As the Web Communications Associate, Julianna contributes to Woodstock’s communications, data analysis, and online presence through social media management and strategy. Prior to joining Woodstock Institute, Julianna worked as the media and communications intern for One Million Degrees and as a student resident at Kartemquin Films. Through her work at Woodstock, Julianna hopes to learn more about Chicago’s nonprofit sector.
"As a Chicagoan, I have personally seen how the current financial system preys on poorer communities and communities of color, leading to limited opportunities for them to grow. I am pleased that Woodstock Institute has given me the opportunity to help change the system."
Julianna received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Recent posts by Julianna Nunez
Illinois has been operating without a budget for two months. The impact has been immediate and felt across the state. No budget means no money for vital services for children and families. Woodstock Institute worked with the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) earlier this summer to urge lawmakers to pass a budget that focuses on generating revenue over simply cutting more services. Now is the time for lawmakers to take the lead and produce a budget that puts these services back in order.
A growing number of financial products and services are becoming available online. From mortgages to student loans to small business loans, consumers and business owners are able to borrow with a few strokes of the keyboard. While the increased accessibility of products and services may have some benefits for consumers, a number of unregulated financial products may actually do more harm than good. In order to further assess the situation, the United States Department of the Treasury has sent out a request for information about online lending, specifically focusing on small business lending and consumer lending. The data that the Treasury Department receives will help it determine what kind of regulation may be needed to protect borrowers in the online marketplace.
The U.S. House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) passed HR 1731, “Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act,” last week. This bill sets limits to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) jurisdiction over auto financing products. Both Illinois congressmen on the HFSC, Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL), voted in favor of the bill. Now the bill goes to the full House of Representatives. Woodstock Institute is disappointed that our elected officials on the HFSC voted in favor of HR 1731.We strongly urge Congress to vote against this bill to keep consumers safe from exploitive car finance products.
Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act made discrimination against people with disabilities illegal and ensured that the proper accommodations are made for people with disabilities in employment, government services, public and commercial facilities, and transportation. People with disabilities make up about 20 percent of the United States population, according to 2012 census data. The ADA has made it easier for people with disabilities to live their lives and be self-sufficient, but the battle for full economic inclusion is ongoing.
President Obama endorses initiatives to make retirement savings available to workers: “To me, the answer is clear. We need to uphold the basic tenet that says, in America, a lifetime of hard work should be rewarded with a retirement that is secure and dignified,” he wrote. Woodstock Institute agrees with the President, who stated: “This is about more than bank accounts or bottom lines. It’s about the values that make America great — honesty, fair play, dignity. And it’s about our commitment to each other and respecting everyone’s value, no matter how young or old you are.” The President recently called for the Department of Labor to develop rules that will help states set up automatic retirement savings programs for private-sector workers. Woodstock Institute supports this development and calls on the Department to issue the rules quickly.
Illinois has spent almost a month without an operating budget, forcing providers to cut vital services to Illinois’ children, families, and communities, and eliminate essential jobs. The budget standoff leaves the state’s most vulnerable populations at risk. The Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) is urging lawmakers to enact a budget that includes adequate revenue and does not leave social services in the dust.
Americans are living longer, and so the money they set aside for retirement has to stretch further. Also, more seniors are experiencing financial insecurity in the aftermath of the housing market crash. To deal with living costs, many seniors turn to reverse mortgages, which allow them to receive loan payments based on the equity in their homes. However, reverse mortgages are complicated, and most consumers do not really understand their potential risks and pitfalls. Seniors in Illinois may soon have less to worry about because the state legislature approved a bill that would add consumer protections to reverse mortgages.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is collecting consumer comments about student loan servicing until July 13. This process lets the CFPB know about potential consumer protection risks and could be the first step towards regulating the massive student loan servicing industry, so we urge you to tell the CFPB about your experiences repaying your student loans and whether you have encountered trouble seeking an affordable repayment plan, getting your payments applied correctly, communicating with your servicer, or other issues.
Woodstock Institute and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, along with 13 partner organizations, submitted a comment letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today raising concerns about Sallie Mae Bank’s banking and lending practices. Sallie Mae Bank is falling short on its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) obligations. This is largely due problems with its “non-traditional” private student loans, which are loans to college students with low credit scores, particularly those who attend for-profit colleges. In 2008, Sallie Mae Bank announced that it would discontinue making these type of loans, but they owned and serviced non-traditional loans during its CRA examination period.
Woodstock Institute’s 2015 Community Investment Awards honored community leaders and explored the growing problem of student debt. Guests networked during the reception before gathering to recognize the honorees. Heartland Alliance, Rohit Chopra of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and The Resurrection Project (TRP) received awards for their outstanding work and leadership in the areas of retirement security advocacy, consumer empowerment and protection, and community development. A large audience of community advocates, bankers, and other colleagues appreciated the words of acceptance and inspiration offered by Amy Rynell of Heartland, Raul Raymundo of TRP, and Mr. Chopra.
A proposal to relax federal standards in mortgage lending and bank regulation could undo years of work to enhance consumer protections and prevent financial crises. U.S. Senate Banking Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) proposed legislation that would change criteria used to define big banks, sharply reducing the number of banks that would fall under federal regulation, as well as loosen mortgage lending standards. The proposal will be marked up tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. CT. Woodstock Institute is firmly opposed to these proposed changes.
Student debt is frequently viewed as investment in the future, since taking on this debt allows students to attend college and access more employment opportunities upon graduation. For millions of for-profit college students, however, student loans turn out to be a bad investment. For-profit college students are more likely to graduate with more debt and experience fewer job options than students at public and nonprofit schools. At the Community Investment Awards, Woodstock Institute will host a panel to discuss this important issue and what we can do to address it.
In a city as large as Chicago, it can be difficult for communities to find the economic support they need. A lack of access to financial services and limited community development can inhibit the growth of these neighborhoods, but one organization has dedicated itself to ensuring that communities can thrive. The Resurrection Project (TRP) stands as a pillar of support for Chicago’s Southwest Side, including Pilsen, Back of the Yards, and Little Village.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Senator Dick Durbin are taking a stand for student loan borrowers by urging the federal government to forgive the federal student loans of Corinthian Colleges students. Student loans are often regarded as “good debt”: they help consumers build their assets by giving them access to more prestigious and higher-paying jobs. However, an unwelcoming job market has left student loan borrowers with fewer job options and thus fewer opportunities to pay back their debt. One of the populations that was the hit the hardest is for-profit college students. Woodstock Institute research shows that for-profit college students are graduating with more debt and fewer job opportunities than their peers.
Most Illinois residents know that the state is billions of dollars in debt and has fallen behind on funding its pension obligations. Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed severe cuts to the fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget to remedy this situation. However, the Governor’s proposals have focused on cutting the budgets of Illinois human services, including services for affordable housing, homeless youth, and supportive housing. These cuts hurt the state’s most vulnerable citizens by taking vital resources away from those that need them the most.
Higher education has long been one of the keys to attaining the American Dream; however, skyrocketing student debt has turned the dream into a nightmare for many in our country. With challenges ranging from deficient student loan servicing to predatory for-profit colleges, millions of borrowers need help as they struggle to pay off their loans. Rohit Chopra, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Student Loan Ombudsman, stands out as a leader in student debt reform.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed regulations for the prepaid card industry in December 2014 and accepted public comments through March of 2015. Woodstock commented that these rules are generally strong and will help keep consumers safe in this growing industry, but we believe that the CFPB can strengthen the rules by expanding protections in several areas.
Millions of Illinois workers struggle to build retirement savings. The tides started to change when former Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program into law. Private sector employers with 25 or more employees who do not offer a retirement savings option will automatically enroll workers into the Secure Choice plan. Employees will fund their Roth IRA accounts through payroll deductions. This achievement could not have been accomplished without the dedicated work of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, a leader in the Secure Choice campaign. Secure Choice’s influence is growing across the country.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the “Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates Act” on Tuesday to protect borrowers of high-cost, short-term loans from usurious interest rates. The exploitative practices of many payday lenders leave consumers in financial ruin. Woodstock Institute and partners from across the country have been pushing for decades for stronger regulations of high-cost, short-term loans to prevent high interest rates and practices that exploit the financially disadvantaged.
This Women’s History Month, we at Woodstock Institute are reflecting on how women are still at a disadvantage in the areas of income and wealth and what can be done to address that disparity. One of the common ways in which people build assets is by purchasing a home. Woodstock Institute’s research has shown that women are at a distinct disadvantage in obtaining mortgage credit. The Unequal Opportunity report found that applications from women were less likely than applications from men to be originated and that female-headed joint applications were less likely than male-headed joint applications to be approved. We are completing follow-up research which includes a look into whether certain neighborhoods experience more gender disparities in access to mortgage credit than others and suggestions for policy and practice solutions to expand women’s access to mortgage credit.