. and J.D. from The Ohio State University.
Recent posts by Dory Rand
I had the opportunity to see former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair address the Executives’ Club of Chicago this morning and distribute her new book, Bull By the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself. A pro-regulation Republican, Bair faulted Wall Street for its “short-sighted avarice” and said we need “more long-term thinking” about what is in the public interest. The priority now for Congress, Bair said, must be implementing the Dodd-Frank Act, “getting the rules done.” Her five recommendations for financial reform include:
All children deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming a veterinarian, astronaut, teacher, or whatever they desire. Without an education, however, many of these dreams will remain unattainable, as will the economic mobility these careers provide. Knowing that there’s a plan in place and savings accumulating for college is a strong motivator for many children, but too few children have the security of a college nest egg.
The American Bankers Association recently called upon bank regulators to stop using the "disparate impact" doctrine in their fair lending examination process. We believe removing this critical tool from regulators' tool boxes would significantly hamper their ability to foster a more just financial marketplace.
As cities and communities make plans for economic development and poverty alleviation in the aftermath of the Great Recession, there is growing interest in how public and private investments in the arts and cultural initiatives can develop human capital, promote economic development, and create vibrant communities, especially in low-wealth areas. There is a related increased emphasis on collecting and sharing data that document how arts and culture contribute to local and state economies and improve outcomes for arts participants of all ages and backgrounds.
Recent reports show that home prices in Chicago have continued to decline even as some sales are starting to pick up. I can tell you from personal experience that is what is happening—and that further steps must be taken before we have a real and lasting real estate recovery.
Imagine Gail, a 30-year-old mother of two school-age children. Gail is on ChexSystems and has a low credit score as the result of actions taken by an abusive former husband who controlled the household budget and joint accounts. (About 80 percent of banks use ChexSystems to screen applicants for past fraud or overdrawn accounts.) Now divorced, Gail goes to her local bank to open a checking account in her own name, but is denied.
I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her staff, and about a dozen Illinois housing advocates on March 8 in Chicago. General Madigan hosted the meeting shortly before the filing of the multi-state/federal settlement with five of the largest mortgage servicers following revelations about widespread abuses, including so-called “robo-signing” of mortgage foreclosure court documents.
The Pew Charitable Trusts published a model one-page disclosure form for bank and credit union account fees in April of 2011 as part of a paper entitled Hidden Risks: The Case for Safe and Transparent Checking Accounts. According to a Pew-commissioned poll of U.S. checking accountholders conducted in July 2011, 78 percent of all American checking accountholders responded positively to a proposal that would require banks to provide a one-page summary of information about checking accounts’ terms, conditions and fees, while only four percent said this would be a negative change. Clearly explaining checking account fees is important because it allows consumers to effectively comparison shop to find a bank that works best for them. It can also help lower barriers to entry for un- and underbanked consumers, who, according to the FDIC, cite hidden charges as one of the top reasons they do not participate in the banking system.
Every day, we see families and communities struggling with foreclosure, job loss, debt, and lack of access to affordable credit as a result of the foreclosure and economic crisis. Many of our families, friends, and neighbors have lost their homes, suffered damaged credit, or filed for bankruptcy. Consequently, fewer people have access to affordable credit to buy a home, start a business, pay for college, and so on. The wealth gap between the haves and the have nots has widened significantly. The problems continue to hit hardest in communities of color, where there is a higher concentration of predatory lending, low credit scores, and bankruptcies.
Happy New Year! This year is going to be momentous, on both policy and personal fronts.
On the policy side, several recent developments give me hope for some significant policy changes in 2012. One of the biggest developments is President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Even Senate Republicans who refused to confirm him because of ideological opposition to the agency itself have acknowledged that Cordray is eminently qualified for the job. Cordray is already reaching out to consumer leaders across the country, continuing the agency’s culture of inclusion and cooperation. And CFPB is wasting no time using its power to regulate non-banks. For example, the CFPB released Mortgage Origination Examination Procedures for both banks and non-banks on January 11, 2012, and is already investigating PHH, the nation’s largest private mortgage company, for improper reinsurance payments. The CFPB has also launched field hearings on payday lending, starting with one today in Birmingham, Alabama.
Policymakers, nonprofits, planners, researchers, and financial institutions are putting their heads together to try and diminish the negative impacts that vacant properties have on their surrounding neighborhoods. The ordinances passed by the Chicago City Council and the Board of Commissioners of Cook County are two examples of the creative solutions communities have developed to hold mortgage servicers accountable and keep their neighborhoods livable and safe. But just how serious is the vacant property problem in the Chicago region? A look at the data can give us a sense of the scope of the challenges our communities face.
Ocwen, one of the leading mortgage servicers, has had success in doing principal write-downs on home mortgages so that families can stay in their homes, reported Ocwen’s Paul Koches at the annual Home Ownership Preservation Initiative conference on December 9. Using a proprietary underwriting system developed by Ocwen, the servicer has been able to modify mortgages in such a way as to reduce the principal amount owed, which helps many homeowners who currently owe more than their home is worth. For Ocwen loans where principal reductions have been approved, the company claims that only 3 percent of borrowers re-default.
I hope that you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and took a moment to actually give thanks. As the foreclosure and economic crisis drags on and many of our friends and neighbors remain unemployed or underwater on their mortgages or worse, we need to recognize and appreciate some of the good things in our lives.
The Occupy Wall Street movement and related protests across the country have brought attention to growing wealth inequalities and the need for policy reforms to create a more just financial system and help our communities recover. Many of our friends and neighbors are feeling the impact of the economic crisis through layoffs, foreclosures, bankruptcies, underwater mortgages, neighborhood blight and more. Some are using the OWS movement and the related We are the 99 Percent blog to tell their stories and ask for change.
With home values continuing a steep decline, little change in the unemployment rate, and 26 percent of Illinoisans owing more than their home is worth, little has been done to buoy confidence that an economic recovery is at hand. A settlement of the investigations surrounding last year’s robo-signing scandal that, among other things, achieves widespread principal reduction commitments from major servicers, could change that–but only if done carefully.
I am taking my first child to college this week. He is excited about being a freshman and taking interesting classes in history and other subjects. I realize how very fortunate he is to have this opportunity and how many other students lack the financial resources to go to college. There are others still who have not had the family support or educational opportunities to even think about college.
I tend to be a “glass half full” optimist, so I’m pretty happy about the launch of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on July 21. Having a regulator that looks out for the interests of consumers is definitely something to celebrate.
When it takes a long time to create a problem, it often takes even longer to fix it. In Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality, Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro illustrated how various American tax, property and financial policies and practices precluded generations of African Americans from building wealth and created intergenerational poverty, the effects of which continue to reverberate today. The gains that some African Americans and other people of color made in wealth creation through home ownership, small business development and educational attainment during the late 1990s and early 2000s were all but wiped out by ongoing the financial and foreclosure crisis. If left unaddressed, the racial wealth gap will continue to grow.
In response to pressure from a customer backed by consumer and disability rights advocates, Chase Bank announced on May 13 that it would not impose its $12 monthly fee on basic checking account customers with direct deposits of at least $500 per month in aggregate from Social Security payments. This change could save customers with disabilities millions of dollars a year.
While I was in Washington, DC, last week for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference, the Congress passed legislation cutting the federal budget for the current fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2010-Sept. 30, 2011). As hundreds of conference attendees conducted Capitol Hill visits on April 14, the day the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the measure, we were shocked to learn that one of the many programs gutted was the entire $88 million line of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget for housing counseling.