“There is a very real concern that one of the barriers to economicrecovery is the reluctance of financial institutions to lend and investin Chicago’s low-wealth communities” said Dory Rand, President ofWoodstock Institute.

To identify areas of need and opportunity in the region’s communitiesand discuss ways to overcome regulatory and economic challenges,Woodstock Institute invited community leaders, leading bankers, andrepresentatives of federal banking regulators to share theirexperiences since the economic downturn.

The forum, co-sponsored by the Illinois Community Investment Coalition,a coalition of community reinvestment organizations convened byWoodstock Institute, sought to raise awareness of the lending andinvestment activities of local financial institutions.

“Both the banks and banking regulators reassured us that affordablerental housing, small business development, and investments innon-profit financial intermediaries remain priorities,” said CalvinHolmes, Executive Director of the Chicago Community Loan Fund and acoalition member. “But we need quantifiable lending and investmentcommitments to make sure low-wealth communities are well served.”

Over 80 community stakeholders and representatives from municipalgovernments, housing counseling agencies, financial institutions, andregulatory agencies participated, representing the entire Chicagoregion.

Speakers at the event included neighborhood development experts fromthe Community Economic Development Association of Cook County, theChicago Community Loan Fund, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago,Inc., and the Chicago Rehab Network. The event also featured bankingregulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Officeof the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of ThriftSupervision as well as bankers from Shorebank, Harris Bank, and JPMorgan Chase.