Try Diversity! Think “Out of the Box” to Expand CRA

Try Diversity! Think “Out of the Box” to Expand CRA

Same moves, same faces, same old ideas ─that about sums up the debates around the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) over the last 20 years. Yet last week, at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition Annual Conference, I had the pleasure of bringing something new and “out of the box” to the discussion: Try diversity! CRA is a vitally important law that needs improvements. But first, a little background: The CRA is critical to the story of how people of color gained economic mobility in the US. Sad to believe, but ten years before the act passed, it was actually legal for banks and other companies to refuse to extend credit based on…
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Greenlining is Non-Partisan, but House Republicans Are Wrong

Greenlining is Non-Partisan, but House Republicans Are Wrong

I woke up this morning in disbelief. Today, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved a package of bills with deceitful titles working to fundamentally weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The proposals — supported by 10 Democrats and 232 Republicans — undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ability to protect consumers by  eliminating the position of Director, ending CFPB’s independent funding stream and making it easier for CFPB rulings to be overturned. In short, they wreck all the guarantees of independence that consumer advocates wanted for the bureau. Over the last few years, the CFPB has done more to rectify unscrupulous business practices that caused the foreclosure crisis than any…
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50 Years Later: War on Poverty Must Be a War on Racial Inequality

50 Years Later: War on Poverty Must Be a War on Racial Inequality

This week many celebrated the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union Address boldly calling for a War on Poverty. While I applaud the flood of acknowledgements, I am unnerved by the lack of attention to the foundation of President Johnson’s speech: poverty has racial dimensions and our nation is responsible for creating opportunities out of poverty. We need visionary leaders, like President Johnson, who understand that a “war on poverty” can’t be waged without a war on racial inequity: “Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope–some because of their poverty, and some because of their color, and all too many because of both. Our…
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When Complaining is a GOOD Thing!

When Complaining is a GOOD Thing!

“In many cultures, complainers suffer cruel imperatives of optimism: lighten up, suck it up, chin up, buck up. In other words: shut up.” –Sarah Kendzior, Why Complaining Is a Good Thing This blog is a request to go against the grain, because I want people to complain! If you haven’t heard, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched a Consumer Complaint Database in March 2012. The database holds a breadth of aggregate consumer grievances that allow you to track which banking and financial companies were complained about, the services provided, and how the complaints were resolved. Unlike pre-crisis data, this publicly available database allows for anyone to track positive or negative…
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Got Cash?

Got Cash?

If you’ve got cash, you can get a home. But if you don’t, you may be out of luck. The California housing market is back on the rise with homes selling like hotcakes to the wealthy, “empty-nesters” downsizing, investors, and foreign buyers. A recent report by Goldman Sachs estimates that nationwide, homes purchased with all cash account for more than half of all sales in both number and dollar volume. In the San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont area, for example, roughly 30 percent of homes were purchased with all cash in the first quarter of this year alone. Because sellers love the simplicity and speed of cash transactions, this means that in California,…
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Saving YOUR Home

Saving YOUR Home

While the recent foreclosure crisis devastated communities of color across the nation, Californians were especially hard hit. Since the mortgage meltdown, we have heard countless stories of borrowers mistreated by fraudulent lenders, loan modifiers, and peddlers of phony foreclosure relief. These scammers targeted low-income and minority consumers who have been historically denied access to the American Dream. But it’s rare that we hear these stories directly from the families affected. Over the next couple weeks, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) will release a series of videos in which clients tell their stories. HERA is a California-based nonprofit legal service and advocacy organization that works to ensure that everyone is…
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David Glover: A Friend to Many, a Hero to All

David Glover: A Friend to Many, a Hero to All

Wednesday afternoon, Oakland lost a true hero, David Glover. David was a beacon of progress, a tireless advocate for justice, and an inspirational orator. David had a way with words. His resonant baritone directed and illuminated the path of countless life journeys. He loved Oakland, political discourse, sports, and the music of the black diaspora, particularly jazz. I first met David when he and my father were members of the Oakland Jazz Alliance (OJA) board in the late ‘80’s. The OJA brought jazz into Oakland public schools and organized concerts with prominent icons such as Mary Stallings, Eddie Harris, Branford Marsalis, Donald Byrd, David Newman, and Marlena Shaw.  David paved…
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Zombie Foreclosure Apocalypse!

Zombie Foreclosure Apocalypse!

Talk about making light of a situation: a great organization, Reinvestment Partners, just created a YouTube video to explain a growing issue: Zombie Foreclosures. While Zombie Foreclosures don’t generally involve eating brains, they’re still a real problem. Zombie Foreclosures or bank walk-aways occur when a property is stuck between a homeowner who left the property during foreclosure and a bank that won’t take ownership through a foreclosure sale – perhaps because it would cost more to fix it up than the bank could make by selling it. The property cannot be sold, because the foreclosure is still in play, and technically neither the borrower nor bank fully own it. In…
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Reviving Oakland and Preserving Affordable Housing

Reviving Oakland and Preserving Affordable Housing

For years I have been hearing from Oakland natives who are concerned about the city’s change in demographics. A city rooted in the history of African American civil rights and culture and once the center of Northern California’s black community, Oakland has lost nearly one-fourth of its black population to mass gentrification. As an Oakland native, I’m torn by the city’s new “revival.” A recent NPR article, “Seeking Oakland’s Soul In the ‘New Oakland,’” echoed my frustrations and disconnect with this new place. The city is more beautiful than ever, attracts a wealth of people and was #5 on the New York Times list of Places to Visit in 2012.…
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