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Debt

Series

The Bad Bet

How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost

Driven Into Debt

How Tickets Burden the Poor

Too Broke for Bankruptcy

How Bankruptcy Fails Those Who Need It Most

Debt Inc.

Lending and Collecting in America

Foreclosure Crisis

How Banks and Government Fail Homeowners

Stories

Hate Getting Parking Tickets in Chicago? Here’s How You Can Start Change-Making Conversations About the City’s Ticketing System.

We’ve created an event toolkit to help communities start or continue conversations about how Chicago’s parking and vehicle ticketing system drives motorists into debt and jeopardizes livelihoods.

Nonprofit Christian Hospital Suspends Debt Collection Lawsuits Amid Furor Over Suing Its Own Employees

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is reevaluating its policy after an MLK50-ProPublica investigation found that it had filed 8,300 lawsuits in the past five years, including against many of its own employees.

Chicago Can’t Hold Impounded Vehicles After Drivers File for Bankruptcy, Court Says

A federal appeals court said the city’s aggressive legal strategy, aimed at discouraging motorists with unpaid ticket debt from filing under Chapter 13, violated the basic protections of bankruptcy, and the city was doing so mostly to generate revenue.

Millionaire CEO of Nonprofit Hospital That Sues the Poor Promises Review of Policies

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare promised a policy review after an investigation by MLK50 and ProPublica found it had sued 8,300 patients — including its own employees — over medical debt. Its CEO has not responded to our questions.

Have You Been Sued by a Hospital, Doctor or Other Memphis Institution? Tell Us About It.

ProPublica and MLK50 are spending the year investigating the institutions that profit from people who are poor in Memphis. Share your story with us.

Low-Wage Workers Are Being Sued for Unpaid Medical Bills by a Nonprofit Christian Hospital That Employs Them

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has sued many of its own employees over unpaid medical bills and garnishes their wages; its health care plan prevents them from going to competitors with better financial assistance.

The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor

Nonprofit hospitals pay virtually no local, state or federal income tax. In return, they provide community benefits, including charity care to low-income patients. In Memphis, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has brought 8,300 lawsuits for unpaid medical bills in just five years.

This Memphis Hospital System Flouts IRS Rules by Not Publicly Posting Financial Assistance Policies

Nonprofit hospitals must post financial assistance policies for the public to see, including in emergency rooms. But Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s five Shelby County emergency rooms had no signs or displays when a reporter checked.

How We Tallied Medical Debt Lawsuits and Wage Garnishments in Memphis

We found that Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare filed more lawsuits and won more wage garnishment orders than any other hospital system in Shelby County. Here’s how we did it.

As Illinois Expands Gambling, It Will Also Try to Determine How Many Gambling Addicts It Has

Illinois will finally conduct a thorough study of the gambling problem in the state — the first such survey in nearly 30 years. It said it will spend more money to treat addiction, too.

Anatomy of the Gambling Bill

Illinois is going to dramatically expand gambling. Here’s the bill and what it means.

Illinois Is Poised to Become the Gambling Capital of the Midwest

And like the state’s last gambling expansion, in 2009, the massive new bill could bring trouble.

Of Course This Happened in Illinois. Why Wouldn’t It?

Lawmakers are making money from video gambling operators. A vote on gambling expansion may happen Friday.

Many People are Too Broke for Bankruptcy. A New Report Suggests Some Fixes.

For many people, filing for bankruptcy is a luxury that’s out of reach. A new report by the primary bankruptcy professional organization is full of recommendations that, if implemented, could help change that.

The Ticket Trap: Front to Back

The project gave us an opportunity to try a bunch of technical approaches that could help a small organization like ours develop sustainable news apps.

How Has the “Crack Cocaine of Gambling” Affected Illinois? The State Hasn’t Bothered to Check.

Since video gambling went live in 2012, more than 30,000 video slot and poker machines have been installed in the state and gamblers have lost more than $5 billion. Yet Illinois has failed to address the issue of gambling addiction in any meaningful way.

Everybody in Chicago’s Mayor’s Race Says They Want Ticket Reform

Proposals from the 14 candidates range from studying ticketing enforcement disparities to overhauling payment plans.

How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost

Lawmakers said legalizing video gambling would generate billions of dollars for the state. Instead, it’s proved to be little more than a money grab.

Do You Know Someone Struggling With Video Gambling? ​Help Us Understand Video Slot and Poker Addiction in Illinois.

More than 30,000 video gambling machines are scattered across Illinois, and gambling addiction appears to be on the rise.

How We Analyzed Video Gambling in Illinois

Here’s how we conducted an in-depth look at the rapid expansion of video gambling in the state and its financial and social costs.

Feeling Trapped by Vehicle Tickets? Let’s Talk About It — Live

We’re hosting a community forum on March 4 and would love to see you.

How to Use the Ticket Trap, Our New Database That Lets You Explore How Chicago Tickets Motorists and Collects Debt

We hope you’ll play around with it and let us know how we can make it better.

The Ticket Trap

We’ve collected data on 54 million tickets issued over the past two decades in the city. Search for your address and compare your ward with others, and see how Chicago’s reliance on ticketing affects motorists across the city.

We Want to Hear About Your Experiences With Vehicle Tickets, So We Created a Facebook Group

We’ll share our latest stories there and give you a preview of an upcoming project.

Chicago Task Force Will Take on Ticket and Debt Collection Reform

The group is part of an effort to make vehicle ticketing less unfair.

Chicago Throws Out 23,000 Duplicate Tickets Issued Since 1992 to Motorists Who Didn’t Have Vehicle Stickers

The move is the city’s latest effort to reform its troubled ticketing and debt collection practices.

Chicago City Council Approves Modest First Reforms on Ticketing and Debt

The changes signal a growing acknowledgement that the city’s reliance on fines and fees to generate revenue has come at a significant cost for some residents.

Top Chicago Alderman Adds to Growing Momentum for Ticket and Debt Reform

The proposal, the latest in a series of reforms aiming to respond to growing public pressure, would make it easier for motorists to avoid having their driver’s licenses suspended.

Chicago Considers Wiping Away Old Ticket Debt for Motorists Who File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The proposal is intended to discourage drivers from filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but it does nothing to change onerous payment plans for motorists who don’t file at all.

Chicago Alderman Proposes Reining in Ticket Penalties That Drove Thousands of Black Motorists Into Debt

The proposal would cap late penalties and create community service alternatives to some fines.

Chicago City Clerk Calls for Reforms of Vehicle Sticker Program

Anna Valencia proposed creating city sticker options so low-income drivers can afford to be in compliance and avoid costly tickets.

Download Chicago’s Parking Ticket Data Yourself

For the first time, the city’s database, which tracks more than 28 million parking and vehicle compliance tickets, is easily available to the public.

What’s the City of Chicago Doing About Its Problem With Duplicate Sticker Tickets?

Seven weeks after the city pledged to address the issue, drivers are still on the hook — and now Chicago’s ticketing practices are becoming an issue in the mayor’s race.

The “Terrible” Consequences of Chicago’s Ticketing Policies

The city tried to raise revenues by hiking the cost of sticker tickets, but instead hurt motorists in low-income, black neighborhoods.

Chicago Hiked the Cost of Vehicle City Sticker Violations to Boost Revenue. But It’s Driven More Low-Income, Black Motorists Into Debt.

Now, a former official regrets the move and wants the city to revisit it. Some policies, she said, are “terrible.”

How ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Worked Together to Find Thousands of Duplicate Tickets in Chicago

We heard from you about how ticket debt, especially from $200 city sticker citations, has affected you. And we would like your help as we continue our reporting.

Chicago Begins To Rethink How Bankruptcy Lawyers Get Paid

Judges are demanding that lawyers tell their clients that their other debts might not get paid, but their lawyers will.

Some States No Longer Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Fines. Will Illinois Join Them?

Our analysis shows suspensions tied to ticket debt disproportionately affect motorists in largely black sections of Chicago and its suburbs.

She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story

Still, we want to tell you a little bit about her, and about some of the other people we interviewed, because they helped inform our ticket debt investigation.

How Chicago Ticket Debt Sends Black Motorists Into Bankruptcy

A cash-strapped city employs punitive measures to collect from cash-strapped black residents — and lawyers benefit.

The Many Roads to Bankruptcy

Here are some stories of Chicagoans driven into ticket debt.

Without Fanfare, Equifax Makes Bankruptcy Change That Affects Hundreds of Thousands

For years, an Equifax policy has treated some Chapter 13 filers differently than the other two major credit rating agencies. After ProPublica asked about it, the company said it would change the policy.

Chicago’s Bankruptcy Boom

ProPublica’s analysis of racial disparities in bankruptcy revealed a skyrocketing number of filings in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. But most of the cases will fall apart before the debts are wiped away.

Bankruptcy: What’s the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

Key differences between the chapters make choosing the right one critical for success. Using our analysis, we explain how they work and how people fare under each.

Have You Seriously Considered Filing for Bankruptcy?

If you’ve really thought about filing for bankruptcy, ProPublica wants to hear from you — even if you ultimately decided against it.

In the South, Bankruptcy Is Different, Especially for Black Debtors

Only in the South is Chapter 13 the predominant form of bankruptcy. We mapped Chapter 13’s usage to show that it breaks not only along regional, but also racial lines.

Data Analysis: Bankruptcy and Race in America

An in-depth discussion of racial patterns in bankruptcy filings and outcomes

How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans

Black people struggling with debts are far less likely than their white peers to gain lasting relief from bankruptcy, according to a ProPublica analysis. Primarily to blame is a style of bankruptcy practiced by lawyers in the South.

What Can Be Done Right Now to Fix the Legal System for Debt Collection

America’s out-of-date, unfair laws for collecting debts could be dramatically improved by these simple steps.

The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods

In a first-of-its-kind analysis, ProPublica reveals that the suits are far more common in black communities than white ones.

How We Analyzed Racial Disparity in Debt Collection Lawsuits

An explanation of how we analyzed whether debt collection lawsuits disproportionately impact black communities.

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