CHICAGO - Fourteen local banks have banded together with community groups and city government to help victims of predatory lending.

In a pilot project believed to be the first of its kind, the banks have committed $4 million to provide legal assistance and refinancing to Chicago-area residents trapped in high-rate, high-fee home loans. The consortium made its first loan this week, to an elderly woman who had been persuaded to refinance her entire home to pay for repairs to her front steps.

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