Woodstock Developments

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

May 26, 2011


From the President: Brave Chicago man spurs change in national bank fee policy for customers with disabilities

Dory Rand 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.


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Women in Cook County’s communities of color file bankruptcy at disproportionately high rates, finds new report

Bankruptcy filers in African-American neighborhoods choose potentially risky Chapter 13 more often than filers in white communities

Women in Cook County’s African-American neighborhoods file for bankruptcy at a disproportionately high rate, a new report from Woodstock Institute found. The report also found that bankruptcy filers in African-American communities are far more likely to choose Chapter 13 bankruptcy over Chapter 7, a trend that may indicate limited economic benefits of the bankruptcy process to filers in these communities.

Read the press release

Read the report

One woman in bankruptcy tells her story

It’s hard to feel lonely in Roxie King’s house. The walls are packed with row upon row of pictures of Roxie’s parents, two children, twenty grandchildren, and other loved ones celebrating various stages in life. On a recent visit, Roxie proudly showed Woodstock friend Bobbi Ball of Partners In Community Building, Inc. and me around her clean and cozy ranch-style home of 37 years near Midway Airport. Given her good cheer, it was hard to believe that, just last year, she was at risk of losing this home.

When Roxie was laid off from her job as an echocardiogram technician at a hospital, her finances came under significant strain.

“I was robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Roxie said. “Somebody’s going to come up short.”


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Home mortgage lending plummets in neighborhoods of color: National study exposes possible redlining and unequal access to credit

Access to mortgage refinance loans sharply declined in communities of color and increased substantially in predominantly white neighborhoods, according to a report released 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.


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Completed foreclosures in Cook County rise from end of 2010, says new analysis

Banks repossess nearly 2,800 homes in Cook County in the first quarter of 2011

Completed foreclosure auctions in Cook County increased substantially from the final quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, adding thousands of properties to the County’s vacant property inventory, say new data released by Woodstock Institute. The 10.5 percent increase in completed foreclosures from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011 was likely caused by a resumption of foreclosure activity after the end-of-year pause in many servicers’ foreclosure processes due to the robo-signing scandal.

Click for larger chart


Related: BofA to donate abandoned homes to Chicago nonprofit for rehab and demolition

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Geoff Smith at Credit Slips

Senior Vice President Geoff Smith was invited to guest-blog on consumer credit issues at popular blog Credit Slips this month. He took on a variety of issues, from women and people of color in bankruptcy to troubling trends in refinance lending. Check out his posts here.

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New at Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative

When Martin and Michelle Flores moved from Guanajuato, Mexico, to Elgin five years ago, they dreamed of setting down roots and creating a home for their young son, Matthew. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which rehabilitates foreclosed homes and puts them back into productive use, helped the Flores family achieve that dream, but the path was not free of obstacles. The home needed significant repairs and, as the renovation process dragged on, the sales contract was canceled. With the help of persistent housing counselors who fought for the Floreses and financing from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the Flores family purchased the house and made it a home for Matthew and their new little boy, Jacob.

This story--and countless others--illustrate the critical role that housing counselors play in the Chicago area’s foreclosure response strategy. The necessity of their role makes it all the more concerning that the recently-signed FY2011 budget zeroes out funding for HUD-certified housing counseling assistance.


In this issue

  Recent Work

File IconBridging the Gap II: Examining Trends and Patterns of Personal Bankruptcy in Cook County’s Communities of Color
May 2011

File IconPaying More for the American Dream V: The Persistence and Evolution of the Dual Mortgage Market
April 2011   

File IconLeft Behind: Troubled Foreclosed Properties and Servicer Accountability in Chicago
January 2011 

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