Access to Banking Services

Accessing basic banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, is the first step towards financial security. Woodstock Institute works to ensure that all communities have sustainable, affordable basic banking options.

October 26, 2010
By Odette Yousef October 26, 2010   Bank failures have brought a wave of new lenders into many communities. These institutions are larger and more stable than the ones they have replaced, but they don’t have the same relationships with the communities they serve. For minority business owners that...
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.

September 20, 2010
By Will Buss September 20, 2010 A new report shows a disparity in credit scores between metro-east communities that have predominantly white residents and towns with predominantly black residents. In its report, called "Bridging the Gap," the Woodstock Institute in Chicago concluded that these...
September 15, 2010

As the recession drags on, policymakers and community leaders are searching for strategies to encourage job creation, investment in neighborhoods, and a return to economic stability. The findings from our latest report, however, depict troubling barriers to recovery—particularly in communities hit hardest by the financial crisis.

September 15, 2010
By Adam Doster September 15, 2010 It's common knowledge that the income gap between black and white Americans is on the rise. Less understood is the nation's enormous and persistent racial wealth gap, which takes into account the amount of assets a household owns versus what they owe. A report...
September 14, 2010

There are sharp disparities in credit characteristics between communities of color and white communities in Illinois, a new report from Woodstock Institute found. “Bridging the Gap: Credit Scores and Economic Opportunity in Illinois Communities of Color” analyzed credit score data from a major national credit bureau for the State of Illinois and found that individuals living in communities of color were far more likely to have “non-prime” credit scores, while individuals in predominantly white communities were much more likely to have “prime” credit scores.

September 14, 2010
By Sandra Guy September 14, 2010   The highest percentage of Chicago-area residents with low credit scores live in the Englewood, West Englewood, West and East Garfield Park, Riverdale and Austin communities, further distancing their abilities to get favorable loans, credit, rent and options for...
September 14, 2010
September 14, 2010   Consumers living in minority communities were more likely to have non-prime credit scores, while individuals in mostly-white neighborhoods were more likely to have prime credit scores, according to a report released Tuesday by Woodstock Institute. The Chicago-based non-profit...
September 13, 2010
This report analyzed credit score data from a major national credit bureau in large Illinois zip codes and found significant disparities in credit characteristics between communities of color and predominantly white communities, as well as between major metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas.
August 27, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period (you have until August 31 to submit comments), we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. We’ve gone over how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business and why a broader scope of financial institutions must be covered by CRA. Today we’ll explain how CRA doesn’t meaningfully measure how banks are providing retail banking services to low- and moderate-income people.

August 27, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the provisions of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period (you have until August 31 to submit comments), we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. We’ve gone over how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business and why a broader scope of financial institutions must be covered by CRA. Today we’ll explain how CRA doesn’t meaningfully measure how banks are providing retail banking services to low- and moderate-income people.

August 23, 2010
By Steve Chiotakis August 23, 2010 Chicago's ShoreBank is under new management. The community bank served the undeserved community for years. Dory Rand, president of the Woodstock Institute, talks with Steve Chiotakis about the significance of the bank for its customers and what will happen to it...
August 20, 2010
By Dakin Campbell and James Sterngold August 20, 2010 ShoreBank Corp., the Chicago lender operating under a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. cease-and- desist order for 13 months, and seven other banks were shut by regulators as 2010 bank failures climbed to 118. ShoreBank’s 15 branches, including...
August 20, 2010
By Becky Yerak August 20, 2010   Chicago-based ShoreBank, which for more than three decades made loans to South and West siders who might not have gotten financing elsewhere to buy homes, apartment buildings and start businesses, failed Friday. It had struggled for months to raise sufficient funds...
August 16, 2010

You can still make your voice heard on the need to improve the Community Reinvestment Act, even if you were not able to attend last week's hearing on CRA modernization at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

August 5, 2010

People with disabilities, advocates, and government officials recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the White House. While acknowledging that much progress has been made, participants agreed there is still a long way to go to achieve inclusion and opportunities for the one in five U.S. residents who have disabilities—that’s 54 million people, including 7 million who receive federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

July 28, 2010
By Adam Doster July 28, 2010 In one of the more consequential legislative changes this past session, the General Assembly passed a bill almost unanimously that will close a major loophole in the state's 2005 Payday Loan Reform Act. Thanks to the new law, lenders can no longer dish out a "consumer...
June 7, 2010

More women will declare bankruptcy than get college degrees this year. Over one quarter of U.S. households are unbanked or underbanked, and 85 percent of these consumers are people of color. For every dollar that white Americans have, Latinos have 12 cents and African-Americans have 10 cents.

May 20, 2010

Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has refused requests of Woodstock Institute and colleagues for a meeting to discuss the deleterious effects of its consumer lending and mortgage loan modification practices on our communities, but I finally got a chance to speak to him directly at the Chase shareholder meeting in New York on May 18.

May 18, 2010
By Kyle Peterson and Scott Malone May 18, 2010 A troubled Chicago community bank with a philanthropic reputation has won uncommon Wall Street backing to save it from a government takeover, while similarly sized rivals flounder and fail. Privately owned ShoreBank, a community development lender on...
May 13, 2010

A report released by a multi-state collaboration of regional research, policy and advocacy organizations documents the dramatic decrease in low-cost home loans made between 2006 and 2008, and highlights that communities of color were hardest hit by the drop-off in lending.

April 19, 2010

It is likely that the ongoing financial and economic crisis has left a lasting, negative impact financial stability of many of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations, including communities of color.  Credit scores, bankruptcy filings, and other issues have become increasingly important to long-term financial stability because they directly impact access not only to credit, but also access to basic banking and even employment.

April 19, 2010

It is likely that the ongoing financial and economic crisis has left a lasting, negative impact financial stability of many of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations, including communities of color.  Credit scores, bankruptcy filings, and other issues have become increasingly important to long-term financial stability because they directly impact access not only to credit, but also access to basic banking and even employment.

April 1, 2010

Safe, sustainable mortgage lending is an essential ingredient for an economic recovery, and Woodstock Institute’s Online Community Lending Fact Book answers the question on everyone’s mind: “When will lending pick up, and where?”

April 1, 2010

Safe, sustainable mortgage lending is an essential ingredient for an economic recovery, and Woodstock Institute’s Online Community Lending Fact Book answers the question on everyone’s mind: “When will lending pick up, and where?”

October 22, 2009

Checking accounts with high-cost overdraft fees are increasing older persons’ economic vulnerability, says a new report from Woodstock Institute, “Improving Economic Security Later in Life: Meeting the Credit and Financial Services Needs of Older Persons.” The controversial overdraft fees, recently under fire from Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), particularly burden beneficiaries of Social Security payments and low-income older persons.

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