May 24, 2018 

LAWT News Service 

 

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released a statement following the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas:

 

“I am heartbroken to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Santa Fe High School, where at least 10 innocent lives were lost and many others were injured. I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims, their families, and the entire Santa Fe High School community whose lives have forever been changed by this senseless act of violence.

 

“This tragic episode is the latest in a string of mass shootings in our country. In fact, it has been reported that the Santa Fe High School shooting is the 22nd instance of a shooting on the grounds of a school in 2018. This is not only deeply disturbing, it’s a national disgrace.

 

“Members of Congress have a responsibility to resist the pressures of the special interest gun lobby and pass the reforms that are so desperately needed to curtail gun violence and mass shootings in our country. To sit idly by and do nothing is a shameful dereliction of duty. Our children, our communities, and our nation all demand and deserve better.”

Category: Opinion

May 17, 2018 

By Charlene Crowell 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

 

In the classic movie film, “Gone with the Wind,” the owner of the Tara plantation admonished his daughter for remarking that she didn’t care about her home. In a sharp rebuke, Gerald O-Hara declared that “land was the only thing worth living for, worth fighting for…worth dying for.”

 

For the fictional O’Hara family, Tara was their home, and the source of the family’s wealth. Fast forward to the 21st century, having a home remains a rock-solid route to building wealth that grows and becomes a key opportunity to share that same wealth inter-generationally.

 

Unless you are among those who have been denied your own American Dream.

 

New research by the Center for Responsible Lending finds that today’s racial wealth gaps were supported and sustained by the federal government’s Fair Housing Administration (FHA). From the program’s inception during the 1930s, FHA perpetuated racial discrimination by making mortgage credit broadly available to White borrowers and at the same time, excluding Blacks and other people of color.

 

More importantly, FHA has an important role to play in leveling today’s mortgage finance field and its two-tiered system.

 

“These homeownership rate disparities did not occur by chance,” argued Peter Smith and Melissa Stegman, authors of “Repairing a two-tiered system: The critical but complex role of FHA.” “The homeownership rate gap between Whites and people of color is in large part due to historic federal housing policy choices that created decades-long impacts.”

 

CRL, however, credits FHA mortgage lending as an important aid to the nation’s economic recovery following the Great Recession. As much of private mortgage lending retreated during the housing crisis, FHA increased its purchase market share to 42 percent in 2009. Prior to that economic crisis, FHA’s market share was only 8.8 percent of the market.

 

FHA also sustained the mortgage market and provided broad liquidity for wealthier borrowers in addition to low-to-moderate income families. FHA’s refinancing of toxic subprime loans saved many family homes from foreclosure and became a sustainable alternative.

 

Today, with much of the mortgage market recovered, unnecessarily tight and expensive credit in the conventional mortgage market often makes FHA the only option to finance homeownership for low- to moderate-income borrowers, lower-wealth borrowers, and borrowers of color. This single-option also means that borrowers broadly denied the lower-cost, most-affordable private loans available, have a slower rate of home appreciation due to fees and insurance that accompany government-backed loans. 

 

CRL’s analysis of mortgage data from 2004 to 2016 found that:

 

• The FHA market share for Black and Latino borrowers now approaches half of all purchase mortgage lending to these borrowers;

 

• FHA is the major source of mortgage credit for higher-income Black and Latino borrows as compared to conventional lending;

 

• Tight and expensive credit in the conventional market has led to FHA becoming the only mortgage option for many borrowers of color, low-to-moderate income families, and lower-wealth families.

 

• Of the top 10 FHA home purchase lenders in 2004, five were banks and five were non-depositories; by 2016, eight of the top 10 FHA lenders were non-depositories.

 

It is important to note that the withdrawal of banks leaving the FHA insured program, comes at a time of record profits, made possible in large by taxpayer dollars that provided a financial bailout of failing financial institutions, during the housing collapse.

 

These lenders exit the program at a time when it is inadequately funded and lacks up-to-date technology that could enhance its administrative functions. Further, the exit of large banks additionally became a gateway for non-depository institutions to fill the market’s gap. Non-banks, subject to fair lending protections, are not however included in the Community Reinvestment Act. Many of the financial abuses that led to the housing crisis began with unregulated and non-bank lenders.

 

 

 

Many lenders will argue that the retreat from FHA was caused by actions taken by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice under the False Claims Act. This federal law allows the government to hold companies accountable for making “false claims” to the government about their products or services. Beyond being assessed damages for infractions, enforcement of the law can additionally include a company or representative being banned from future federal funds or contracts.

 

State attorneys general would counter this lender claim by pointing to the $25 billion national mortgage settlement reached with five of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers as evidence that lenders engaged in egregious conduct in clear violation of the law.

 

The significance of major banks withdrawing from the mortgage market is further underscored by other findings shared in a related report by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA):

 

• Since 1988, close to $1 billion in victim compensation has resulted from lawsuits alleging redlining and discrimination by mortgage lenders;

 

• Housing discrimination complaints grew from 2016 to 2017’s 28,843 cases;

 

• Of 2017’s discriminatory housing complaints, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) processed less than five percent, or 1,311; and

 

• Among the 6,896 complaints processed by state and local Fair Housing Assistance Program Agencies, the Department of Justice brought only 41 cases.   

 

“As the 2018 Trends Report shows, we must put an end to the many institutionalized barriers that prevent too many families in this country from fair access to housing,” said Lisa Rice, the NFHA President and CEO. “We cannot build a thriving society as long as our nation is plagued by discrimination, segregation, and severe economic inequality.”

 

CRL President Mike Calhoun said that in the year that marks a half century of the Fair Housing Act it is appropriate to acknowledge the journey traveled in five decades.

 

It’s also the time to, “look ahead to the hundreds of miles yet to travel, before fair housing is a reality for all,” Calhoun said.

 

Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s Deputy Communications Director. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@ responsiblelending.org.

Category: Opinion

May 17, 2018 

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. 

President and CEO, NNPA 

 

There is an old African proverb that says, “What you seek, you will surely find.”  We live in a world where the news cycle continues to decrease, because of innovations in communications technology.  Yes, we are living in the fast-paced digital age. The high-velocity delivery and transmission of news and information, however, may or may not produce authentic or accurate facts or simply the truth.

 

Yet, for more than 47 million Black Americans the reality of life’s multiple challenges and opportunities are not the primary concerns and focus of what is popularly known as “mainstream media.” Thus, the value and mission of the Black Press of America today is more strategically important than ever before, for Black Americans and others who embrace the trend-setting cultural, academic, technological and game-changing achievements that are accomplished daily in Black America.

 

This is why the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is pleased with the continued partnership between the General Motor’s Chevrolet Division and the NNPA to sponsor the 2018 Discover the Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Scholarship and Fellowship Program.  We are identifying and mentoring the next generation of young, gifted, talented and committed journalists and publishers who will rise to take their rightful place as our future community leaders and business owners.

 

Seeking out the best of Black America, not only in the field of journalism, but also in the overall context of the long-protracted struggle for freedom, justice, equality and empowerment is of the utmost importance.  This summer in Georgia, Virginia, New York and in Washington, D.C., six NNPA journalism scholars selected from Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) located across the nation will have the opportunity to work in Black-owned newspapers. 

 

These outstanding NNPA DTU Fellows will also journey together to highlight and file news reports about real life stories that are occurring in our communities. In the current national media climate where allegations of “fake news” are routinely propagated, we will welcome receipt of the news and inspirations from the writings, videos and social media postings of our young, aspiring journalists.

 

We are also grateful to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) for assisting Chevrolet and the NNPA to notify and reach HBCU students attending 120 HBCUs across the nation about the DTU fellowship opportunities.  In fact, over 23,000 online responses were made by students who were interested in the DTU program. 

 

Reviewing and evaluating the numerous applications that were submitted revealed the tremendous academic achievements and commitments of HBCU students, who fervently desire to serve the empowerment interests of Black communities via their respective journalism skills and talents. This, in itself, is a good news story.

 

Too often we only learn or hear about the tragic injustices and systematic racial discriminations that are in fact facets of the realities that are all too prevalent in Black America. We need, however, more balance and truth-telling in the media when it comes to the struggles and plight as well as the resilience and transformation of Black America.

 

For more than 191 years, since the first publication of “Freedom Journal” in March 1827, the Black Press of America has continued to be on the frontlines reporting our triumphs, defeats and our successful resistance to oppression, injustice and inequality.  Each generation has a responsibility to help prepare the next generation to take the baton of history and to run to win by breaking and setting new records of achievement and excellence of all fields of endeavor.

 

Again, we publicly thank General Motors – Chevrolet for enabling the NNPA to award this group of young, freedom-fighting scholars to sharpen their pens and commitments to become champions of the freedom and responsibilities of the press.  The Black community will benefit.  All of America will benefit. The DTU Fellows will seek and they will find. They will also exemplify the good news.

 

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can follow Dr. Chavis on Twitter @drbenchavis.

Category: Opinion

May 17, 2018 

By Julianne Malveaux 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

 

While Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the all children,provide a safety net, access to dental care is a big issue, especially for children of color.  According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, “tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States, five times as prevalent as asthma, and dental care is one of the nation’s greatest unmet children’s health needs,” Why?  Sometimes children’s parents simply did not arrange for them to see a dentist.  Sometimes, dental services were not available in particular areas, for example, dental needs are sometimes more likely to be addressed in emergency rooms than dental clinics.  And, a 2016 report from the Department of Health and Human Services said that dental provider shortages were at least part of the reason some children, especially low-income Black and Hispanic children, lack dental care.

 

Children pay a big price when their dental needs are unmet. In the worst and most extreme cases, as in that of Maryland’s Deamonte Driver, children can die, because they do not have access to basic dental services.

 

“Childhood dental decay can lead to pain, difficulty eating, speaking and sleeping, and more serious infections, some of which can be life- threatening,” said Dr. Diane Earle, the managing dental director for Kool Smiles.

 

To address some of the need, Kool Smiles, a division of the Benevis Corporation, is offering free dental care to children in need on Sunday, May 20. Forty-nineForty-nineFifty offices in 13 states plus Washington, D.C. will be open to provide dental exams, extractions, fillings, sealants, and other emergency services. The free day is open to children who either lack insurance or are underinsured.

 

To be sure, Kool Smiles won’tcan’t possibly provide a smile for every child, but they are taking a step in the right direction. This year represents the fourth year that the organization has offered the free service.  It’s first-come, first-serve; so if you are interested, check out mykoolsmiles.com/sharing smiles, where you can register for a free appointment.  In the past three years more than 1,400 children have received free dental health care, with more than 500 being treated last year. Kool Smiles hopes to serve even more children this year.

 

Access to safe and affordable health care has been part of my portfolio for some years. In 2015, I had the privilege of spending a week at Meharry Medical College, lecturing on health policy.  The challenges that people of color face around health care can be distilled to the 3 A’s: Access, Assets, and Attitudes. All too often access is limited, because people live in the wrong areas, because providers are unavailable, or because there are other reasons people can’t physically get to the care they need.  Assets determine almost everything—if you don’t have the dollars, no matter what the proximity, you won’tt’ likely have the care you need. Finally, the attitudes of both providers and patients make a difference in who seeks care and in what kind of care is provided.  Recent work on maternal mortality among African American women, regardless of race, suggests that racial attitudes in treatment make a difference.  Consider the case of our superstar, Serena Williams, who almost died giving birth to her precious Alexis Olympia, partly, because of some preconceived notions about Black folks on the part of misguided medical professionals.

 

Mental health and dental health are the two parts of healthcare that are most frequently ignored. It is not enough to simply get an annual checkup. Increasing research shows that mental health and physical health are inextricably intertwined.  Dental health, all too frequently, is ignored. Even those with “good” health insurance may have limited dental insurance. And lower-income folks rely on Medicaid and CHIP, but may not have anywhere to go to get the help they need.

 

Dental practitioners like Dr. Diane Earle, a second-generation Meharry-trained dentist, stand in the gap for those who may not have access to healthcare. In her role as Managing Ddental Director for Kool Smiles, Earle said that, “Sharing Smiles Day is an opportunity for our dentists and staff to put a smile back on the faces of children who need dental care but whose families cannot afford it.”

 

Pew says that more than 18 million low-income children had no access to health care in 2014. Kool Smile’s modest effort to see 500 or more children on May 20 doesn’t begin to deal with the enormity of the challenge, but it’s an effort that will make a big difference for the children who are treated. And it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of dental health that the role that dental service organizations (DSOs) like Kool Smiles can play in closing the dental health gap.

 

Full disclosure: I’ve worked with Benevis and Kool Smiles and their dental service organization, Benevis, on a program called Watch Yo’ Mouth, featuring Dr. Diane Earle and healthy living author Debra Peek-Haynes. We plan to offer more of these programs in coming months. Meanwhile, though, I am excited about Sharing Smiles Day and about developing ways more low-income children can have access to dental care, so that there can be a healthy smile for every child in our nation.

 

Julianne Malveaux is an author, economist and founder of Economic Education. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available to order at Amazon.com and at www.juliannemalveaux.com. Follow Dr. Malveaux on Twitter @drjlastword.

 

Category: Opinion

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