U.S. Bank to Fix up Foreclosed Homes
(Chicago Tribune) — A long-shot story like this has the makings of a Hollywood script. A group of bank customers and community organizers from Chicago’s West Side and near western suburbs decided they weren’t just going to mourn the loss of a local bank that had done so much to help neighborhoods. They were going to convince the new owners, from a huge out-of-state bank holding company, to invest in struggling areas like Austin and West Garfield Park. They were going to ask for real money too: $25 million. And if they needed to hold protest rallies or charter a bus toWashington or persuade a congressman to get on their side, they would do it.
Ignored at first, they eventually got the bank’s attention, and now they’ve got what they really wanted: a financial commitment. While they didn’t get the $25 million they were dreaming of, 16 months after Chicago’s Park National Bank was shut by regulators and taken over by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank, the ad hoc group known as the Coalition to Save Community Banking has something to show for its activism. On Friday, the coalition and U.S. Bank will announce that the bank will provide $600,000 in no-interest loans to buy six homes out of foreclosure, renovate them and sell them at cost. If the project breaks even, U.S. Bank will increase its lending to $800,000 in 2012 and $1 million in 2013, for a total of up to $2.4 million.