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What’s in store for housers next week

Next week, housers from around the country will come to Washington, D.C. for the 47th Annual Housing Visionary Awards Gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. Leaders throughout the affordable housing industry, from bankers and investors, to civil rights advocates and housing developers, will celebrate the achievements of some of the most impactful men and women in America. We will also be joined by a broad range of policymakers including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria and FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery, as well as House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (by video). (more…)

CRA can encourage more strategic coordination within communities as well as financial institutions

In this last of three notes on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), we look more closely at the fourth of NHC’s principles for successful CRA modernization. NHC believes that any new CRA regulatory regimen must:
  1. Increase investment in communities that are currently underserved;
  2. Benefit more low- and moderate-income (LMI) people, particularly people of color, who live in those communities;
  3. Ensure that CRA lending and investment does not lead to displacement of the very people it is meant to help; and
  4. Make both bank performance and government enforcement more transparent and predictable.

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There is potential for CRA modernization to do much more in undeserved communities

Last week, I wrote about the important progress being made on modernization of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and NHC’s four principles that any new rule must meet. We believe that any new CRA regulatory regimen must:
  1. Increase investment in communities that are currently underserved;
  2. Benefit more low- and moderate-income (LMI) people, particularly people of color, who live in those communities;
  3. Ensure that CRA lending and investment does not lead to displacement of the very people it is meant to help; and
  4. Make both bank performance and government enforcement more transparent and predictable.

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CRA is one of the most important tools to increase lending and investment in underserved communities

The three primary regulators of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) met in Washington this month to formally begin a process of preparing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR). This meeting follows an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on August 28, 2018. The OCC ANPR was not joined by the other two agencies, the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) because of Comptroller Joseph Otting’s insistence that it be heavily weighted in the direction of a “one ratio” approach, where banks might be able to meet their CRA obligations by achieving a simple ratio of their total qualified lending divided by their total assets or deposits, or variations on that theme. NHC contributed commentsto the ANPR that strongly opposed the one ratio approach, as did the vast majority of the 1,584 commentators including many NHC members such as NCRCLISCEnterprise Community PartnersNAAHL and JPMorgan Chase, among many others.

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Working together on increasing the black homeownership rate

This year at our Solutions for Housing Communications we held an expert panel entitled, “Communicating on the black homeownership decline and income disparities.” This informative panel included, Lisa Rice of the National Fair Housing Alliance, Hilary O. Shelton of the NAACP Washington Bureau, Cat Goughnour of Prosperity Now and Antoine Thompson of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. The next day, NHC assembled a group of members to have a first of many strategy sessions on how we work together to increase black homeownership, the one demographic group left behind in the post-recession housing recovery. While there are many barriers that hinder the increase of black homeowners, our Paycheck to Paycheck database shows that affordability is a double edge sword for first time homebuyers. In high cost areas, homes are too expensive; in low cost areas, smaller home loans are not available. When combined with the advent of algorithmic redlining and the experience of equity stripping in the black community, it is clear that these real and complex issues must be addressed as a community, a country and a coalition. (more…)

What to expect at this year’s Solutions for Housing Communications

Next week, NHC will release its “Paycheck to Paycheck” database at our Solutions for Housing Communications convening at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16. If you or someone on your staff haven’t registered for the Solutions convening yet, I encourage you to do so. Solutions for Housing Communications is the only national convening designed for housing communicators. Breakout sessions will address communications tools and trends housing communicators rely on for their day-to-day work. A networking reception will be held at The Hamilton restaurant between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. 

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What affordable housing means to me

Many industry staff can benefit from a brainstorming session answering and discussing what affordable housing means personally. That’s precisely what happened when we had an ad-hoc staff meeting. “What does affordable housing mean to you?” is what we contemplated and answered. It was a great brainstorming exercise to sit back and reflect on how we personally view affordable housing. Throughout my career, I have focused so much on what affordable housing means to others, until then, I had not sat back to reflect on what it means to me. I previously worked for a Maryland nonprofit, the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH), where I helped coordinate a project to photograph MCCH housing residents holding a sketch of a home with one word written inside to describe what it meant to have an affordable place to call home. Some of them wrote joy, happiness, safetyhope and stability. This memory is still vivid and inspiring as I think back.

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The history of redlining

April is Fair Housing Month, so there is no better time to discuss the pernicious practice of redlining, which segregated neighborhoods by their racial composition. Maps were literally colored blue to represent 100 percent white residency and red to indicate “hazardous” levels of risk due to the presence of black residents. The history of redlining is best demonstrated in a map prepared by the United States Home Owner Loan Corporation (HOLC), one of the Roosevelt administration’s most successful programs designed to refinance Americans into sustainable mortgages. Millions of white Americans took advantage of the program and most saved their homes from foreclosure as a result. Black Americans who needed the program lost their homes, along with those white homeowners who lived in integrated neighborhoods. (more…)

The legacy of Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch

This month is Women’s History Month, and there are few housing organizations with as rich a history of leadership by historic women than the National Housing Conference. In 1930, the City Affairs Committee (CAC) of New York, a nonpartisan group founded to work for a better city through research and education created a housing committee, led by a prominent leader of the Settlement House movement, Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch. At that time, half of New York City’s population lived in slums, many without electricity or indoor plumbing. But Mrs. Simkhovitch and her close friend and fellow social worker and CAC officer, Helen Alfred, recognized that the Great Depression was devastating the city and the country faster than they could respond alone. Together with Edith Elmer Wood, they realized that social advocacy could be much more impactful if they aligned with investors, homebuilders and labor unions. (more…)

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