Civil Rights & Advocacy Groups Call for Mortgage Industry Reform, Foreclosure Relief for Millions

Offers Plan to Restore the American Dream Bring End to Predatory Practices

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The nation’s largest civil rights organizations in conjunction with multiple community-based and consumer advocacy groups demand that millions of Americans be granted immediate relief from the nation’s mortgage crisis. At today’s “Save Our Homes: Restructure Loans, Not Repossess Homes” Rally held in New York’s Financial District (Wall Street), the alliance offered strategies to end the mortgage crisis as well as predatory, discriminatory practices that currently plague the lending industry that has resulted in a record number of home foreclosures--up 94 percent in the last year alone--and late mortgage payment levels that now stand at a 20-year high. 

The broad coalition calls for reforming current mortgage lending practices and a moratorium on active foreclosures. The NAACP and its partners demand that the mortgage lending industry--all of whom have ties to Wall Street’s investment firms--and policy makers at all levels act now. A Congressional estimate puts 2 million American homeowners with sub-prime mortgages at direct risk of losing their homes this holiday season if nothing is done to immediately remedy the situation.

“The sub-prime loan is firmly implicated in the severity of the mortgage crisis,” said Interim NAACP President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. “Data shows us that African Americans disproportionately hold more than  half of these higher priced loans that stymie families' attempts at keeping good credit, retaining their homes and amassing wealth. The home loans that have been offered to African Americans were built on financial quick sand and we are demanding that a solid foundation be laid to replace the damage that has been done and reduce the risk that stands to decimate whole communities.”  

President Bush’s mortgage crisis plan unveiled late last week is inadequate, the coalition asserts. His plan contains numerous limitations that would exclude sub-prime borrowers who are delinquent and those most hurt by predatory lending. The administration’s plan does not scrutinize the practices of the lending industry either and is voluntary, allowing participating lenders to stave off government investigation or intervention.

“The combined threat of sub-prime loan defaults and excessive indebtedness has supplanted terrorism and the Middle East as the biggest short-term threat to the U.S. economy,” said RainbowPUSH founder and President Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. “These companies have set no funds aside for their victims--homeowners--nor have they offered to restructure loans so people can stay in their homes. It’s time to put economic justice on the agenda. We want Congress to protect homeowners and consumers, and not just protect Wall Street by bailing-out the financial institutions. Then there must be a full investigation and criminal prosecutions where warranted. We have to stand up for our neighbors and save our communities. We need to defend ourselves from more economic pain.”

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The coalition supports a seven point Homebuyer’s Bill of Rights developed by the National Urban League that includes saving for homeownership, affordable housing opportunities, fairness in lending, fairness in case of loan default and aggressive enforcement of fair housing laws. The complete details of the Homebuyer’s Bill of Rights can be found online at: www.naacp.org, www.nul.org or www.rainbowpush.org.  

“We must put a stop to this crisis before it causes major disruptions in our credit markets and economy and devastates urban communities where sub-prime lending has helped millions of hard-working Americans own their own homes for the very first time and has pushed homeownership rates among minorities to historic levels,” said National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial. “All homeowners deserve to be treated fairly when facing foreclosure—not left powerless to watch their homeownership dreams wither and die. We urge lenders to restructure loans not repossess homes.” 

In July the NAACP filed suit in federal court against 14 of the country’s largest lenders, alleging systematic, institutionalized racism in sub-prime home mortgage lending. This is the first known lawsuit that challenges such lending practices on a broad scale. Those proceedings continue.

The NAACP, National Urban League, RainbowPUSH and its partners vow to keep up the fight for economic equality on all fronts, including in court and in Congress. The coalition encourages Congress to pass a comprehensive bill regulating the sub-prime loan industry to eradicate the current patchwork of 50 state laws.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

National Urban League (www.nul.org) Established in 1910, The Urban League is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League, headquartered in New York City, spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates. There are over 100 local affiliates of the National Urban League located in 36 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research.

The RainbowPUSH Coalition is a progressive organization fighting for social change. As a mighty coalition of conscience; workers, women and people of color have the power to make the American Dream a Reality!

 

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