Access to Banking Services - Blog Posts

Illinois State Capitol Building
March 1, 2016

Illinois’s legislative session is in full swing, and Woodstock is monitoring many bills that fall within the scope of our mission: to create a just financial system in which lower-wealth persons and communities as well as people and communities of color can achieve economic security and prosperity.  Here are some of the bills that we are supporting this session.

 
December 9, 2015

Over the past year, Woodstock has expanded the work it has done to promote greater access to safe and affordable credit for small businesses, building on our 2014 report, Discredited: Disparate Access to Credit for Businesses in the Chicago Six County Region.  That report examined lending by large banks to businesses in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color, specifically small loans that are most likely to go to locally-owned, neighborhood businesses that provide jobs to local residents.  The analysis of lending patterns showed that businesses in those neighborhoods were much less likely to have received loans from large banks than businesses in more affluent, predominantly white neighborhoods.

August 4, 2015

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. 

June 25, 2015

We had a vibrant discussion in Chicago recently on barriers facing women trying to access mortgage and small business credit and ways to support women’s efforts to build wealth. Woodstock Institute and JPMorgan Chase hosted a forum for about one hundred participants from the nonprofit, banking, and government sectors on June 19. Melissa Bean, Midwest Chair for Chase, and I welcomed the group and kicked off the event.

September 3, 2014
We need your help now to make sure that public benefits recipients can save for the future.
August 4, 2014

Results of mystery shopping conducted by Woodstock Institute and allies in four cities across the country reveal that banks often provide confusing and inaccurate information to consumers about overdraft programs and fees for checking accounts. The report released today by California Reinvestment Coalition of Oakland, CA; New Economy Project of New York City, NY; Reinvestment Partners of Durham, NC; and Woodstock Institute of Chicago, IL, calls on federal banking regulators and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to strengthen consumer protections for all overdraft products and improve oversight of banks who offer overdraft products.

July 17, 2014

Access to affordable banking services helps people build wealth, but some persistent barriers deter consumers from opening or keeping a bank account. In the Pew Charitable Trusts’ recent report entitled Overdrawn: Persistent Confusion and Concern About Bank Overdraft Practices , based on a nationally representative survey of American adults, the authors found that 13 percent of people who paid an overdraft penalty say they no longer have a checking account; 19 percent report responding to overdraft fees by discontinuing overdraft coverage; and 28 percent report closing a checking account in response to overdraft fees. 

Springfield
June 9, 2014

The spring Illinois legislative session just came to an end. Here are highlights of what happened in Springfield on issues affecting wealth-building opportunities for Illinoisans:

June 6, 2014

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee last week called for an end to a critical Department of Justice (DOJ) anti-fraud investigation called “Operation Choke Point.” Eliminating the operation could hamper DOJ’s ability to prevent the financial abuse of some of the most financially vulnerable consumers.

June 5, 2014

Last year, thousands of consumers filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding financial products. In Illinois, complaints from consumers focused on mortgage services, banking services, credit cards, and other critical services.

Tags: cfpb
May 28, 2014

You may have heard about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), but what can it do for you and your constituents?

April 15, 2014

The Illinois House last week took the first step towards ensuring that workers who receive their wages on payroll cards are protected from deceptive fees that can eat away at their earnings.

Data portal graph
April 14, 2014

Nearly a year ago, Woodstock launched our online data portal in order to deliver meaningful data on the Chicago six county region for our community partners in a user-friendly way.

March 6, 2014

U.S. Bank announced earlier this year it intended to purchase Chicago-area branches of RBS Citizens/Charter One Bank.

December 2, 2013

I recently read an eye-opening book entitled “Scarcity: Why Having So Little Matters So Much,” by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. It’s about how scarcity of time, money, food, and sleep affects our brains, creating a tunnel vision.

November 15, 2013

Ten mortgages to African Americans in 2012. Zero bank branches in low-income communities or communities of color. And below-peer-level lending to low-income communities in all of its assessment areas.

October 14, 2013

Chicagoans had an opportunity last week to voice their concerns about different types of consumer credit to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray.

September 24, 2013

For our 40th anniversary, we have secured some incredible keynote speakers you’re sure to enjoy. From a range of backgrounds and expertise, our speakers will make you think differently about the work you do every day.

September 24, 2013

We have a unique opportunity to tell the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) our concerns at a hearing CFPB will hold in Chicago on October 2.

Ventra Cards
June 5, 2013

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recently announced positive changes to the general purpose reloadable (GPR) feature of the CTA’s new Ventra transit card after receiving pressure from consumer advocacy groups

September 8, 2011

As you may know, Capital One recently applied to regulators to acquire ING Direct. The deal would create the fifth-largest bank in the country and raises substantial concerns about how the deal would impact communities.
 

May 26, 2011

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.

December 22, 2010

Lack of credit availability is a key concern for the housing market recovery. As we discussed in our latest report, lenders are tightening standards as foreclosures and other recession-related negative credit events are taking a hit on many borrowers’ credit scores. For example, the Federal Housing Administration recently changed their policy so that they will only insure loans to borrowers with a credit score of 580 or higher for their standard lending program. However, reports have shown that some FHA-approved lenders are requiring even higher standards for FHA loans. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition, on whose board our president Dory Rand sits, is taking issue with that practice. NCRC recently filed fair housing complaints with federal regulators alleging that many top FHA lenders have underwriting policies that disparately restrict people of color from access to credit.

December 14, 2010

As the end of the year approaches, several thinkers around the Web are reflecting on the meaning of an event that deeply impacted the Chicago region and beyond: the closure of ShoreBank and its rebirth under a new management team as Urban Partnership Bank. We released a statement after ShoreBank’s closure commending the bank for playing a crucial role in supporting affordable housing in Chicago and expressing our hopes that Urban Partnership will carry on that legacy. Here’s what others are saying:

November 19, 2010

Our latest report analyzing credit score patterns in Illinois found some troubling facts:  54 percent of individuals in highly African-American communities had credit scores below 620, while that figure is only 16.5 percent in predominantly white communities. Furthermore, 43.3 percent of individuals in highly African-American communities had a credit score below 580, compared to 11.5 percent in predominantly white communities. The concentration of low credit scores in communities of color raises concerns about the prospects for economic recovery in those neighborhoods, since credit scores are becoming increasingly important in more walks of life. Not only will it be more difficult to access affordable home, small business, and car loans, but having low or no credit scores can impact the availability of rental housing, affordable utilities and insurance, and even employment. Given these challenges, what can be done to improve opportunities in Illinois’ communities of color?

October 5, 2010

Since 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been an effective tool to ensure that financial institutions live up to their community investment obligations, but many of the opportunities for public input on how a bank served the community’s needs only occur when a bank applies to merge with another bank.  The past decade has seen considerable industry consolidation, resulting in fewer merger opportunities for public input. As a result of the ongoing financial and foreclosure crisis, the few large mergers that have occurred were the result of financial insolvency and have taken place on an emergency basis, with no public input for consideration of the merged institutions’ community investment commitments.
Under the American Community Investment Reform Act, a proposal to modernize the CRA introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-4), the public would be able to more effectively hold financial institutions accountable for their community development practices and the financial products they offer.

October 5, 2010

Since 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been an effective tool to ensure that financial institutions live up to their community investment obligations, but many of the opportunities for public input on how a bank served the community’s needs only occur when a bank applies to merge with another bank.  The past decade has seen considerable industry consolidation, resulting in fewer merger opportunities for public input. As a result of the ongoing financial and foreclosure crisis, the few large mergers that have occurred were the result of financial insolvency and have taken place on an emergency basis, with no public input for consideration of the merged institutions’ community investment commitments.
Under the American Community Investment Reform Act, a proposal to modernize the CRA introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-4), the public would be able to more effectively hold financial institutions accountable for their community development practices and the financial products they offer.

October 5, 2010

Since 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been an effective tool to ensure that financial institutions live up to their community investment obligations, but many of the opportunities for public input on how a bank served the community’s needs only occur when a bank applies to merge with another bank.  The past decade has seen considerable industry consolidation, resulting in fewer merger opportunities for public input. As a result of the ongoing financial and foreclosure crisis, the few large mergers that have occurred were the result of financial insolvency and have taken place on an emergency basis, with no public input for consideration of the merged institutions’ community investment commitments.
Under the American Community Investment Reform Act, a proposal to modernize the CRA introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-4), the public would be able to more effectively hold financial institutions accountable for their community development practices and the financial products they offer.

September 30, 2010

Woodstock Institute President Dory Rand applauded the introduction of the American Community Investment Reform Act of 2010 today by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Al Green (D-TX), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

September 23, 2010

When most people think of economic insecurity, the first thing that comes to mind is an income that’s insufficient to meet basic needs. Low income is certainly part of the problem, but it leaves out a large and often-overlooked group of people who are one or two unexpected expenses away from an economic crisis: the asset poor. A person who is asset-poor does not have enough assets—home equity, checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, business assets, and the like—to cover three months’ worth of basic expenses in the case of an emergency. In a volatile economic climate like today, the asset poor walk an especially tenuous line between security and insecurity.

Pages