Earlier this month, Woodstock staff, board members, partners, and friends gathered at Mars Gallery in Chicago to celebrate all we’ve achieved this year. If you were not able to make it, you missed my recap of Woodstock’s top accomplishments for 2013.
As I said that night, all of these accomplishments would not have been possible without our wonderful staff, partners, and funders. Thank you. I look forward to more successes together in the future.
- Administration: Woodstock will finish 2013 with a small budget surplus, thanks to our talented administrative team. We also built out two new offices to accommodate our growing staff.
- Staff and technology changes: Woodstock hired Dan Fair as Web Communications Associate, updated our website and data portal, and upgraded our technology. The result has been an increase in overall site traffic, including a 327 percent increase for data portal traffic.
- Technical assistance: Woodstock continued to provide hundreds of hours of technical assistance to community-based organizations, reporters, researchers, policymakers, and others.
- New resources: Woodstock received $500,000 in funding over three years from the Illinois Attorney General’s National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement.
- State advocacy success: With our partners at the Illinois Asset Building Group and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Woodstock successfully advocated for the elimination of asset limits for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
- Vacant properties: Woodstock convened the Regional Housing Partnership (formerly RHOPI), hosted two successful forums in January and October, and used our Deciphering Blight report to train municipalities on ways to improve data collection on vacant properties.
- Home mortgage inequality: Woodstock published and held a briefing on our Unequal Opportunity report, which demonstrated disparities in mortgage lending to women.
- Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action: Woodstock obtained Clinton Global Initiative adoption of our Automatic IRA initiative to encourage retirement savings and recruited new community supporters and sponsors.
- Consumer advocacy: Woodstock staff served on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Consumer Advisory Board, helped test CFPB’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data publishing website, influenced issuance of a final Qualified Residential Mortgage rule that does not include a 20-percent down payment requirement, used The Case for Banning Payday Loans report to persuade CFPB to add payday loans to its complaint database, and published a fact sheet on Illinois resident complaints submitted to CFPB.
- Community reinvestment: Woodstock influenced improvements in revised, final Community Reinvestment Act Interagency Questions and Answers to stimulate investments in low- and moderate-income communities.
- Bank payday loans: Woodstock advocated with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which issued final rules restricting bank deposit advance products, and is advocating with the Federal Reserve to enact similarly strong rules.
- Celebrating 40 years: Woodstock hosted a very successful 40th anniversary national research symposium and bash Oct. 2-3 in Chicago.
I hope you enjoyed 2013 as much as I did. Looking ahead, we have research and advocacy plans for topics including student loan debt, abandoned properties and foreclosures, payday lending, and more. As always, we will monitor legislation, rules, and other policies that impact communities of color and low-wealth individuals.