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Woodstock Developments

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

January 19, 2012


From the President: Promising Starts for 2012

Dory Rand Happy New Year! This year is going to be momentous, on both policy and personal fronts.

On the policy side, several recent developments give me hope for some significant policy changes in 2012. One of the biggest developments is President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Even Senate Republicans who refused to confirm him because of ideological opposition to the agency itself have acknowledged that Cordray is eminently qualified for the job. Cordray is already reaching out to consumer leaders across the country, continuing the agency’s culture of inclusion and cooperation. And CFPB is wasting no time using its power to regulate non-banks. For example, the CFPB released Mortgage Origination Examination Procedures for both banks and non-banks on January 11, 2012, and is already investigating PHH, the nation’s largest private mortgage company, for improper reinsurance payments. The CFPB has also launched field hearings on payday lending, starting with one today in Birmingham, Alabama.


Related: Top 10 stories of 2011

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President Obama recess appoints Richard Cordray as head of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, agency can enforce authority to regulate all financial institutions, including non-banks

“Today, President Obama empowered a highly qualified prosecutor to combat the abuses coming from payday lenders, mortgage brokers, private student lenders, and other non-bank financial institutions—abuses that have shattered dreams and drained substantial wealth from low-wealth communities and communities of color,” said Dory Rand, President of Woodstock Institute.


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Vacant properties blog series will examine solutions to growing regional, national housing challenge

On Feb. 12, Cook County's vacant building ordinance takes effect, intended to help communities get a handle on both the sheer numbers and conditions of vacant properties in their borders. Throughout January and February, Woodstock Institute is participating in a series on vacant properties in metropolitan Chicago hosted by the Metropolitan Planning Council. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature guests posts from elected and appointed officials, policy advocates, finance experts, and others about the many ways we are all working together to get a handle on this growing regional and national challenge. Follow the series at www.woodstockinst.org/blog.

Metropolitan Planning Council and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus: Vacant properties blog series will examine solutions to growing regional, national housing challenge

Woodstock Institute: The Chicago region's vacant property problem: a data snapshot

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REO-to-rental can work, but community needs must be a top priority

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System recently released a white paper on housing issues, including their thoughts on management of vacant homes in foreclosure. While their ideas, if implemented, have potential to return some properties to productive use, it should be clear that ensuring that vacant properties don’t negatively impact their communities should be a top consideration for servicers, government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), private investors, and others with responsibility for these homes.


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Existing responses to foreclosure crisis still insufficient to meet needs, new leadership is needed: November HAMP Analysis

New data on the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) show that the program is unlikely to reach many eligible homeowners before it expires. Additionally, HAMP is not effectively addressing the problem of negative equity, nor is it likely to while the current conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA), refuses to allow principal reductions on the loans backed by the GSEs. New leadership is needed at the FHFA to effectively address the problems facing the housing market.


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New at Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative: Housing collaboratives in South and West Cook County receive nearly $11 million in federal funds to stabilize communities across borders

The West Cook County Housing Collaborative and the Chicago Southland Housing and Community Development Collaborative received nearly $11 million in federal funding from the IKE Disaster Recovery Program to further their interjurisdictional work on stabilizing communities in south and west Cook County in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. The funding will help hard-hit communities preserve workforce housing, address blight, and recover from the devastating floods of 2008. The award also represents an important affirmation of the collaborative model on the part of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administered the IKE Disaster Recovery Program in Illinois.


In this issue

  Recent Work

File IconFirst Half 2011 Foreclosure Filings and Auctions
September 2011 

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   

  [+] View All Publications

Woodstock in the News

Crain's Chicago Business: Uncle Sam, listing agent

Federal initiatives such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which gives municipalities federal money to buy up and rehab vacant properties, or demolish them, have been effective but can’t fully address the problem, said Katie Buitrago, policy and communications associate at Chicago-based Woodstock Institute.

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