Congresswoman Maxine Waters was the keynote speaker at a recent forum designed to help Black and other non-White businesses, as well as those run by women, gain greater access to major banks and brokers to help sustain and establish their corporations.
“Since the recession really took hold in December 2007,” the congresswoman explained, “about 2.3 million homes have been repossessed by banks. Currently, about one in 10 American households, with a mortgage, is at risk of foreclosure.”
According to Waters, the non-White communities across the United States suffered the most in this economic downturn, because African American and Latino families represent more than half of all California foreclosures. This data came from the Center for Responsible Lending which also notes that African American and Latino foreclosure rates, respectively, are more than double those of White borrowers in California.
On the business side, the Black community has been impacted by the disproportionate distribution of foreclosed properties given to brokers from outside of Black areas for resale. Many Black-owned real estate offices have been forced to close down their businesses because of the disparities. “These are a couple of (the) reasons why I have worked so hard to help to offer more solutions to the problems facing our community,” Waters told those in attendance.
“We all reached out to (Rep. Waters),” Inglewood Century 21 owner Denise Woods said. “Some of us reached out individually to her as real estate professionals; African American real estate professionals. Then we decided we would come together as a group for the whole organization . . .”
“We told her what we were dealing with as far as the financial institutions were concerned in the distribution of their resale (and) their foreclosure properties, because we (African American real estate brokers) were being excluded. . . . the banks were using agents from outside of (the Black community).”
Within President Barack Obama’s Wall Street Reform bill were provisions authored by Waters that establishes a $1 billion program with The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide low-interest loans to unemployed homeowners in danger of losing there homes.
CEO Mark Alston of Alston and Associates Mortgage Company applauded the efforts of the congresswoman. “I am proud to say that I am the friend of someone who will stand up for those in our community,” Alston said. “I started looking at the numbers and the data (regarding Black businesses and Black foreclosure rates). After I saw the data, I got (angry). The economy and the recession has got me in a corner, I thought. I’m tired of working hard and not being able to go to the dentist. That is why this meeting is important.”
Alston emphasized that the Black community and its businesses need to understand what steps are necessary to remedy the problem of foreclosures. In addition, he pointed out the need to understand what policies and laws are in place to help those businesses and homeowners who face troubling situations due to lack of finances.
“You need to understand that you as a homeowner or business owner are not in the fight alone. You have people in government like (Waters) fighting for you.”
The corporations and businesses attending the summit included Citibank, Chase Bank, members of the Consolidated Board of Realists, and representatives from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.