April 30, 2015

VICTORY: HUD Program Changes to Reduce Foreclosures and Increase Affordable Housing

April 24, 2015 - Exciting news from our partners at Right to the City, Center for Popular Democracy, and Alliance for Community Empowerment:

Following a six month campaign led by the community groups working with the Right to the City Alliance (RTC) and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) of HUD announced significant changes to the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program (DASP).

Following the changes announced today, the DASP’s new plan will include:

  • A commitment to selling more loans through special pools that require investors to achieve a certain percentage of outcomes that help the surrounding neighborhood;
  • The creation of special auctions for nonprofit bidders only;
  • A 12-month foreclosure moratorium on all loans sold through the program;
  • Higher standards for loan modifications;
  • Improved reporting requirements; and
  • A 20-day first look period in which owner occupants, government entities, and nonprofits have the opportunity to buy a real estate owned property before an investor may bid.

“Wall Street has demonstrated how little they care about the stability of our neighborhoods,” says Giselle Mata a community leader with the group ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment).  “The federal government shouldn’t be putting us back into the hands of Wall Street vultures when there’s a clear alternative.  We noticed that HUD has listened and is making changes to help more non-profits, with a commitment to our communities, get these mortgages.”

HUD, now joined by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have been contributing to the Wall Street buy-up of neighborhoods across the country, through their bulk sale of delinquent mortgages. The private equity firm Blackstone is now the largest landlord of single-family housing in the country.  Community groups have been calling on the FHA to prioritize selling troubled mortgages to non-profits with a program to offer loan modifications with principal reduction and an affordable housing plan for vacant properties.  Instead, 90% of the 117,000 delinquent mortgages the FHA has sold since 2012 have gone to for-profit entities, largely private equity firms and hedge funds. A status report on the program, released by the FHA, showed that borrowers resumed payments on fewer than 13 percent of the mortgages as of February.

While Right to the City Alliance and the Center for Popular Democracy applaud the FHA’s movement in the right direction, they say there is still a lot more to be done.

Most importantly, the FHA needs to establish a “first look” program so that purchasers with a plan to offer modifications with principal reduction and to create affordable housing get a first chance to purchase all of the loans that the FHA is selling.  In addition, the FHA needs to strengthen affordability requirements for properties put on the rental market.

Over the past six months, community groups across the country have held rallies and protested at local HUD offices multiple times, in addition to national meetings with FHA staff.

“We’ve been strong, united and consistent in the work to defend our communities,” said Rachel Laforest, RTC’s Executive Director. “But this work is also about helping shape a housing economy that provides safe, dignified and long-term, truly affordable housing options for all families. We’re happy to see HUD take steps in the right direction, but more is needed to truly protect struggling homeowners and communities.”

In September 2014, Right to the City Alliance and the Center for Popular Democracy launched a national campaign calling on HUD to reform DASP. Read our report, Vulture Capital Hits Home: How HUD is Helping Wall Street and Hurting Communities.

###

RTC is working collaboratively across sectors to develop national housing policy that ensures that our communities and future generations have homes that are truly affordable, stable, and dignified. Our Homes For All campaign aims to protect, defend, and expand housing that is truly affordable and dignified for low-income and very low-income communities by engaging those most directly impacted by this crisis through local and national organizing, and winning strong local policies that protect renters and homeowners, and shifting the national debate on housing.

Find More By:

August 14, 2019

Identify. Describe. Dismantle. Repeat.

Nicky Goren, president and CEO of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, writes about calling out and then rejecting systems and institutions rooted in racism as a way to become not just non-racist, but anti-racist. This post was originally published here on Medium.

Nicky was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Meyer Foundation, which pursues and invests in solutions that build an equitable Greater Washington, is a member of NFG.


 

Nicky GorenRecently, the president of the United States openly targeted four women of color in Congress, overtly lying about and mischaracterizing things they have said and suggesting they, “go back to where they came from.” Later, at a reelection rally in North Carolina, he continued to stoke these flames of racism and hate as he appeared to bask in the glow of his supporters chanting, “send her back!” in reference to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. This, along with his tirade against Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and the Baltimore-area district he represents, was just among the latest in a long track record of openly racist comments, actions, stances, and tactics the president has used since long before he was elected to the highest office in the nation, and make crystal clear what he and his supporters seek to uphold.

We are long past any question about whether the president and many of the people around him and supporting him are racist. His actions and his words by any objective standard make it so. What is more important is to understand how our systems of government and white culture actively enable racism to continue to play out in our election processes, our governance processes, in virtually every aspect of our day-to-day existence in this country.

A great example is what happened after the president’s remarks when members of the House of Representatives condemned those comments through a resolution. In the context of that debate, some House members attempted to derail the resolution by turning to a House precedent that would preclude the speaker of the house from characterizing the president’s comments as racist; essentially, using precedent and procedure designed to inhibit the ability to call out racism in order to avoid confronting the very issue that is at the core of how we function as a country. If you can’t name it, you can’t address it. This is a prime example of how those in power (historically, white men) have created systems, processes, procedures, cultures, and norms, that allow them to maintain the status quo. We should all be scratching our heads.

We need to call out those in power who are silent or who use a so-called desire for civility — from the White House to the state house to our own houses — as a shield to maintain the structures of white supremacy that have gotten them to where they are and continue to oppress people of color in the United States on a daily basis.

White people who believe themselves to be socially aware need to understand how we are using our dominant cultural norms — that show up in ways including a general avoidance or reimagining of historical facts, an over-reliance on precedent, and outrage at the very idea of being thought of as racist — to shield ourselves, our systems, and those in power from accountability for equitable outcomes. Many of us are constantly deflecting and, thereby protecting, the way things are.

I challenge white people to become not just non-racist, but anti-racist — and to call out racists and racism when we see it. We need to hold those who are perpetuating systems, institutions, and practices rooted in racism accountable. And we need to recognize what we are seeing for what it is; not something from our ancient past that we can absolve ourselves from, but something that is deep in the DNA of this country. We must actively name and refuse to accept racism any longer if we want to move forward and reflect the standards of freedom and democracy we believe we stand for.

In the words of author, historian, and professor Ibram Kendi: “The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it.”

Let’s keep going.

Find More By:

News type: 
August 15, 2019

Beyond Outrage: A Clarity of Purpose

Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director of the General Service Foundation, urges grantmakers and the philanthropic sector to take concrete actions to defend democracy and speak out against racist attacks on people of color. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Dimple was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. General Service Foundation, which partners with grassroots organizations to bring about a more just and sustainable world, is a member of NFG.


  

Dimple AbichandaniWe live in dangerous times, and every passing news cycle contains another outrage, another violation of norms, another threat to our democracy, another threat to our planet.  

In the face of escalating racial attacks, (be it imprisonment of kids on the border or the racist rhetoric being tweeted from the white house) many have noted, rightly, that philanthropy as a sector has been too cautious and too quiet.  The Communications Network, in it’s recent piece, Silence Speaks Volumes, calls on foundations to use their voices in this moment.

Yes, it’s meaningful for people from all sectors of our society to condemn the Administration’s attacks on people of color.  And, for those of us working in the philanthropic sector, these times call on us to use all of our tools in defense of our inclusive, multi-racial democracy.  We are more than commentators or observers– as funders, our role is to resource a more just and equitable future. What we do in this moment will be far more important than what we say.  

As painful as this moment is, it is also a time in which the work to be done has become more clear. The vulnerability of our democracy has become more clear.  Racial anxiety and social divisions are being stoked in order to prop up a reckless system that benefits only the wealthiest. As we condemn the most recent of a long list of outrages, can we also use this moment to deepen our own clarity of purpose, and ensure that our funding will bring about a more just future? 

As funders, we can not only speak out but also take action to bolster our inclusive democracy.

  1. Support those most directly impacted by injustice. Instead of wielding of our own voice and power as a foundation, we can support those most directly impacted by injustice to build their voice, power, and leadership. They must lead the way to a more just world; it is our job to uplift and resource their visions and voices. National organizations such as Color of Change, New American Leaders, and National Domestic Workers Alliance, regional and state-based organizations such as Western States Center, Black Voters Matter and Workers Defense Project and so many others are seeding a future in which racial, gender and economic justice will be the norm.
  2. Invest in the creation and dissemination of narratives that reshape cultural attitudes around belonging in our country.  The recent escalation in the use of racist and sexist rhetoric is not happening in a vacuum– rather it builds on broader public narratives shaped by white supremacy and male dominance.  We need to normalize new narratives that humanize all of us, that value all of us. Organizations such as the Pop Culture CollaborativeReFrame, and the Culture Change Fund, for example, build capacity for narrative equity and culture shift.
  3. Question the default funding habits and practices that limit us from making a bigger impact in this moment. As funders, we sometimes have a blind spot for how our internal practices create unnecessary burdens and barriers for organizations that do the important work we support. This moment calls on us to question our practices, shift to ways of working that account for the gravity of the problems we face, and center the people who are leading the social change efforts we support. Could your foundation increase its payout, provide more general operating support, increase the length of grants, and minimize busywork for grantees? Could you shift your grant strategy to more boldly meet the moment or more directly address the imbalances of power in our society? The Trust Based Philanthropy Network has tools and stories of inspiration from foundations who have increased their impact by changing their practices.

So many of us in philanthropy are eager to do something meaningful in this tumultuous time.  Let’s challenge ourselves to use this moment to put our institutional values into practice. Let’s walk the walk as boldly as we talk the talk.