Connect with us

Op-Ed

Black Families Must Focus on Asset Building

Published

on

Charlene-Crowell14
By Charlene Crowell
NNPA Columnist

 

As the wealthy few continue to prosper, the rest of the nation is caught in a financial tug-of-war between stagnant wages and a rising cost of living. In communities of color, chronic unemployment and underemployment and a host of other social ills are added burdens to an already challenging economy.

These and other disturbing trends were the focus of the recent Color of Wealth Summit, conceived and convened by a national research organization, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and a solution-oriented social change nonprofit, the Center for Global Policy Solutions. The two-day conference engaged prominent thought leaders to propose solutions to the growing racial income and wealth divide that has come to characterize America’s economy.

According to Maya Rockeymoore, its president and CEO, “Most organizations and policy makers focus on improving income and income supports such as safety net programs. While this approach is vital, it is not enough to build economic security for vulnerable families over a lifetime. To achieve true security for vulnerable families, asset building must be part of the strategy. Through wealth, families can have the financial resilience they need to sustain themselves in the event of a job loss or illness. Wealth also gives families the resources to invest in their future and realize their dreams. A truly transformational economic security strategy should focus on both income and wealth.”

Recent research confirms how hard it is for families that lack adequate earnings, to make it from one payday to the next. While the idea of saving is valued, for too many consumers nothing is left once basic living expenses are met.

According to the most recent report of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress:

• Median net worth in Black households fell by more than 40 percent from 2007 to 2013. White households during this same period saw median net worth drop 26 percent;
• Median weekly earnings of Black college graduates working full-time and their White counterparts showed that the Black grads’ annual earnings were $12,000 less; and
• Overall, the Black median earnings of $34,600, is nearly $24,000 less than the same measure for Whites.

“The same groups of people who have historically been left behind are growing in number and population,” observed Angela Glover Blackwell, a summit participant and founder and CEO of PolicyLink. “It is critical that we support asset-building programs and policies that create and protect opportunities for all families to save and invest in themselves, their futures, and their communities.”

Historically, homeownership has been the gateway to building wealth and assets. Unfortunately, the nation’s foreclosure crisis altered wealth-building for millions. According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, nearly 14.8 million foreclosure notices were filed from
January 1, 2007 to May 31, 2013.

By late 2014, according to the Census Bureau, only 42 percent of Black families were homeowners – more than 22 percentage points lower than that of the nation (64 percent) and 30 percentage points lower than that of Whites (72 percent). The current homeownership level is the lowest since 1993.

For Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.), a summit keynoter, the discussions provided a timely connection between his work in the House Financial Services Committee and the conference’s agenda.

“[T]he collapse in home values during the Great Recession hit Black households especially hard. At a time like this, we need more affordable housing and a stronger safety net,” said Cleaver. “Both in the House Financial Services Committee and in the Congress as a whole, we have more work to do to increase opportunities for families around the country.”

According to Cleaver, FHA’s lowering of mortgage insurance premiums earlier this year, is one example of a government initiative that will bring consumers “closer to the keys of their own home.” An estimated 90,000-140,000 buyers will be assisted this year.

While most Black and Latino homebuyers have had their mortgages underwritten by government-backed programs such as FHA, VA and USDA, the greater challenge has been access to private sector conventional mortgages that over the life of a loan are far cheaper than the government-backed offerings.

The annual Home Mortgage Disclosure Act report (HMDA), quantifies by race and ethnicity mortgage lending and denials for mortgage loans. For 2013, the most up-to-date report, the data clearly reveals that while conventional mortgage originations rose slightly from 2012 to 2013, nationwide Black consumers, who are more than 13 percent of the population, received only 2.3 percent or 36,903 loans. In 2012, the same data point was even smaller, with only 26,500 such loans.

Earlier research by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a summit co-sponsor, revealed that many homebuyers of color were steered into higher-cost, subprime loans – even when they qualified for cheaper ones. After analyzing 50,000 subprime loans, CRL concluded that Blacks and Latinos were almost a third more likely to receive a high-priced loan than were Whites with the same credit scores.

Additionally, research by the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina found that borrowers of color and low-wealth families who received safe mortgages that were fully-underwritten during the housing crisis saw their home equity appreciate by $23,000.

“Proving that when families receive responsible mortgage loans, they are able to build a financial safety net that they can access during challenging times,” said Nikitra Bailey, a CRL executive vice-president.

“There are a number of wealth gaps that are troubling,” said john a. powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California at Berkeley, “One is the gap between the very rich and everyone else. Another is the gap between people of color and their White counterparts. What is not appreciated and needs to be explored is the relationship between these gaps.”

The policy answer to that keen insight will determine whether this and future generations will be able to reasonably accomplish what our parents and forefathers did – a better quality of life.

“America will be a people-of-color nation by 2042, and addressing the racial wealth gap is necessary to ensure sustained economic growth for all Americans,” stated Blackwell.

Ever-widening wealth gaps are not a Black, or White, or Latino problem. Nor can the dilemma become more fodder for partisan bickering. It is an American problem that deserves a response equal to its challenge.

Concluded powell, “Our lives, our economy and our democracy are at risk.”

 

Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

###

Bay Area

Where Do Negotiations Go Now After A’s “Howard Terminal” or Bust Ultimatum?

The A’s are seeking to develop 55 acres at the Port of Oakland. The proposal includes a 35,000-seat baseball stadium, which would cost $1 billion, or 8.3% of the total project.

Published

on

Oakland A's Photo Courtesy of Rick Rodriquez via Unsplash

FILE – In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Oakland Athletics President David Kaval gestures during a news conference in Oakland, Calif. TheAthletics will be phased out of revenue sharing in the coming years as part of baseball’s new labor deal, and that puts even more urgency on the small-budget franchise’s plan to find the right spot soon to build a new, privately funded ballpark. Kaval, named to his new A’s leadership position last month, is committed to making quick progress but also doing this right. That means strong communication with city and civic leaders as well as the community and fan base. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

John Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Fortunato

Rebecca Kaplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland’s City Council rejected the A’s proposed non-binding term sheet, which the team had presented to the City along with an ultimatum, “Howard Terminal or Bust.”

At a packed City Council meeting last week, attended by 1,000 people on Zoom, many residents were angry at what they viewed as the A’s real estate “land grab” at the Port of Oakland and either said that the team should leave or stay at the Oakland Coliseum in East Oakland.
Rejecting the A’s term sheet, councilmembers at the July 20th meeting voted 6-1 with one abstention to make a counteroffer, approving city staff’s and Council’s amendments to the A’s term sheet.

Council’s vote was to continue negotiating with the A’s, and the A’s gained substantial concessions, $352 million, enough to return for further negotiations, in Oakland. The Council’s vote didn’t derail A’s pursuit of Las Vegas.

Now, over a week since Council’s vote, neither A’s President Dave Kaval nor owner John Fisher have spoken publically on the A’s intent to continue bargaining with Oakland for their proposed $12 billion waterfront development at Howard Terminal.

The A’s are seeking to develop 55 acres at the Port of Oakland. The proposal includes a 35,000-seat baseball stadium, which would cost $1 billion, or 8.3% of the total project.

In addition to the stadium, the development features 3,000 condominium/housing units; over a million square feet of commercial space (office and retail); a 3,500-seat performance theater, 400 hotel rooms and approximately 18 acres of parks and open space.

The most fundamental sticking point, along with all the other complications, is whether a commercial/residential development, ‘a city within a city,” in the middle of a working seaport are compatible uses for the land. Many experts are saying that the existence of upscale residences and thousands of tourists strolling around will eventually destroy the Port of Oakland, which is the economic engine of the city and the region.

According to Kaval, who had pushed for the Council to approve the ultimatum, “We’re disappointed that the city did not vote on our proposal … we’re going to take some time and really dig in and understand and ‘vet’ what they did pass and what all the amendments mean.”

Although the A’s stated a willingness to be open to the amended terms Council approved, Kaval expressed uncertainty whether the Council’s amended term sheet offers “a path forward.”

“The current [amended] term sheet as its constructed is not a business partnership that works for us,” said Kaval, saying the team would have to examine the Council’s counter-offer before deciding to resume negotiations or return to Las Vegas or focus on finding a new home someplace else.

City Council President Bas and Mayor Libby Schaaf joined city and labor leaders to discuss the Council’s vote. Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan made it clear that the amended term sheet the Council approved should be considered a “road map for future negotiations … a baseline for further discussions.”

Upon Kaval’s dismissal of the Council’s stated positions, Fife said, “I don’t know where we go from here,” abstaining from the vote on the proposed term sheet.

Many find Kaval’s statement confusing because he used words like partnership but apparently ignored and/or disregarded the City of Oakland – the A’s major stakeholder and a business partnership since 1968, more than 53 years.

Some are asking if the A’s understand that Oakland’s 53-year relationship with the team is the basis for the meme “Rooted in Oakland?” Are the A’s willing to accept, as the Council has determined, that the terms of the business “partnership” must be equitable and mutually beneficial for all of “us”?

And the question remains after a 53-year relationship, is it reasonable to terminate that relationship or negotiate further for an equitable and mutually beneficial business partnership?

Continue Reading

Commentary

Whitewashing History and Suppressing Voters Go Hand in Hand 

There’s been a lot of news about the Democratic legislators in Texas who fled the state to prevent Republicans from pushing through sweeping new voter suppression laws. Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to have them arrested to force them to attend a special session of the state Legislature.

Published

on

Element5 Digital on Unsplash

There’s been a lot of news about the Democratic legislators in Texas who fled the state to prevent Republicans from pushing through sweeping new voter suppression laws. Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to have them arrested to force them to attend a special session of the state Legislature.

Now it turns out that voter suppression is not the only “special” project Abbott has in mind. He and his fellow Republicans are pushing a far-reaching “memory law” that would limit teaching about racism and civil rights.

Abbott already signed a bill last month restricting how racism can be taught in Texas schools. But he and other Republicans in the state don’t think it went far enough. The Republican-dominated state-Senate has voted to strip a requirement that white supremacy be taught as morally wrong. Also on the chopping block: requirements that students learn about civil rights activists Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

It’s not just Texas. Just as Republicans are pushing a wave of voter registration laws around the country, they are also pushing laws to restrict teaching about racism in our history, culture, and institutions. CNN’s Julian Zelizer recently noted that such laws downplay injustices in our history and lead to teaching “propaganda rather than history.”

Here’s a good example:  Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the new legislation is meant to keep students from being “indoctrinated” by the “ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.” If Patrick really believes it is a “ridiculous” idea that racism was embedded in our Constitution from the start, he has already put on his own ideological blinders. And he wants to force them onto teachers and students.

Some of these state memory laws specifically ban teaching that causes “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex.” As educators have noted, that’s a recipe for erasing and whitewashing history.

“Teachers in high schools cannot exclude the possibility that the history of slavery, lynchings and voter suppression will make some non-Black students uncomfortable,” history professor Timothy Snyder wrote in the New York Times Magazine. Those laws give power to white students and parents to censor honest teaching of history. “It is not exactly unusual for white people in America to express the view that they are being treated unfairly; now such an opinion could bring history classes to a halt.”

Snyder also explained how new state “memory laws” are connected to voter suppression. “In most cases, the new American memory laws have been passed by state legislatures that, in the same session, have passed laws designed to make voting more difficult,” he wrote. “The memory management enables the voter suppression.”

“The history of denying Black people the vote is shameful,” he explained. “This means that it is less likely to be taught where teachers are mandated to protect young people from feeling shame. The history of denying Black people the vote involves law and society. This means that it is less likely to be taught where teachers are mandated to tell students that racism is only personal prejudice.”

As I wrote in The Nation, far-right attempts to suppress honest teaching about racism is meant to “convince a segment of white voters that they should fear and fight our emerging multiracial and multiethnic democratic society” and to “help far-right politicians take and hold power, no matter the cost to our democracy.”

That’s also what voter suppression bills are designed to do. We cannot tolerate either of these assaults on democracy.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

GETTING TO YES 

BAYSIDE BALL PARK OR WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT

Published

on

Howard Terminal Courtesy Port of Oakland website

Arguably, development of Howard’s Terminal has been in the making for long time.  According to Councilmember Gallo, Oakland’s previous city officials Robert Bobb and Jerry Brown entertained development of Howard’s Terminal, for the Fishers and A’s, during their tenure as city manager and mayor respectively. 

Let’s be clear, the A’s initially pitched its development project at Howard’s Terminal as a Bayside Baseball Stadium, when in essence its project goal has always been a major condominium-housing and business development, along Oakland’s waterfront … the stadium was then and is now just the shinny thing.  Many argue the Coliseum site is more suited for a new stadium development, if that’s really what the A’s want. 

On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, Oakland City Council held a special meeting to consider the Oakland A’s proposal submitted in April 2021; the A’s pressed Council for this special meeting so as to give the A’s an up or down vote on their proposal.  Council voted 6-1, with one abstention, not to support the A’s proposal as submitted.  Council did agree, however, to support the A’s project proposal with certain City amendments.   

Oakland City Council considered their vote to be a big win for Oakland.  On the other hand, A’s President, Dave Kaval, called the City Council’s vote “a swing and a miss.” Based upon the complexity of the pending issues, it appears more time – extended ending – will be necessary for both sides to get to a mutually beneficial yes. 

According to the A’s Kaval, progress has been made in negotiations but, the plan Council voted for on Tuesday “is not a business partnership that works for [A’s] us.”   Moreover, Kaval claims the A’s had not seen some of the amendments Oakland city staff presented to the City Council Tuesday morning before the council’s vote. 

Council-member Rebecca Kaplan said the City Council’s amendments addressed the A’s biggest concern, having to pay for offsite transportation, and infrastructure improvements. However, the A’s still could not agree with the city’s overall offer.   

 Also, the A’s waterfront development project proposal includes some 3000 units of condominium-housing, but the A’s proposal ignored adequate provisions for affordable housing.  The A’s wants the City to waive the A’s legal requirement to provide for affordable housing.  Oakland’s City Council determined that fact to a major sticking point. 

Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, who worked on the amendments with Vice Mayor Kaplan, said, “It’s (now) at the beginning of the eighth inning.”  As a matter of fact, Council advised the A’s to use Council’s just approved amended Term-Sheet as a road map for further negotiations. 

Following the City Council meeting, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the City and A’s are very close to an agreement, but Kaval said “in some ways it’s too early to say how close the two sides are.”  

Kaval expressed hope that the A’s can get the City Council vote on some terms his team could agree on before Council’s summer recess.  Council President Bas’, office said no council meetings are scheduled before the recess to further negotiate the A’s new waterfront proposal.  

 Negotiation between Oakland’s City Council and the Oakland A’s appears to be headed for extra innings.  The complexity of the issues and public reactions, after Tuesday’s Council vote, gives many citizens cause to pause and wonder if we are at the end of the seventh inning stretch or the bottom of the ninth; either way, getting to a mutually beneficial yes will require a walk-off hit. 

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending