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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:19pm
Thu Jun 2, 2016

Federal Consumer Watchdog Proposes Crackdown On Payday Lending Practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed new regulations Thursday to crack down on the payday lending industry. 

Payday lending provides short-term access to credit, but usually comes with high interest rates, often in the triple digits, and expensive fees.

"The consumer bureau is proposing strong protections aimed at ending payday debt traps," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a news release. "Too many borrowers seeking a short-term cash fix are saddled with loans they cannot afford and sink into long-term debt. It's much like getting into a taxi just to ride across town and finding yourself stuck in a ruinously expensive cross-country journey. By putting in place mainstream, common-sense lending standards, our proposal would prevent lenders from succeeding by setting up borrowers to fail."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:40pm
Thu Jun 2, 2016

Chicago Aldermen, Advocates Denounce Consolidation Plans For City Colleges Child Development Program

A coalition of early childhood education advocates spoke out Thursday morning against plans at the City Colleges of Chicago to consolidate child development programs to a single location at Harry Truman College in the North Side Uptown neighborhood.

Four Chicago aldermen joined the advocates at a morning press conference before the City Colleges Board of Trustees meeting. Coalition members, including representatives from the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, said consolidating the educational programs could adversely affect early childhood education students living on the city's South and West Sides, where several programs are closing.

"This will have an enormous hardship on students trying to get to the North Side. It will devastate these programs, and it will take needed support services out of these communities," said Tony Johnston, president of the Cook County College Teachers Union, which represents full-time faculty and other City Colleges staffers. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:54pm
Wed May 25, 2016

Illinois Renters Must Earn Nearly $20 An Hour To Afford A Modest Two-Bedroom Apartment, Report Finds

Minimum wage earners in Illinois must work 97 hours a week, year round to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in the state, according to the annual "Out of Reach" report for 2016.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition and Housing Action Illinois jointly released the report, which shows that the gap between wages and rents continues to widen both nationally and in Illinois.

The Fair Market Rent (FMR) price for a two-bedroom unit in Illinois is $1,039, up from $977 last year. That means Illinois renters must now earn $19.98 per hour, or at least $41,567 annually, to afford a two-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. 

Overall, Illinois has the nation's 16th most expensive two-bedroom housing wage. Nationally, the average wage necessary to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental is $20.30.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:02pm
Tue May 24, 2016

Undocumented Chicago Activist To Sue Federal Immigration Agency Over DACA Denial

An undocumented Chicago woman and activist plans to sue a federal immigration agency Wednesday, alleging her deferred action renewal application was unjustly denied because of her past participation in civil disobedience actions. 

Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, 29, came to the United States from Mexico City at the age of six and has lived in Chicago ever since.

She is an organizer with the Chicago-based Organized Communities Against Deportations and has engaged in numerous protests over U.S. immigration policy. 

In March 2013, Unzueta Carrasco, who graduated from Whitney Young High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago, was granted a two-year protection against deportation under the 2012 federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Her application to renew her DACA status was denied in August 2015. 

In denying Unzueta Carrasco's DACA renewal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cited "public safety concerns" with her case, pointing to her participation in civil disobedience actions between 2009 and 2013. The denial makes note of Unzueta Carrasco being arrested and charged with "civil disobedience, resisting arrest, obstruction of traffic and reckless conduct" in May 2013, shortly after she received DACA status.

Quick Hit
by Michael Joyce
2:00pm
Mon May 23, 2016

Housing Activists March Through Logan Square In Protest Of Gentrification

The voices of the displaced were heard throughout Logan Square on Saturday as demonstrators shouted and chanted over a bed of drums and shakers, calling on Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) to stop the gentrification of the neighborhood.

Local advocacy groups Somos Logan Square, Centro Autonomo and Grassroots Illinois Action came together for an action titled, "Our Neighborhood is Not for Sale."

The march started outside Moreno's office, located at 2740 W. North Ave., and eventually moved on to the nearby Twin Towers development.

Antonio Gutierrez, development coordinator of Centro Autonomo's housing project, says such actions are necessary because the alderman refuses to establish a dialogue with advocacy groups.

"We have tried to set up meetings, as we saw today [when] we went to his office," said Gutierrez. "They just looked out, locked the door. They didn't invite us in. That's what we're seeing with Joe Moreno, a closed-door policy."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:01pm
Thu May 19, 2016

Mental Health Advocates Illustrate 'Devastating' Impact Of Illinois Budget Impasse During Chicago Rally

Mental health advocates say the state budget impasse is having a "devastating" impact on services and pushing state psychiatric facilities to the point where they can't afford basic necessities like toilet paper.  

Many mental health services have gone unfunded during the 11-month impasse.

Mental Health AmericaNAMI Chicago (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Thresholds and Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare were among the groups and service providers who rallied at the Thompson Center Thursday morning, demanding an end to the state budget stalemate. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:20pm
Thu May 19, 2016

Chicago Car Wash Workers Dealt Major Blow In Wage Theft Case (VIDEO)

Eight former Little Village Car Wash workers who have been fighting for years to recoup over $262,000 in alleged stolen wages faced a major setback Thursday. 

A court hearing that had been scheduled in the wage theft case, which dates back to 2012, was canceled after the employer abruptly filed for bankruptcy.

Workers had been expecting a ruling Thursday in the case, which the Illinois Labor Department brought against the employer to recover unpaid wages stemming from minimum wage and overtime violations. 

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
4:36pm
Wed May 18, 2016

Fairness Debate On Democratic Presidential Process Boils Over As MSNBC Host Says DNC Chair 'Should Step Down'

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the Oregon primary against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, beating the alleged party favorite 56 percent to 44 percent. Sanders narrowly lost the primary in Kentucky, where Independents were not allowed to vote, with the divide between winner and loser being less than 2,000 votes.

Sanders' continued wins -- he has triumphed over Clinton in 20 states -- reinforces the arguments of some who say the presidential process has been rigged in the favor of the former Secretary of State from the start.

Quick Hit
by Progress Illinois
3:20pm
Wed May 18, 2016

Guest Article: 35 Years Of Workers Leading The Effort To Improve Fast-Food Jobs

The following is written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas.

This month people like Adriana Alvarez will come to Oak Brook, Ill. for the annual McDonald's shareholders' meeting. As McDonald's pats itself on the back for its highest-ever stock price, Adriana and hundreds of other McDonald's workers will protest and call for $15 and union rights.

Adriana is someone to watch. Earlier this year she met with other fast food workers in Denmark. There she said: "I really fear for Christmas because I can't afford the toys my son wants and I know he will be disappointed."

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