Putting People Ahead of Cars: New Framework for Transportation Planning

Greenlining Framework Shows How to Include Community Voices, End Neglect of Low-Income Neighborhoods & Communities of Color

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – For too long, advocates say, transportation planners have focused on cars rather than people while neglecting communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. To shift this pattern, The Greenlining Institute offers planners and community advocates a step-by-step guide to a more community-centered planning process, with its Mobility Equity Framework: How to Make Transportation Work for People, released today.

“Good transportation planning starts with human needs and figures out how to meet those needs,” explained Greenlining Environmental Equity Manager Hana Creger, lead author of the Framework. “Too often, planners have focused on cars, resulting in projects that actually harm communities rather than meeting their needs. This framework provides a step-by-step approach to making sure we put people first.”

Focusing specifically on low-income communities of color — most often left out of planning decisions — the Framework outlines a three-step process for a) determining the community’s transportation needs, b) conducting a mobility equity analysis that evaluates such factors as affordability, accessibility and impacts on air pollution, and c) putting affected communities at the center of final decision-making. The Framework urges use of a Participatory Budgeting process, a democratic form of decision-making that has gained support at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the Bay Area and at Caltrans.

“Too often we’ve seen freeways divide and damage neighborhoods while failing to serve the people who live in them,” Creger said. “We hope this Framework will help both transportation planners and community members ensure that human needs come first.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Diversity, Inclusion & Justice: Greenlining Institute Seeks Dialogue on New Strategies

New Framework Document Focuses on “4 Ws”; New Working Group Planned

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today The Greenlining Institute released its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework: Reclaiming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Racial Justice, hoping to spark a larger dialogue on how to revitalize a diversity movement that, despite significant gains, has barely moved the needle at the top levels of leading corporations and government institutions.

“Diversity advocates have certainly managed to raise awareness and generate some movement with campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite,” said Greenlining Institute Director of Diversity and Inclusion Danielle Beavers. “But people of color continue to be redlined in the job market, with chronically higher unemployment, and remain badly underrepresented at the top decision-making levels of our major institutions, while the racial wealth gap has barely budged. We believe this framework will stimulate discussion and help energize a movement to reclaim diversity, equity and inclusion as tools for racial justice.”

The framework lays out the differences between diversity, equity and inclusion, charts the evolution of diversity campaigns over the decades, and aims to help diversity advocates turn ideals into a concrete tool using the “Four Ws” – who, what, where and why. Beavers seeks to put together a working group to build on the Framework’s outline and create a toolkit that will help advocates push corporations and other major institutions toward diversity, equity and inclusion policies based on justice.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Melissa Harris-Perry, Dolores Huerta to Headline Greenlining’s 25th Anniversary Economic Summit

Speaker Lineup Also Includes Alicia Garza, Sen. Kevin de León

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – This year, The Greenlining Institute will mark its 25th anniversary as an organization with a very special edition of its annual Economic Summit on May 24. The stellar lineup of speakers and awardees includes legendary farm worker organizer Dolores Huerta and Melissa Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University and former MSNBC host, as well as Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and California state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. Each year, Greenlining’s Economic Summit brings together a diverse array of leaders to connect, brainstorm, celebrate and strategize on important economic issues affecting communities of color. See Greenlining’s Economic Summit web page for detailed information on the day’s program.

Last year’s Summit sold out, and this year’s is expected to as well. Journalists wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to Bruce Mirken at brucem@greenlining.org.

WHAT: The Greenlining Institute’s 25th anniversary Economic Summit

WHO: Speakers and awardees include Dolores Huerta, Melissa Harris-Perry, Alicia Garza, Sen. Kevin de León and others to be announced.

WHEN: Thursday, May 24, 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. (registration opens at 8)

WHERE: Oakland Convention Center, 550 10th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

NOTE: The Greenlining Institute was officially incorporated on March 8, 1993. Throughout this anniversary season we will be sharing highlights and memories on our blog and social media accounts, using the hashtag #Greenlining25.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining

CPUC Protects Access to Phone Service for Low-Income Californians

Advocates Praise Move to Protect LifeLine Program from Federal Cuts

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – At the urging of The Greenlining Institute and other advocates, the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a plan spearheaded by Commissioner Martha Guzman-Aceves to protect low-income Californians from drastic federal cutbacks to eligibility for the LifeLine program. LifeLine provides affordable phone service (including smartphone data) to low-income customers.

“This decision marks a great milestone in California’s resistance to the federal war on low-income Americans,” said Greenlining Institute Telecommunications Legal Counsel Vinhcent Le. “From preserving access to affordable healthcare and growing momentum for state net neutrality protections, to today’s decision on LifeLine, California has consistently fought to protect its most vulnerable citizens.”

Eligibility for LifeLine is based on either income or participation in a variety of government assistance programs for low-income people. Previously, the FCC removed the National School Lunch Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from the list of programs that qualify people for LifeLine assistance, potentially cutting off over 81,000 current participants and blocking another 322,000 more from eligibility based on income.

The new decision preserves current eligibility rules, with the state making up the cost difference. Greenlining was joined by a variety of other consumer advocates, including TURN and the Center for Accessible Technology, in advocating for today’s decision.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

 

Flagstar Commits $600 Million Over 5 Years to Community Investment; Acquires 8 Desert Community Bank Branches in San Bernardino County

BANK COMMITS TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND SERVICES FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

Contacts: Nehama Rogozen, California Reinvestment Coalition, 216-973-2524, nrogozen@calreinvest.org
Vedika Ahuja, The Greenlining Institute, 510-926-4012, vedikaa@greenlining.org

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA – Michigan-based Flagstar Bank is acquiring Desert Community Bank in California, establishing its footprint in San Bernardino County. As part of this acquisition, Flagstar worked closely with the California Reinvestment Coalition, the Greenlining Institute, and local members to negotiate Community Agreements that meet the gold standard for bank investments, lending, and services in communities of color and low-income communities, committing $600 million to local community investments. Bank agreements of this type are rare, and this agreement is a credit to Flagstar’s commitment to community development, and the hard work of local partners.

“We are excited about teaming up with the California Reinvestment Coalition and the Greenlining Institute to make Flagstar’s acquisition of Desert Community Bank a win for the new communities Flagstar will serve in San Bernardino County,” said Alessandro DiNello, president and chief executive officer of Flagstar Bank. “We share their interest in ensuring the underserved have full access to our lending, banking and investment services, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with them in crafting an agreement that elevates and prioritizes community needs.”

As part of these agreements, Flagstar will annually invest approximately 20% of the DCB network total deposits over the next five years in activities such as community development, mortgages for low-income families, small business loans, low-fee checking accounts, and services for immigrant customers. Flagstar will also explore opening three branches in underserved neighborhoods, creating a formal supplier diversity program, and prioritizing employment opportunities within the local communities. Flagstar has agreed to release data on benchmarks and meet with the community annually to track progress.

“Community support and the input from our members was critical,” said Paulina Gonzalez, the Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition. “We are grateful for their work to make sure that Flagstar Bank will serve Inland Empire communities and provide access to products and services that low- and moderate-income families and communities of color in San Bernardino need.” The members who were involved in the process were the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, Springboard CDFI, Springboard Social Enterprises Credit.org, Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire, Inland Fair Housing and Mediation Board, and Coachella Valley Housing Coalition.

“We’re delighted that Flagstar bank has made a real commitment to the San Bernardino area’s low-income communities and communities of color. Flagstar’s investments will mean mortgages for low-income families, small business loans, low-fee checking accounts that working families can afford, and more,” said Orson Aguilar, President of the Greenlining Institute. “We’re excited to work with them in coming years to turn this commitment into real help for the community.” Greenlining partners who were involved in the process were the Asian Business Association Inland Empire, National Latina Business Women Association of the Inland Empire, Am Pac, and the Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the Community Reinvestment Act and economic equity, please visit http://www.calreinvest.org/crc-issues/community-reinvestment-act or https://greenlining.org/issues-impact/economic-equity/.

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New Online Tool Connects Californians To Energy-Saving & Climate Programs

UpLift Resource Finder Helps Families, Governments, Community Groups Find Help to Save Energy & Money, Fight Climate Change

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – Today The Greenlining Institute released a new online tool designed to help Californians – individuals and families as well as community groups and local governments – access the many resources funded by cap-and-trade revenues through the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The UpLift Resource Finder is the latest update to UpLiftCA.org, the site created by Greenlining to tell the story of how California climate policies benefit underserved communities. A Spanish language version of the Resource Finder will launch next week.

Until now, Californians have had no central, user-friendly place where individuals or community groups could find all this information assembled in a way that’s easy to access.

“California uses money from polluters to help communities plant trees and community gardens, build affordable housing near public transit, and much more, and helps families weatherize their homes, get solar power and purchase electric cars,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Manager Emi Wang. “But until now there’s been no central, user-friendly place you could go to learn what’s available that might meet your needs. The Resource Finder solves that problem.”

The new tool was designed to be easy to use, even for those with little knowledge of California’s climate programs: Users answer a few simple questions, and the Resource Finder directs them to a summary of GGRF-funded resources they’re likely to be eligible for, with links to the actual programs online. For more advanced users, a separate interface displays all the resources and lets users filter them in various ways.

“By using money from polluters to fund resources that offer real help to underserved communities and low-income Californians, our state has created an example for the world to follow,” Wang said. “By bringing this information together in one place, we’ve made all this help easier for everyone to access.”

NOTE: Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez is available for Spanish language interviews. Stories of real Californians benefitting from the state’s climate policies can be found at http://upliftca.org/in-our-neighborhoods/.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

California Okays New Electric Vehicle Charging Projects to Boost Access in Low-Income Communities

$43 Million in Smaller Projects Part of Larger Push to Grow EV Access

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Today the California Public Utilities Commission approved 15 proposals to expand electric vehicle access and charging infrastructure submitted last year by Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric under Senate Bill 350 (De León). The projects, considered under “expedited review,” were revised to increase EV access in low-income communities and will support more than 5,300 new charging points overall.

The approved projects cover a variety of needs, ranging from facilities to charge school buses with renewable power to education and incentives for EV dealers.

These smaller projects build on earlier commitments by the utilities to install a minimum of 1,625 electric vehicle charging stations in disadvantaged and low-income communities,  and are connected to a larger batch of projects currently being considered. Overall, the just-approved and pending proposals represent a $1 billion investment in new EV infrastructure and related transportation electrification projects.

“The original projects were underwhelming in terms of delivering concrete benefits to low-income communities of color, the neighborhoods hit first and worst by air pollution and climate change,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Legal Counsel Joel Espino, who led Greenlining’s advocacy in the proceedings. “Fortunately, SB 350 provides solid legal grounds for the CPUC to modify these proposals to ensure that all Californians can truly benefit from the growth of clean transportation, and we’re grateful the Commission acted.”

For additional background on the connections between EVs, California climate efforts, and low-income communities of color, see Greenlining’s “Electric Vehicles for All” online toolkit, authored by Espino. For real-world examples of how EV efforts and other California climate policies benefit underserved Californians, visit UpliftCA.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Tax Bill Spells Disaster for Americans of Color, Greenlining Institute Says

Programs that Working Families Depend on Face Cuts to Fund Corporate Tax Breaks

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director,  415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The tax “reform” bill just passed by the House and Senate spells disaster for Americans of color and all working families, The Greenlining Institute said today. The bill gives huge, permanent tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals but only modest and temporary relief to working families, while setting the stage for the destruction of the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs essential to working Americans.

Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar made the following statement:

“There’s a reason this bill has been called the #GOPTaxScam on social media. It pretends to be a tax cut, but most working families will eventually see their taxes go up. Worse, it selectively targets Americans of color, who already sit on the losing end of a racial wealth gap that this bill will make worse.

“For decades, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos have disproportionately lacked health insurance, but the Affordable Care Act went a long way toward closing that gap. By sabotaging Obamacare, this fake reform puts the health and economic survival of millions of Americans of color at risk. By exploding the deficit, this tax scam sets the stage for devastating cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs upon which tens of millions depend.

“I said earlier this year that the president and Congress had declared war on Americans of color. This tax bill shows that was no exaggeration.”

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

New Mortgage Report Documents Gentrification in Oakland, Long Beach, Other CA Communities

Most Loans in Low-Income Tracts Don’t Go to Low-Income Buyers; Non-Bank Lenders Soar

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – A new analysis of California home mortgage data by The Greenlining Institute and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, to be released Dec. 12, documents what the authors call “a statistical portrait of gentrification.” The analysis, based on data collected by federal regulators for mortgages issued in 2015, shows a number of other concerning patterns, including continuing racial disparities and a startling rise in the role of non-bank lenders. Researchers reviewed statewide data as well as local statistics for Long Beach, Oakland and Fresno.

“African American and Latino borrowers continue to receive a disproportionately low share of home purchase and refinance loans, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said report co-author Vedika Ahuja, Greenlining’s Economic Equity Senior Program Manager. “We see a lot of home purchase loans in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, but few of them going to low- and moderate-income borrowers.”

Journalists can follow this link to preview the report, State of Gentrification: Home Lending to Communities of Color in California, which isembargoed until 12:01 a.m. PST on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Key findings include:

  • Latinos and Blacks remain severely underrepresented in home purchase and refinance loan originations. Combined, they make up 43.8 percent of California’s population but only receive 24.2 percent of home purchase loans in the state.
  • Home purchase loans in low- to moderate-income census tracts across California vastly exceeded loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers – creating a statistical portrait of gentrification. This discrepancy is more pronounced in Long Beach and Oakland, both experiencing notable gentrification, than in Fresno. In Long Beach, loans in LMI census tracts from the top 10 lenders exceeded loans to LMI borrowers by four to one, suggesting that middle and upper income borrowers are displacing lower income buyers in these neighborhoods. In Oakland the ratio was roughly three to one.
  • The Community Reinvestment Act, which has led to over $1 trillion in investments, loans, and services to low-income neighborhoods over the past 40 years, may be inadvertently impacted by rampant gentrification pressures. Currently, regulators award financial institutions Community Reinvestment Act credit for extending loans in low- to moderate-income census tracts even if the borrower is wealthy. CRA examiners should thoroughly consider gentrification issues in CRA exams going forward. Further research should explore whether the CRA may inadvertently incentivize banks to lend to upper-income borrowers purchasing in LMI neighborhoods, potentially accelerating displacement
  • Non-bank lenders play an ever-larger role. Statewide, five of the top 10 home purchase lenders were non-banks. These lenders are not subject to the CRA and may be under-capitalized. In addition, non-bank lenders have effectively marketed to low-income and immigrant communities, who may be more vulnerable to predatory lending.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Consumer Groups Ask Ninth Circuit to Block FCC Broadband Order Downgrading Rural America

Today, Public Knowledge, joined by The Greenlining Institute, The Utility Reform Network, and National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, filed a Petition for Review with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The petition asks the court to reverse and vacate the Federal Communications Commission’s November Order rolling back the agency’s consumer protections for Americans on legacy copper phone lines.

More than 76 million people — especially low-income and elderly individuals — still rely on copper lines for telecommunications services. Many rural communities have no cable provider and poor wireless coverage, making traditional copper the only option for broadband, or even basic voice services such as 911. Millions of Americans could lose access to vital communications services without the protections the FCC is moving to rescind in this new Order.

Last month’s Order reverses rules the FCC adopted in 2015 to protect individuals and communities still dependent on legacy copper lines as telephone companies retire them. The FCC eliminated the ability of communities to demand that phone companies maintain copper lines until those lines are replaced with an adequate and comparable service, rather than simply abandoning them (called “de facto retirement”). The FCC also eliminated the “functional test,” which required phone companies to support essential non-voice services, such as alarm systems, medical monitors, and small business services, during the transition to fiber. Finally, the FCC eliminated the 180-day notice requirement for individuals and business customers, making it much more difficult for those still relying on copper lines to minimize the cost and disruption of finding adequate replacement services.

Public Knowledge and The Greenlining Institute believe this rollback will harm rural communities that already struggle economically and will widen the digital divide. Additionally, the cost of the transition will fall most heavily on those who can least afford it and who are already on the wrong end of that divide: the elderly, the poor, and America’s growing rural communities of color. Petitioners ask the Ninth Circuit to reverse the November rollback of these protections as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to law.”

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“The protections the FCC previously adopted ensured that the retirement of legacy phone services would be an upgrade for everyone, not an upgrade for some and a downgrade for others. The FCC claims that removing these protection will encourage telephone companies to upgrade their networks more quickly. But it practically guarantees that these companies will continue to leave rural America behind.”

The following can be attributed to Vinhcent Le, Telecommunications Legal Counsel at The Greenlining Institute:

“The FCC’s continual rollback of consumer protections to benefit telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon is unprecedented. This order will harm millions in rural communities, and will especially harm the over 10 million people of color who live in rural communities and who already have fewer resources and face greater obstacles to economic opportunity than their neighbors.”

You may read the Petition for Review for more information.