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CBCF Hosts Town Hall Meeting at ALC

POSTED: September 23, 2008, 12:00 am

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The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) will focus on the mortgage foreclosure crisis as the subject of its National Town Hall Meeting on Thursday at this year’s Annual Legislative Conference, which kicks off tomorrow in the nation’s capital. Titled “Foreclosure Crisis: Repercussions, Reasons and Real Solutions,” the session will be a two-part discussion on the national mortgage crisis moderated by Marc Morial, president and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League.

The session takes place against the backdrop of the financial crisis that has rocked the nation over the past week. The collapse of investment banking firm Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, and the government bailout of American International Group’s (AIG) insurance business has prompted President Bush to propose a $700 billion bailout of firms with bad mortgage debt. The President’s proposal is now being fiercely debated on Capitol Hill. From the onset of the mortgage crisis Black homeowners have been greatly impacted as many were first-time homebuyers who were the recipient of risky adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) that have precipitated the crisis. Interest rates on ARMs are not fixed, they fluctuate and many homeowners end up owing more on their house than they borrowed. An initial “teaser rate” and low payments coaxed many first-time buyers, who started off with shaky credit histories, into ARMs that later ballooned and overwhelmed their ability to pay. Many Black first-time homeowners fell into this category and are now facing foreclosure.

“This housing crisis has a trickle-down effect that is affecting millions of Americans every day,” said Dr. Elsie Scott, Ph.D., president and CEO of the CBCF. “We will be hearing very personal, very real stories of what is going on beyond Washington. That is why we will have critical breakout and call-for-action sessions in the convention center following the town hall meeting.”

The first panel of the National Town Hall Meeting will feature Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-MD), and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in a discussion on the effects of the neighborhood stabilization bill on mortgages and foreclosures. Also joining the panel will be Franklin D. Raines, the former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, and officials from Citibank, the Federal Home Loan Bank and NeighborWorks America.

The second panel will include several mayors – Cedric B. Glover of Shreveport, LA; William Bell of Durham, NC; and Wayne Hall of Hempstead, NY – who will join community leaders to discuss interventions that have worked in their communities to stem the foreclosure crisis. This part of the program will be open to audience questions to allow people to address the issue from a regional and local perspective.

Following the National Town Hall Meeting there will be two breakout sessions; “Save or Sell” and “Credit Management after the Crisis.” Participants will have the opportunity to get specific information regarding personal credit management, mistakes to avoid and how to decide whether to hold onto their home or sell it.

These activities are part of a call-to-action the CBCF is issuing for September 25-26 during which time financial institutions, not-for-profit agencies, community based organizations and real estate professionals will assist homeowners in repackaging their mortgages, manage their debt and repair their credit if they have lost their home. Representatives of these organizations will be on-site to provide assistance and counseling. Homeowners are being asked to bring two of their most recent pay stubs, their most recent mortgage statement, and their mortgage closing documents if they would like assistance.

“What is going on in America right now is a shame and frightening,” said Dr. Scott. “Many families are struggling to hold onto their homes and many times, if they had just made a call to their creditors and mortgage companies, they would not have to lose everything. The Congressional Black Caucus and the Foundation are bringing together resources to help people keep the homes that they have worked so hard to buy. Our hope is to maintain and grow the American dream of homeownership.”

The National Town Hall Meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on September 25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, site of the 38th Annual Legislative Conference.

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