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Can character loans fix the racial wealth divide?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
In This Issue: Joint Statement on Hurricane Relief Efforts ● Environmental Gentrification—Sustainable for Whom? In Spite of HUD, Fair Housing Helps Communities Can Character Loans Fix the Racial Wealth Divide?Also: Call to Action Events You Said It! ● In Case You Missed It ● Jobs ● More
Lillian M. Ortiz, Shelterforce
It wasn’t always about credit scores. Before the three-digit figure became the most-used way to determine a person’s creditworthiness, home and business loan approvals were based on a person’s perceived character. That was back when community banks—where bankers and loan officers knew neighborhood residents because they came from the communities they served—were much more prevalent. 

Those seeking loans didn’t have to worry about a credit score, a system that took off in the 1990s with the FICO scoring model. They didn’t have to worry about assets either. Instead, their reputation, or who their parents were, is what loan officers used to decide whether to give a loan application the green light—or not.

Under this system it was much easier for some folks without assets to get a loan and grow their wealth. But it also meant . . .
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In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, our thoughts are with the people of Houston and other communities along the Gulf who bore the brunt of the storm and are now faced with the daunting job of clean up and recovery. We extend our deepest condolences to those who lost family or friends, and to those whose homes, possessions, and livelihoods were destroyed.

It is time now for the region – with the support of the nation – to tackle the enormous job of helping the communities hit rebuild and recover. We are civil rights organizations who have seen the difficulties of recovery from previous storms, including Katrina, Ike and Sandy. It is imperative that all residents be given equal access to the resources they need to put their lives back together and prepare for the future.

Congress is now poised to . . .
Sarah Yeung, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Center
Last year, Philadelphia was one of the first cohorts to go through the AFFH process, a fair housing assessment mandated by HUD to discover impediments to opportunity in the city. Others have written excellent summaries of the rule, its challenges, and efforts by a Republican Congress to dismantle the rule as a viewed effort to force desegregation and take away local control on matters of land use and housing policy.

With conditions as they are in Washington, fair housing feels eons away, but I would argue that a process like AFFH is now crucial to local efforts for the conversation it creates around equity and its vision for a collaborative, cooperative process. 

Our process was uniquely hopeful in three respects:
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Large, adaptive-reuse, “sustainable development” projects are all the rage these days in urban planning circles. These are projects where large pieces of abandoned or underutilized infrastructure are repurposed as centerpieces of major urban redevelopment and couched in the rhetoric of sustainable development. They bring positive environmental amenities to an area, including added green space, increased walkability and bicycle-friendliness, and more local shopping and retail services.

Over the last twelve years, I have studied and monitored one such project, the Atlanta BeltLine, and drawn some lessons from the project, particularly for cities or regions where, overall, the housing market is strong. I have come to the conclusion that, absent a fundamentally new approach to redevelopment planning that places housing affordability at the center of the process, large-scale sustainable development projects are likely to become engines of what has been termed “environmental gentrification.”
Call to Action
CFPB Seeking Comments on Race and Gender Reporting by 9/14 The hard-won requirement in the Dodd-Frank Act (section 1071) that banks report their small business lending by race and gender is up for review. Please comment on or before Sept. 14.
Sept. 13, 2 p.m. EDTReimagined In America Webinar Series Hear how one group in New Orleans learned from a highly successful Brazilian program to prepare local youth for employment, develop life skills, and build closer community ties. Presented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Register and learn more about the series here.
Sept. 19, 2 p.m. EDT Tax Reform Webinar Series: Fighting for Equity in an Upside-Down Proposal Prosperity Now presents this webinar showing how to understand and engage with the upcoming tax reform debate that will harm the poor and middle class and benefit the rich.
You Said It!

Thanks to the staff at Shelterforce for this handy glossary of affordable housing terms. Can we place an order for a decoder ring version? —Housing Development Consortium, on Facebook

Best. Review. Ever. —Lou Tisler

Yes! This article so elegantly captures the challenges of working to preserve affordability and character in neighborhoods known for the arts. We’ve started an arts district in . . . —Michael Seiwerath, more
In Case You Missed It
Program Officer, Strong Local Economies
The Strong Local Economies program aims to create robust and sustainable economies that include a diversity of vibrant businesses and sectors and improved access to quality jobs for the Program’s priority populations. The Program Officer will work closely with the team on day-to-day operations, broader strategy development, and . . . Read Full Listing
Chief Operating Officer
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods seeks a Chief Operating Officer to lead the design, implementation, and operations across our diverse set of programs, including our lending affiliate, a certified CDFI. The Center strongly encourages Section 3 residents to participate in this hiring effort. Information to determine if you are . . . Read Full Listing
Vice President of Community & Economic Development
HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union) is seeking a mission-driven individual to lead its CED work in the Mississippi Delta. This person will join a talented team to execute large, multi-party investments in healthcare facilities, schools, affordable housing, fresh food . . . Read Full Listing
Executive Director
The ideal candidate for this position will be passionate about our mission of developing affordable housing and helping improve the livability of Great Falls neighborhoods. The ED will be responsible for the overall management, strategic direction, fundraising, accountability, and . . . Read Full Listing
Senior Housing Developer
The person in this role is engaged in activities which lead to the successful completion of affordable housing development contracts and projects, improve client capacity, and meet local community development objectives. The Senior Housing Developer plans, coordinates and manages . . . Read Full Listing
Housing Developer
The person in this role completes real estate development functions, including taking the lead on affordable housing and community facilities developments. The position requires experience in many aspects of housing development and the capacity for good time management . . . Read Full Listing
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Featured Bloggers
Bob Annibale, Citi ● Laura Barrett, Interfaith Worker Justice ● Murtaza Baxamusa, Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC ● Michael Bodaken, National Housing Trust ● Bill Bynum, HOPE Credit Union ● Steve DubbJamaal Green, Portland State University ● John Henneberger, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service ● David Holtzman, newspaper reporter and former planner ● Josh Ishimatsu, National CAPACD ● Rick Jacobus, Street Level Advisors ● Daniel Kravetz, freelance writer ● Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress ● Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity ● Doug Ryan, Prosperity Now ● Josh Silver, NCRC ● James Tracy, San Francisco Community Land Trust ● Eva Wingren, Baltimore Community Foundation