Equity Advocates and the Obama Administration Talk Solutions for Foreclosure Crisis
Yesterday, top officials from the White House hosted a forum in Washington, DC with over 150 homeowners, faith leaders, and equity advocates from across the nation to share ideas for protecting affordable housing, stopping the foreclosure crisis, and strengthening our communities.
This is a critical issue for equity. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, African American and Latino families in the U.S. are expected to lose almost $370 billion in assets due to home foreclosure between 2009 and 2012. This is on top of the nearly $200 billion these families lost between 2006 and 2009 due to home foreclosure.
What’s more, this issue is deeply personal. Take for example, the story of Brigitte Walker of Riverdale, Georgia. Brigitte Walker, an African American military veteran, shared her recent experience with economic hardship and housing insecurity. When she retired from the military due to medical challenges, her income suddenly dropped and the bank threatened to foreclose on her home.
For two years, she was locked in battle with the bank to keep her home. Walker reached out to housing advocates in her community and tapped into her own courage saying, “I fought for my country, I knew I could fight for my home.” After a long struggle, Walker was finally able to secure a new loan so that she can now afford to stay in her home.
There are millions of Brigitte Walker’s across this nation that are counting on policymakers to take swift action to making housing affordable and stabilize our neighborhoods. Thankfully, there is no shortage of smart, equitable solutions that local equity advocates have been advancing in their communities:
- In the Minneapolis and Cleveland areas, nonprofits have successfully used community land trusts to stabilize thousands of homes located in neighborhoods that have been devastated by widespread foreclosures.
- In California, the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights includes tools to prevent blight and keep home ownership affordable.
At the federal level, a bill in Congress and proposed investment by the Obama Administration hold promise for making homes affordable and revitalizing communities, while also creating much-needed construction jobs. To advance equity, each of these strategies must be targeted toward low-income people and communities of color, who have been hurt first and worst by the economic crisis. And our policymakers need to work together to deliver the investments that struggling families need.