At Our Doorstep: True Housing Recovery When We Work Together
August 06 2010
By: Eric Rodriguez
In early July, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), held its Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, where a record crowd of 42,000 people gathered, including families, Latino leaders, community advocates, business owners, and many others. Among this year’s highlights was our town hall, “What’s the Holdup? Strategies to Jump-Start a Stalled Economy,” where I was joined by notable guests, including U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan.
We looked for solutions to today’s tough times and zeroed in on the reality of homeownership and jobs in our neighborhoods. The picture is bleak for some. Many families have lost their jobs and many others, often as a consequence, are losing the shelter of their homes. Even while we continue to celebrate the recent passage of the banking reform bill, we are reminded that foreclosures and unemployment run rampant throughout the nation, especially in the Latino community, where a whopping 17% loss of homeownership is expected by the time the recession is over.
Secretary Donovan has reached out to the Latino community to hear our concerns and suggestions. He spoke at our Annual Conference last year in Chicago as well, where he committed to teaming up with NCLR to mitigate foreclosures and help families keep their homes. He has stayed true to his promise by making necessary improvements to HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program). For example, now servicers cannot begin the foreclosure process until the homeowner has been screened for a loan modification, giving people a better shot at staying in their homes.
At Conference this year, Secretary Donovan announced the FHA First Look program launch. This will give redeveloping communities hurt by high numbers of foreclosures first claim on purchasing FHA-insured foreclosed homes, a fantastic alternative to investors swooping into neighborhoods with the goal of buying cheap and selling high when the market recoups. NCLR is glad to be a partner in this rollout. FHA First Look empowers communities to invest in their own backyard.
Secretary Donovan also made a plea for HUD’s Transforming Rental Assistance initiative, which would create 300,000 jobs in our poorest communities to make much needed capital improvements and repairs to public housing. The Secretary said it was time to put an end to the “separate but inherently unequal” housing system in this country that traps 2.5 million families in poor neighborhoods for generations.
Like other Americans, our community seeks real, tangible change. We look forward to progress in getting us out of the housing crisis as leaders such as Secretary Donovan have the courage to be innovative with solutions that are showing results. After a robust conversation at the town hall, I asked him to help us implement and enforce the local hiring requirements for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a commonsense strategy that could increase local jobs while helping communities recover. We hope to hear from the Secretary next year on the progress of this initiative.
Issues: Banking Reform, Financial Services