Jump-Start a Stalled Economy

What's the Holdup? Strategies to Jump-Start a Stalled Economy

What's the Holdup? Strategies to Jump-Start a Stalled Economy
Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
2010 NCLR Annual Conference Town Hall
Monday, July 12, 2010, 3:00–4:30 p.m.
— Talking Points —

Let me start by saying that I’m pleased to have such a distinguished panel here today. Julie and Angela are two exceptional thinkers and advocates, and great friends to NCLR. And Mayor Castro has welcomed the NCLR familia—all 25,000 of us—with open arms.

Some of you may remember that Secretary Donovan joined us last year at the NCLR Conference in Chicago. He committed then to work with us to prevent needless foreclosures and keep families in their homes. He has followed through on so many fronts, and we are especially honored to have him back.

As Julie emphasized, millions of workers and families are still struggling with joblessness, underemployment, and foreclosure. In particular, Latinos and African Americans are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

For these Americans the facts and figures aren’t about the health of the macro economy. It’s much more personal than that. It’s about their families. Losing a job means you can’t feed your children. Foreclosure means you can’t provide your family shelter—putting the American Dream far out of reach. The consequences of home and job loss are profound, and the gains we’ve made over the last generation have suffered.

NCLR sees the recession through the eyes of the millions of families who are struggling to feed their families and who have lost or are in danger of losing their homes. NCLR has been the leading voice for Latino families facing job loss and foreclosure. We have urged our leaders to act boldly to reverse the impact of unemployment, home loss, and neighborhood decline. Many of you have supported our efforts by making phone calls and sending emails. In many respects, our efforts have paid off. I’d like to take a moment to share with you three key wins from the past year.

  • First, the HIRE Act was signed into law in March. This new law includes tax incentives for nonprofits that hire unemployed workers
  • Second, the House passed sweeping reform that will rein in Wall Street excess. On your chairs you have more information on the major victories for our community in this bill. Highlights include
    • the creation of a new agency to protect consumers,
    • a renewed emphasis on local hiring in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program,
    • and the expansion of a community-based financial planning program.
  • The third win is one I would like to thank Secretary Donovan for. NCLR has been particularly concerned about families who lose their home even though they are working on a loan modification. This was an issue that Secretary Donovan committed to working on last year. And as a result, changes were made to the HAMP program prohibiting this practice. Now servicers cannot start a foreclosure until the modification screening process is complete.

Even while we celebrate our victories, we’re painfully aware that our job is not done. For example, there are some in Congress who have blocked a meaningful job-creation bill. We do not have time to lose on this issue. We need to add 400,000 jobs each MONTH for the next THREE years—just to get back to a 5% unemployment rate, where we were in 2006.
Unfortunately, Congress has missed opportunities to leverage new bills to create jobs. For example, while the stimulus package provided some critical relief, it did not effectively direct jobs or resources into the hardest-hit communities. As a result, we still see unacceptable disparities in unemployment rates.

Congress and the administration must renew their efforts to prevent foreclosures. New research estimates that 17% of Latino homeowners are in foreclosure or have already lost their home. This is an unprecedented loss in wealth and stability that demands a more robust response.

Truthfully, the deck is stacked against us. It’s an election year, budgets are tight, and political will is low. However, our leaders must realize that much is at stake. Latino families are a driving force in population and economic growth. It would be detrimental for the fiscal health of our nation to leave communities of color behind in recovery efforts.

So what can we do to move the ball forward?

The first thing our audience can do is to call your senators TODAY. There is information on your chair. Ask them to vote YES on the banking reform bill.

Second, you can join NCLR in Washington, DC for a march on October 2nd. Together we can convince lawmakers that Americans are for creating good jobs, for protecting investors, and for homeownership.

Lastly, a request for Secretary Donovan: Secretary, can you commit today to implementing and enforcing local hiring requirements related to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program? Doing so would be a true win-win for our community.

Clearly Latino families still have a long road ahead of them while the economy recovers. But we should also take a moment to celebrate the milestones. We are pleased to be able to work closely with allies such as Secretary Donovan, Angela, and Mayor Castro toward an inclusive recovery.

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