This story was first published in ProPublica Illinois’ weekly newsletter. Sign up for that here.

ProPublica Illinois has launched its first Facebook group: Driven Into Debt: Chicago Drivers Navigating Vehicle Ticket Troubles. It’s for people affected by Chicago’s vehicle ticketing policies and practices, including those struggling with debt or bankruptcy. Others interested in learning more about the issues are also welcome.

We want to hear your stories and learn from your experiences, all to inform our reporting, and to build a forum for community members to share information.

We hope you can help us.

The group will be moderated by ProPublica Illinois reporter Melissa Sanchez and WBEZ digital editor Elliott Ramos, who have collaborated on several ticketing investigations. If you join, you’ll be able to communicate with them, as well as get the scoop on our soon-to-be-launched interactive database about ticketing.

Melissa and Elliott have been talking recently on the radio about their work, which revealed that Chicago’s vehicle ticket and debt collection policies disproportionately affect low-income and minority motorists and have led many of them into massive debt and even bankruptcy.

Listen on WBEZ: Melissa and Elliott talk about the city of Chicago’s decision to create a task force to address the impact of ticketing. From Melissa: “Maybe this will be the beginning of a change … but I’m also conscious of the fact that sometimes things get task-forced to death.”

Listen on The 21st: The two reporters discuss how their work prompted the city to throw out 23,000 duplicate sticker tickets and whether that will help people. From Elliott: “For a lot of these individuals, it might seem nice to say we’re going to dismiss all of these tickets. A lot of the damage was already done. Their licenses were suspended. Some of them declared bankruptcy. And many of them lost their cars.”

Filed under: