Access to Mortgage Credit - Blog Posts

April 1, 2011

Members of the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, of which Woodstock Institute is a lead partner, sent a letter urging the Illinois delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against H.R. 839, The HAMP Termination Act of 2011, which would cancel funding for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). In the letter, Housing Action Illinois, Metropolitan Planning Council, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, and Woodstock Institute told representatives:

February 22, 2011

Debate is brewing across the country about what shape our housing finance system should take in the years to come. As consumer advocates, we need to ensure that the system that emerges from these discussions meets the needs of  low-wealth people seeking affordable and sustainable housing.
The new housing finance system must support broad access to the products that made home ownership, the primary means of building wealth for many Americans, a reality for communities that otherwise would have been overlooked. It’s worth noting that, from the aftermath of the Great Depression to the beginning of the new millennium, government-sponsored entities (GSEs) like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ensured the flow of responsible credit to underserved communities and considerably expanded homeownership opportunities.

February 4, 2011

Loan servicers, who typically steward homes through the foreclosure process, came under scrutiny several months ago for problems ensuring the validity of foreclosure documents. Many of the country’s largest servicers allegedly employed “robo-signers,” often underpaid and under-trained employees who signed thousands of statements testifying to the accuracy of the foreclosure paperwork without actually ensuring that the statements were true. When some files were scrutinized, it was found that the servicer may not have had the right to pursue foreclosure because the mortgage debt had not been properly transferred. After a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that declared two such foreclosures invalid, the legality of thousands of foreclosures has been called into question.

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 9, 2010

Credit-default swaps. Derivatives. Collateralized debt obligations. Mortgage-backed securities. How many people on the street do you think could accurately define these terms? These financial “innovations” play a critical part in the story of the financial crisis, but average Joes—even above-average Joes—struggle to understand the role these instruments played. At our screening and discussion last week of “Plunder: The Crime of our Time,” journalist Danny Schechter proposed a framework for discussing the financial crisis that relies less on financial wonkery and more on a moral narrative.

December 6, 2010

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about some new Treasury data that found that most borrowers whose HAMP modifications were cancelled have not yet lost their homes. We decided to dig a little deeper into the data and look at what individual servicers are doing with borrowers they did not approve for a permanent modification (click for larger chart):

November 23, 2010

The Home Affordable Modification Program continues to putter along this month, with numbers of active trial and permanent modifications in the Chicago region staying largely level (see our previous analyses). There were 32,997 active modifications in the region in October 2010, up 0.36 percent from last month’s 32,880. However, new data from Treasury shows that the large number of homeowners who have been dropped from HAMP—at least 18,000 in the Chicago region—are not yet losing their homes in large numbers.

October 15, 2010

As you likely know, a number of large mortgage servicers are under scrutiny for possibly preparing fraudulent foreclosure papers. You can read our thoughts on the issue here. Since the situation keeps rapidly changing, we rounded up the latest news to help you stay informed:

October 13, 2010

In recent weeks, the foreclosure processing practices of some of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers have come under scrutiny. If the allegations of widespread fraud are true, this episode serves as yet another reminder that we can’t simply rely on the prudence of servicers to adequately address the foreclosure crisis.

October 6, 2010

Congress has an opportunity to spur job creation and recovery from the foreclosure crisis—and at little cost to the taxpayer.

October 6, 2010

Congress has an opportunity to spur job creation and recovery from the foreclosure crisis—and at little cost to the taxpayer.

October 6, 2010

Congress has an opportunity to spur job creation and recovery from the foreclosure crisis—and at little cost to the taxpayer.

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 29, 2010

New data show that the number of active trial and permanent Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) modifications in the Chicago region continues to drop, surpassing last month’s record low (see our previous analyses). There were 33,346 active modifications in the Chicago region in August 2010, down from last month’s 34,576 and November 2009’s 36,208, the first month Treasury released data by metro area.

September 27, 2010

The mortgage crisis, spurred by abusive high-cost loans, has devastated families across much of the country. Communities must contend with the considerable social and economic costs of vacant, boarded-up buildings, while families must rebuild their lives after losing their homes.

September 27, 2010

The mortgage crisis, spurred by abusive high-cost loans, has devastated families across much of the country. Communities must contend with the considerable social and economic costs of vacant, boarded-up buildings, while families must rebuild their lives after losing their homes.

September 27, 2010

The mortgage crisis, spurred by abusive high-cost loans, has devastated families across much of the country. Communities must contend with the considerable social and economic costs of vacant, boarded-up buildings, while families must rebuild their lives after losing their homes.

September 13, 2010

Even though the comment period on CRA modernization is now closed, there are other opportunities to provide input on policies that hold lenders accountable to their communities. Federal bank regulators are holding public hearings on updating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), which requires mortgage lenders to provide detailed public reports of their mortgage lending activities to regulators and the public (register here by September 15 for the Chicago hearing).

September 13, 2010

Even though the comment period on CRA modernization is now closed, there are other opportunities to provide input on policies that hold lenders accountable to their communities. Federal bank regulators are holding public hearings on updating the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), which requires mortgage lenders to provide detailed public reports of their mortgage lending activities to regulators and the public (register here by September 15 for the Chicago hearing).

September 10, 2010

Pages and pages of ratios and figures don’t usually fire up a crowd, but they do affect the rash of foreclosures our country is experiencing and Americans are fired up about that.  One of the driving factors behind the foreclosure crisis was lenders putting unsuspecting borrowers into loans they could not reasonably afford.  Borrowers of color, women, the elderly, and low-income families were favorite targets for these practices. Thankfully, legislators recently passed a bill that includes the modernization of a tool critical to fighting discrimination in the housing market.

September 10, 2010

Pages and pages of ratios and figures don’t usually fire up a crowd, but they do affect the rash of foreclosures our country is experiencing and Americans are fired up about that.  One of the driving factors behind the foreclosure crisis was lenders putting unsuspecting borrowers into loans they could not reasonably afford.  Borrowers of color, women, the elderly, and low-income families were favorite targets for these practices. Thankfully, legislators recently passed a bill that includes the modernization of a tool critical to fighting discrimination in the housing market.

September 10, 2010

Pages and pages of ratios and figures don’t usually fire up a crowd, but they do affect the rash of foreclosures our country is experiencing and Americans are fired up about that.  One of the driving factors behind the foreclosure crisis was lenders putting unsuspecting borrowers into loans they could not reasonably afford.  Borrowers of color, women, the elderly, and low-income families were favorite targets for these practices. Thankfully, legislators recently passed a bill that includes the modernization of a tool critical to fighting discrimination in the housing market.

August 25, 2010

The predatory subprime lending crisis devastated families and communities across Chicago and the nation, particularly low-wealth communities and communities of color.
A crucial tool to fight discriminatory and predatory lending is the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). HMDA requires mortgage lenders to provide detailed reports of their lending to regulators and the public. Woodstock Institute uses HMDA data to track discriminatory lending practices, study patterns of community investment, and hold individual banks accountable for their lending practices.

August 17, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period, we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. Last week, we explained how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business (see the discussion at Huffington Post). Today we’ll explain how CRA applies only to a fraction of the financial industry and why communities need a broader CRA to ensure that all financial institutions are offering safe and sustainable products where they do business.

August 17, 2010

As bank regulators take a close look at modernizing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) through a series of hearings and public comment period, we’re walking you through some key reasons why CRA must be updated. Last week, we explained how assessment areas don’t fully capture where a bank does business (see the discussion at Huffington Post). Today we’ll explain how CRA applies only to a fraction of the financial industry and why communities need a broader CRA to ensure that all financial institutions are offering safe and sustainable products where they do business.

August 6, 2010

With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, consumers will now have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor and regulate potentially abusive financial products. It will be equally important, however, to ensure that all communities have equitable access to responsible and fairly priced products and to eliminate the bad ones. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been an effective tool to encourage the provision of affordable financial services, but it must be updated to reflect the realities of today’s rapidly-changing financial landscape.

August 6, 2010

With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, consumers will now have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor and regulate potentially abusive financial products. It will be equally important, however, to ensure that all communities have equitable access to responsible and fairly priced products and to eliminate the bad ones. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has been an effective tool to encourage the provision of affordable financial services, but it must be updated to reflect the realities of today’s rapidly-changing financial landscape.

July 29, 2010

As Woodstock President Dory Rand noted, there is still much left to be done to ensure a fair and equitable financial system, even though the Dodd-Frank Act is now law. One major step is to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) so that all financial institutions are serving the entirety of communities in which they do business. The Chicago area has an opportunity to influence this process on August 12, when the Federal Reserve will be holding a hearing to consider CRA modernization. It is critical for regulators to hear from a large variety of organizations about why we must ensure that good products are available in every community – including low-wealth communities and communities of color.

July 20, 2010

A housing counseling agency that’s so swamped with demand for foreclosure prevention counseling that its executive director personally handles clients. Stalled real estate markets where buyers are waiting for prices to drop even further, and buyers who do want to buy now are struggling to obtain financing. Scam artists who take off with troubled homeowners’ last dollars while promising to save their homes. These are some of the challenges that face those who are trying to combat the effects of foreclosure in the Chicago region’s neighborhoods.

June 30, 2010

Thanks to your support, House and Senate conferees have passed a strong financial reform bill (read the summary and full text) that will protect consumers and introduce transparency to the financial system. The bill now goes to the full House and Senate for consideration. These reforms are major steps towards preventing another crisis and creating a sustainable financial system where all consumers can safely borrow and save for a brighter future.

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