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Public forum at IU Northwest addresses housing issues

A public forum addressing the issues of predatory lending and the loss of homes due to property tax debts will take place at Indiana University Northwest on Wednesday, March 31 at 5:30 p.m. in the Raintree Hall Auditorium. This forum is one of several events representing Public Service and Public Affairs Week (March 29 – April 2).

Panelists will include:

• Gary Councilman Chuck Hughes: Will address legislation that he proposed for property tax relief and his perceived problems with getting this legislation passed.

• Commissioner Rudy Clay: Will speak about property tax relief.

• Art Russell from Bank Calumet: Will explain what predatory lending is and how to avoid being a victim of such lending.

• IU Northwest Business Professor Joe Gomeztagle: Will discuss the recent shift of at least $100 million of Indiana’s tax burden from business and industry to private citizens.

• Two victims of predatory lending and/or persons who have lost their homes due to property tax debt.

• Representative from the Gary Housing Authority: Will explain how these growing issues impact the GHA.

These issues are growing problems in Northwest Indiana, according to SPEA Lecturer Jacqueline Gipson, J.D.

"Predatory lending is a particular problem for elderly people, though the elderly are not the only victims. Those that engage in predatory lending often send representatives out to prey on the elderly in their homes. Alternatively, predatory lenders make their initial contact with the elderly through phone solicitations where they befriend lonely, trusting people and entice them to take out loans to pay for goods and/or services that are unnecessary and very costly, even unaffordable," Gipson said.

Although the subject is complex, to summarize she said that the elderly are also particularly victimized by property tax debt.

"Many of the people in the region who are losing their homes due to property tax debt are retired people who have worked and retired. These people have been productive members of society and have raised their families for 20, 30, 40 years in their homes. After retirement, they find themselves on fixed incomes and unable to provide for their basic needs and pay the rising property taxes.

As a result businesses and institutions, often from outside the community, pay the delinquent tax debts and a lien is placed on the property. If the homeowner does not recoup the tax debt within one year, then they lose the property. So, a $40, 000 home might be lost for a delinquent tax debt of $7,000 or even less," she added.

Following the completion of the presentations, the floor will be open to the audience for questions. This event is free and open to the public as part of the Public Service and Public Affairs Week, sponsored by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Political Science, the Criminal Justice Club and the International Affairs Club at IU Northwest. For more information, please contact SPEA at (219) 980-6695.

Other Public Service and Public Affairs Week Events:

Monday, March 29

Lecture: Terrorist Actions in Iraq

7 p.m. in Library Conference Center

(Reception at 6 p.m.)

Thomas V. Fuentes was the on-scene commander of FBI operations in Iraq from July until September 2003. Fuentes is the special agent in charge of the FBI in Indianapolis. He also served for five years as chief of the Organized Crime Section at FBI headquarters in Washington. Also, during a tour of duty in San Francisco, Fuentes established an International Cybercrime squad.

Friday, April 2

The 14th Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect

9 a.m. in Savannah Auditorium

Confirmed guests include: Lake County Coroner David Pastrick, Jane Bisbee, deputy director for Child Welfare Services in Indiana and Bruce Hillman, director of the Lake County Division of Family and Children. Forum will address the state of child welfare policy and services in Indiana and Lake County. Lake County law enforcement and judicial officials will also be participating.

For more information, please contact SPEA at (219) 980-6695.



Media Contact:

Kim Kintz
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