As promised, the Congresswoman re-convened another town-hall style meeting with lenders pressing the case for access and inclusion of Black realtors in the lending process.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Last Saturday, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) re-convened a follow-up meeting between the members of the Consolidated Board of Realists (CBR) and representatives from Bank of America, CitiMortgage, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo–those who were at the last meeting. In addition, there were representatives from “Freddie Mac” and “Fannie Mae.” They came to report on the progress or lack of, that had been made since Black real estate professionals including members of CBR had complained that the majority of foreclosed properties in the Black communities were listed with outside brokers.
The focus of the conversation was access and inclusion, and after being introduced by Mark Alston, the host of the event, president of Alston and Associates, and chairman of the legislative committee of CBR, the Congresswoman thanked the host, the audience and the bank representatives. She then delved off into the subject matter saying, “I know that many questions were raised at our last meeting, so I am very interested to see how your teams have thought about this issue in the last three months, and have changed policies and practices that produced barriers to inclusion.”
It was a mouthful because some of the same problems that were articulated three months ago still persisted, according to Alston. He laid out the specifics via power point using some of the latest statistics to buttress his case. However, his ‘stats’ only reinforced some of what the Congresswoman had already stated.
“This area of the country has been hit especially hard. The REO (real estate owned) rate in California was about 75 percent higher that the rate nationally,” she reported, “and the rate in my district was nearly 300 percent higher than the national rate.” (That staggering bit of information was highlighted in the report). “Unfortunately, this data just confirms what we already knew,” she continued. “That’s why I’ve worked hard since our last meeting in May to offer more solutions to the problems facing minority communities.”
Most importantly, both Congresswoman Waters and Alston were emphatic in their assertion that it was not a finger-pointing session or playing the blame game.
After the panel of bank representatives gave their presentations–some by power point and others verbally–the audience had questions. Some of the exchange was heated and adversarial, but Alston moderated it skillfully. Like the last meeting, lots of promises were made but real and meaningful progress will only come when Black real estate professionals see upward movements in their bottom lines. The rest is just “good” conversation.