Access to Mortgage Credit

Access to mortgage credit helps families build wealth and is vital to community prosperity. Woodstock Institute works to ensure that all communities can access sustainable, affordable mortgages.

March 20, 2013
Presentation for the 2013 National Community Reinvestment Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C. Spencer Cowan presented on Woodstock Institute's "Unequal Opportunity" report, which identified disparities in lending for women in the Chicago six-county region.
March 12, 2013
CHICAGO—Female mortgage applicants are less likely to have their loans originated than are male mortgage applicants, Woodstock Institute finds in a new fact sheet. The Institute also found evidence  that female-headed joint applications (a female applicant with a male co-applicant) are less likely to have mortgages originated than are male-headed joint applications (a male applicant with a female co-applicant).
March 11, 2013
This fact sheet examines women’s access to mortgages following the collapse of the housing bubble.
October 23, 2012
Testimony of Spencer Cowan before the Illinois Residential Mortgage Board Public Hearing on housing trends in the Chicago region, particularly the disparate housing recovery in low-wealth communities in communities of color.
July 19, 2012
Leading community organizations, including Chicago’s Woodstock Institute, report evidence today of a two-tiered mortgage market characterized by high rates of government-backed loans made both to borrowers in communities of color and to borrowers of color in their new report, “Paying More for the American Dream VI: Racial Disparities in FHA/VA Lending.”  
July 18, 2012
This report finds evidence of a two-tiered mortgage market characterized by high rates of FHA and VA loans made both to borrowers in communities of color and to borrowers of color.
June 26, 2012
Presented by Woodstock president Dory Rand to the Metropolitan Housing Coalition in Louisville, KY. Covers the effect of the housing crisis on Chicago's communities of color and solutions to the resulting challenges.
Struggling to Stay Afloat
March 22, 2012
The following analysis examines patterns of negative equity in communities of different racial and ethnic compositions in the Chicago six county region. It combines 2011 data on negative equity in Chicago region ZIP codes with U.S. Census data on the racial/ethnic composition of ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA).
August 9, 2011

The CFPB is soliciting a third round of comments on its Know Before You Owe project to simplify disclosure forms used in the mortgage process.  The agency last week extended the deadline to this Wednesday.

July 29, 2011

As the number of foreclosure filings continue to outpace loan modifications and other foreclosure prevention strategies, more and more homes are becoming vacant in the Chicago region. More than 95 percent of completed foreclosures in the six-county region in 2010 became owned by their lenders and likely remain vacant, data from Woodstock Institute show. Moving families back into these homes would counteract the destabilizing influences of vacancy and set neighborhoods on the path to recovery. While new household formation is on the rise and should contribute to an increased demand for homeownership, access to mortgage credit has become sharply constricted.

July 22, 2011

“American payroll and household formation numbers are actually on the rise. Traditionally, this would mean that these households, with increasing capital, would naturally look to invest in a home, but getting the loan to do so is on a downward trajectory.

June 28, 2011

When it takes a long time to create a problem, it often takes even longer to fix it. In Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality, Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro illustrated how various American tax, property and financial policies and practices precluded generations of African Americans from building wealth and created intergenerational poverty, the effects of which continue to reverberate today. The gains that some African Americans and other people of color made in wealth creation through home ownership, small business development and educational attainment during the late 1990s and early 2000s were all but wiped out by ongoing the financial and foreclosure crisis. If left unaddressed, the racial wealth gap will continue to grow.

Fostering Opportunity
June 21, 2011
In response to dramatic proposals to change the housing finance system in Washington, Woodstock Institute convened a panel discussion on May 12, 2011 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago with top housing decision-makers to explore the current challenges to mortgage finance and potential impacts on low-wealth communities and communities of color. This document summarizes critiques and proposals that arose from the discussion.
May 17, 2011

With estimates showing a shadow inventory that numbers in the millions, it’s clear that the foreclosure crisis is not done wreaking havoc on the housing market. It seems that the ideal outcome for families, communities, and investors alike would include avoiding as many foreclosures as possible and keeping homes occupied. A number of strategies have been deployed in support of this goal, some more effective than others. One thread is common among the diverse array of approaches: the importance of HUD-certified housing counselors, who were hit with a major funding cut in the FY 2011 budget. Please take action this week to help get this funding restored for the 2012 budget.

May 9, 2011

Don't forget--this Thursday, representatives from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, CitiMortgage, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Community Investment Corporation, and Oak Park Regional Housing Center will debate the impact of proposed changes to the housing finance system on communities of color and low-wealth communities at a panel we're hosting at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

April 28, 2011

Access to mortgage refinance loans sharply declined in communities of color and increased substantially in predominantly white neighborhoods, according to a report released today by a multistate coalition of groups.
These trends underline growing concerns about the dramatically divergent fortunes of communities of color that have been hit hard by the foreclosure and economic crisis and white communities where the impact has been less severe.  These concerns are even more pronounced in light of recent proposed changes in mortgage financing that would likely make access to conventional refinance lending even more difficult and costly and likely disproportionately affect access to loans in communities of color.

Paying More V
April 27, 2011
Paying More for the American Dream V examines changes in conventional refinance lending between 2008 and 2009 in seven metropolitan areas: Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York City, and Rochester, NY.
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).