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SW Side community bank is resurrected

While hundreds of community banks were taken over by larger institutions following the recent financial crash, an historic small bank that has served immigrants on the Southwest Side is bucking that trend — it’s being resurrected (as it were) as a community-based institution.

The Resurrection Project and the Self-Help Credit Union will celebrate what they’re calling  the re-opening of Second Federal Credit Union on Saturday, September 21, with a press conference at 10 a.m. and cultural program at 11 a.m. at 3960 W. 26th.

That’s the location of the main office of Second Federal Savings and Loan, which opened in 1923.  As the needs of its immigrant clientele changed over the years, Second Federal pioneered making loans to undocumented immigrants who lacked Social Security numbers.  Like many institutions, it was weakened as home values dropped for properties on which it held mortgages.

Last year the FDIC closed Second Federal, rejecting a bid for the bank’s assets and loans by TRP and Self-Help, and sold its  three branches and $176 million in deposits to Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial Corp, which has been actively acquiring failing banks in the area.

At the time, U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez slammed the FDIC’s decision, saying it needlessly placed hundreds of Latino homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

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Pay Day Loan Reform — and Alternatives

Two members of the Illinois congressional delegation are offering competing legislation to address predatory pay day lending, and local consumer advocates are lining up in support of Senator Richard Durbin’s bill and against one authored by Representative Luis Gutierrez.

Meanwhile, community organizations that provide financial counseling say much stronger protection against predatory lending is needed — while community credit unions are pioneering affordable alternatives to pay day loans.

Gutierrez’s bill, HR 1214, would limit interest and fees to $15 on a $100 loan, but since that applies to a single pay period, it amounts to an annual rate of 390 percent for a two-week loan, advocates point out. Durbin’s bill, SB 500, would cap interest for all consumer loan products at a 36 percent annual rate.

The House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, which Gutierrez chairs, will hold a hearing on HR 1214 tomorrow (April 2).

That bill would provide congressional authorization “to a product that is not good for low-income borrowers,” said Lynda DeLaforgue of Citizen Action Illinois. “It sends a signal that this is a legitimate product.”

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  • Telling people’s stories, an ethnic media success September 2, 2015
        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]
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