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Woodstock Developments

A monthly update on new research, analysis, and advocacy from Woodstock Institute

March 11, 2010


From the President: Illinois Community Investment Coalition fights for financial reform on Capitol Hill

Dory RandFinancial reform is at a critical juncture in Washington. The House has already passed a bill to create a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to put consumers’ interests over those of Wall Street and crack down on the risky lending that spurred the financial crisis. However,  Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) continues to compromise the agency’s independence in the interest of bipartisan support.  Read more...

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OCC releases new RAL policy, but enforcement must be effective to protect consumers

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released a Policy Statement on Tax-Related Products and a Consumer Advisory on February 18, one month into the current tax season. The OCC is the U.S. Treasury Department agency that regulates national banks. Several national banks offer tax refund anticipation loans or RALs through partnerships with tax preparation services.

Although these OCC actions come too late to protect millions of consumers who have already been harmed by deceptive marketing and high-cost RALs this tax season, Woodstock Institute welcomes the OCC efforts as a step in the right direction. The new OCC Policy will be effective only if it is rigorously enforced, however. Read more...

Related: Refund anticipation loans: Just say no!
Related: Educate your communities about the dangers of RALs

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Credit to the community: proposals offer new funding source for CDFIs, expand SBA community express

Keeping credit flowing to small businesses is critical, especially in times of recession and high unemployment. Small businesses are engines for job creation, creating roughly 80 percent of new jobs and employing over half of private sector employees. Ensuring that small businesses are equipped to grow through productive, sustainable credit and create new jobs will be a vital component of economic recovery. Read more...  

Related: Guest blog: We need consumer financial protection and reform

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AG Madigan Takes On Abusive Debt Settlement Companies

After Darren Robinson lost his job at a factory, he and his girlfriend Julie Fitzpatrick accrued almost $10,000 in credit card debt paying for living expenses and medical bills. Fitzpatrick found a company online that promised to make them debt free. The couple told the Chicago Tribune that they paid almost $1,500 in fees to the debt settlement company. After a few months, only $2,000 of the debt was settled, and their debts ballooned to $12,000 as collection calls and fees increased. Read more...  

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Looking for information on the foreclosure crisis in the Chicago metro area?

Visit the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative's website at The RHOPI site is a one-stop shop for foreclosure information in the Chicago region, such as success stories of local efforts to forge solutions to the foreclosure problem, events, resources for homeowners and renters in trouble because of foreclosure, regional and national research, and data and indicators.

New at RHOPI: Tools for municipalities to tackle the vacant properties problem
Related: HAMP Loan Modifications Not Making Serious Dent: January

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In this issue

  Recent Work

File IconGovernment Interventions Have a Limited Impact on Chicago Area Foreclosure Activity in 2009
February 2010 

File IconDiverted Opportunity: Refund Anticipation Loans Drain Wealth from Low Wealth Tax Filers and Communities of Color
January 2010  

File IconCollaborators or Competitors? Exploring the Relationships between Community Development Financial Institutions and Conventional Lenders in Small Business Finance
November 2009 

  [+] View All Publications

  Save the Date

25th Annual Community Reinvestment Reception

April 1, 2010
4-6 pm
Harris Bank

29 E. Madison, Suite 1710 | Chicago, Illinois 60602-4566 | (312) 368-0310 tel | (312) 368-0316 fax