(c) Greater Baltimore Community Housing Resource Board (GBCHRB) - December, 2006 - January, 2007 / Vol.12, No. 6

FAIR HOUSING NEWS

A newsletter about fair housing, community development, and neighborhood quality of life


GREETINGS!

Welcome to Fair Housing News!, a newsletter produced by the GBCHRB as a public service. Contact us for a free copy of any article or if you would like this e-mailed to you: 410-453-9500 / 800-895-6302 / mail@gbchrb.org . More info/resources: http://www.gbchrb.org.

IN THE NATIONAL NEWS

The 192-member United Nations General Assembly Adopted a Treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The treaty protecting rights covers civil & political rights, accessibility, & the "unrestricted right to education, health, & employment." "We have now reached a global consensus: The disabled are entitled to the full range of civil rights that those without disabilities enjoy," said the president of the Assembly Haya Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain. To take effect, the treaty must be ratified by 20 nations. Incidentally, International Human Rights Day was December 10th. You can read the treaty (GA-10554) at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/ga10554.doc.htm (New York Times, December 14, 2006:A8).

Census Study Finds Racial Disparities in Income, Education, & Home Ownership Persist and Are Growing. Census Bureau data found the median income for whites was $50,622, Blacks $30,939, Asians $60,367, and Hispanics $36,278. 75% of whites owned their own homes, but only 46% of Blacks & 48% of Hispanics. Educational disparities also persist among adults. 30% of white adults had at least a bachelor's college degree in 2006, compared to only 17% of Blacks and 12% of Hispanics (New York Times, November 14, 2006:A22).

Subprime Loans Increase Greatly - With Great Problems - Especially in a Changing Market. In 2000, there were 719,000 loans outstanding, 2.4% of all mortgages, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. By June, 2006, subprime loans were 5.7 million - or 13.4% of the total. Over 50% of the subprime loans are adjustable-rate mortgages, compared to only 18% of prime loans. Subprime adjustable-rate loans have especially increased to seniors and low-income borrowers, who are the least able to adjust to higher payments. This represents an historical change, as usually first-time buyers with spotty credit many times used loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) & issued by the banks. Lately, private lenders have made the FHA less used as they have provided credit on easier terms. The FHA requires a 3% down payment, but many subprime lenders ask for none. Also, the FHA cannot insure loans above $362,790, whereas subprime lenders impose no limits. There has been Congressional action on the issue. The House passed a FHA proposal to eliminate the minimum down payment & raise the loan limits, but it hasn't yet passed the Senate (New York Times, December 6, 2006:C1).

Study Predicts 20% of Subprime Loans Will Face Foreclosure. A study by the Center for Responsible Lending found that 20% of subprime loans - 1.1 million - made in the past two years are likely to go into foreclosure. The Center examined 6 million mortgages & is the first nation-wide study of the performance of subprime mortgages. The highest default rates are predicted to be in California, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, and Washington, D. C. The report projects 10% of Black and 8% of Hispanic borrowers will default. A spokesperson for the Mortgage Bankers Association said the projection was "pessimistic," but Wade Henderson, president & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said, "We need rules to curb predatory lenders, but we also need prime lenders to step up for this expanding market of borrowers. The lending community needs to step forward & take responsibility. It should not let itself be defined by its worst actors." (New York Times, December 20, 2006:C4)

Countrywide Financial Corporation to Repay New York Minority Borrowers. The New York Attorney General (now Governor) Eliot Spitzer announced that Countrywide, one of the largest mortgage lenders, will compensate New York minority borrowers "improperly steered toward higher-cost loans" & start a $3 million consumer education program. Countrywide also agreed to improve training for loan officers & pay the State to cover investigation costs. Now Governor Spitzer began investigating the lender after an analysis of federal mortgage data showed black and Hispanic customers were more likely than whites to receive higher-priced subprime loans (New York Times, December 6, 2006:C6).

LOCAL NEWS

FBI Reports Drop in Hate Crimes in Maryland. Police agencies across Maryland reported there were 195 hate crimes in the State in 2005, a drop of 20.4% from the 245 in 2004. While this is good news, there is a serious question about the numbers actually reflect the real situation. An undercount has been noted previously. Jenkins Odom, president of the Maryland NAACP, said "The question is whether that is a legitimate number. We're hearing and seeing the opposite. Some departments don't want to classify hate crimes as a hate crime." Of the crimes, racial was the basis in 56%, 15% religious bias, and 14% sexual orientation. (Baltimore Examiner, November 27, 2006:3)

National Homeless Persons' Remembrance Day Held on December 21st. Baltimore commemorated the Day with a memorial service in War Memorial Plaza. The National event was co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/index.html) and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

CALENDAR

There will be a "March for the Homeless" in Baltimore County on March 5, 2007. The 4th annual rally sponsored by Baltimore County Communities for the Homeless will begin with a dinner & rally at Trinity Episcopal Church (120 Allegheny Avenue, Towson) from 5:30-6:15 p.m., followed by a candlelight march to the County Courthouse at 6:15 p.m. After the march, attenders will attend the 7:00 p.m. County Council meeting & support a presentation to the Council members. For more info: email baltimorecountycommunitiesforthehomeless@hotmail.com or call 410-853-3914.

Note: The drawing to the left is entitled "Homeless" by George Grosz, famous German illustrator/artist. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Grosz: "George Grosz (July 26, 1893 – July 6, 1959) was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group, known especially for his savagely caricatural drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s. Bitterly anti-Nazi, Grosz left Germany in 1932 and was invited to teach at the Art Students' League in New York in 1933, where he would teach intermittently until 1955. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938."

The League of Women Voters' Lecture Series Continues. Upcoming "Focus on Contemporary Issues" lectures include a New York Times reporter on covering security issues on February 26th, the President of McDaniel College on March 26th, and a changing climate lecture by a policy fellow from the American Meteorological Society on April 30th. For more information, telephone 410-377-8046 or email lwvbaltimore@verizon.net.

DID YOU KNOW?

The 2007 NAACP Centennial Calendar is on sale. Part of the planned three-year celebration of the NAACP's upcoming centennial, the historical calendar is for sale for $19.95, plus shipping & handling. The calendar highlights actions, achievements, & contributions between 1909-1944. To order, go to the website at http://naacp.org/about/calendar/.

Contact the GBCHRB for FREE Fair Housing Info, Brochures, & Posters in English, Spanish, Korean, and Russian. We have informational brochures, Self-Help Guides to Fair Housing for individual counties, curricula for renting & buying housing, and much more! Quantities available for no charge! Contact us at: 410-453-9500 / 800-895-6302 / mail@gbchrb.org .

The Leadership Conference Has a Fascinating Civil Rights Book Club! The "club" highlights the best books in disability, Fair Housing, human rights, racism, immigration, and other social justice issues. Every month, they pick five relevant books and discuss! Check it out here.

The GBCHRB's Neighborhood Beat TV Show Is on Cable Stations Throughout Maryland! Hosted by Dr. Bill Kladky, the 30-minute interview show runs in Baltimore City, and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Calvert, St. Mary's, Talbot, Prince George's, and Montgomery, as well as in the City of Takoma Park! Call us at 410-453-9500 or email mail@gbchrb.org for days and times!

"Getting to Know Neighbors of Other Faiths."
This illuminating bulletin-insert may be downloaded from the Interfaith Relations Commission pages of http:///www.councilofchurches.org. It presents "a theological rationale for inter-faith relationships." For more information: contact the Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, National Council of Churches, USA at Shanta@ncccusa.org.

INTERESTING BOOKS

The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women Search for Understanding, by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, & Priscilla Warner. New York: Free Press, 2006. 320pp. $25.00 hdbk. Interesting reading for anything involved in interfaith dialogue of three women who are "brutally frank" about their differences and opinions. Contains suggestions for starting a similar faith club."

There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America, by William Julius Wilson & Richard P. Taub. New York: Knopf, 2006. 240pp. $23.95 hdbk. Sociological study of four urban neighborhoods undergoing racial and demographic change. The focus is on community loyalty, but exclusion, discrimination, bickering, & race-baiting are essential pasrts. Recommended.