Woodstock and fellow Chicago affordable housing advocates have been working with Housing Committee Chairman Harry Osterman (48th Ward) on a Lending Equity Ordinance (LEO), which was recently introduced in City Council.

What is the Lending Equity Ordinance?

The LEO is an important step towards creating more transparency around how banks are serving Chicago’s communities. It comes as a response to recent data (like this WBEZ/City Bureau investigation) and community reports that unequal access to mortgage loans is still a major barrier to building household wealth for communities of color.

The ordinance will require banks to submit data as part of the RFP process to do business with the City. That data will then be published online and on the City’s Data Portal. Banks will submit information on their lending practices, loan distribution across different neighborhoods, branch locations, and demographics of local employees.

The LEO will also establish an annual joint hearing held by the City Council Committee on Finance and the Committee on Housing and Real Estate, where alderpeople can hear public comments from impacted residents and where fair lending advocates can share data trends. The increased transparency and opportunities for public input will make banks more accountable to Chicago residents, and make sure that the City’s banking partners are doing right by Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Other cities have successfully implemented similar ordinances to create more transparency in how banks serve their residents. For example, Los Angeles publishes the raw data that banks submit, while Philadelphia and Boston create extensive annual reports on the lending practices and loan distribution of their banking partners.

How can you help?

Contact your alderperson and ask them to co-sponsor or support the ordinance. Ald. Harry Osterman (48) introduced the LEO, and Alds. Pat Dowell (3), Emma Mitts (37), David Moore (17), Scott Waguespack (32), Daniel La Spata (1), Matt Martin (47), Michael Rodriguez (22), and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25) have joined as co-sponsors.

Don’t know who your alderperson is or which ward you live in? You can search by address on the City’s website here.

Advocates created a fact sheet on the Lending Equity Ordinance, which you can download here.