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Greetings from Woodstock Institute

posted by Geoff Smith

Hello, Credit Slips readers.  My name is Geoff Smith.  I am Senior Vice President at Woodstock Institute, and I will be joining you as a guest blogger this week.  As Bob Lawless pointed out, my guest blogging coincides with the release of a Woodstock Institute report examining patterns of personal bankruptcy filings in Cook County, IL (where Chicago is located and Woodstock Institute is based).  I will talk about that report in more detail in a forthcoming post, but first I wanted to give a bit of background on Woodstock and myself.

Woodstock Institute is an applied research and policy organization that focuses on examining the impact that financial products and practices have on lower-wealth communities and communities of color.  We have been around since 1973, and, over that time, Woodstock has been an active player in local and national debates around how to protect consumers and communities from abusive financial products and how to increase responsible investments by mainstream financial institutions in these markets.  Our work has touched on a broad range of topics, but in recent years our key program areas have focused on examining the impact subprime lending and subsequent foreclosures have on communities; protecting consumers from high-cost consumer loan products; and advocating for the creation of a strong consumer financial protection agency and an expanded and more effective Community Reinvestment Act.  Recently, we have started to focus on the longer term implications of the economic and foreclosure crisis on economic security and opportunity in communities of color that have been the hardest hit by the downturn.  I will expand more on this in future posts, but our bankruptcy report is one of a broader series of applied research reports examining this issue. You can find out more about our work on our website, which includes a regularly-updated blog and an interactive tool for examining mortgage lending and foreclosures in the Chicago area. You can also keep up with us on Facebook , Twitter , and Youtube.

Just some quick background on who I am.  My background is in geography with a focus on local community and economic development.  I have been at Woodstock for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to be an observer of and participant in critical recent debates on community development and bank regulatory policy.  I hope that guest blogging this week gives me the opportunity not only to share Woodstock’s perspective, but to learn from Credit Slip’s esteemed readers and commenters. 

I also want to thank Bob Lawless for this opportunity.  Woodstock first met Bob about a year ago when he presented at one of our events at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago entitled “Beyond Foreclosures.”  Since then, Bob has been a tremendous resource helping us better understand the implications of our findings on bankruptcy patterns in Cook County, sharing with us his research on racial disparities in bankruptcy chapter choice, and generously inviting me to guest blog this week at Credit Slips.  Thanks, Bob.  


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