Newswire : Harvard Study: Steep declines in Black home ownership in major cities 39 million families challenged with housing costs

By Charlene Crowell

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( – For the 12th consecutive year, America’s national homeownership rate has declined, according Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS)’ annual report, State of the Nation’s Housing 2017. This year’s report also found these declines vary by race and ethnicity.
As some might expect, the steepest homeownership decline occurred in Black communities, where the percentage of homeowners dropped to 42.2 percent. Among the nation’s largest metro areas, Black homeownership declined the greatest in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas and Detroit. By contrast, Latino-American homeownership is higher at 46 percent; but both communities of color severely lag behind the nearly 72 percent rate of white homeownership.
“The ability of most US households to become homeowners,” states the report, “depends on the availability and affordability of financing.”
And therein lies the crux of the problem: access and affordability.
The lack of access to mortgage financing in Black America has a long history rooted in outright discrimination by private actors such as banks, and supported by inequitable federal housing policies that favored white communities, while intentionally disadvantaging Black communities. This discrimination hindered generations of Black families from entering and remaining among America’s middle class. These practices also resulted in lower levels of both Black wealth and homeownership.
Today, applying for a mortgage means a visit to a bank where high incomes, low debt and high credit scores are among the most favored measures for loan application success. Since the foreclosure crisis, according to the JCHS report, the median credit score for an owner-occupied home purchase origination increased from about 700 in 2005 to 732 in 2016.
Just as communities of color were wrongly targeted for predatory and high-cost mortgages that pushed them into foreclosure, these same communities are the most likely to have suffered credit score declines from foreclosures, unemployment or delinquent debt – or a combination of all three.
According to a 2017 CFED report, A Downpayment on the Divide, the mortgage denial rate for Blacks is more than 25 percent, near 20 percent for Latinos but just over 10 percent for white applicants.
The issue of housing affordability is just as challenging. CFED also found that whites are three times more likely than Blacks to receive financial assistance from families to pay for down payments and other upfront costs that accompany a mortgage. The racial disparity is due to America’s history of whites being able to accumulate wealth through homeownership opportunity while Blacks were denied. As a result, Black households typically delay homeownership 8 years longer than whites, resulting in a comparable delay in building home equity.
JCHS also found that nearly 39 million American families are financially challenged with their cost of housing.
So is the American Dream of homeownership realistic for communities of color?
A June 29 public hearing before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee focused on how mortgage finance reform and government-sponsored enterprises, also known as GSEs, must live up to its “duty to serve” all communities.
“Homeownership is the primary way that most middle-class families build wealth and achieve economic stability,” testified Mike Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending. “Wide access to credit is critical for building family wealth, closing the racial wealth gap and for the housing market overall.”
In the throes of the 1930s Great Depression, Congress created the GSEs to provide stability to capital markets and to increase the availability of mortgage credit throughout the nation. They were also given a mandate: Serve all credit markets all times, ensuring access and availability across the country.
From 2003 to 2006, the years leading up to the housing crisis, the GSEs followed an unfortunate private mortgage market trend. By loosening underwriting guidelines, particularly for Alt-A no documentation loans, millions of foreclosures occurred and GSE credit losses led to conservatorship under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, also known as HERA. HERA also enacted a number of reforms that have made today’s market stronger.
Now, with far fewer foreclosures nationwide, Congress is deliberating over the future of the GSEs and $6.17 trillion in mortgages they now hold along with Federal Housing Administration issued mortgages. “Home equity accounts for only 30 percent of the net worth for wealthier households,” continued Calhoun, “but constitutes 67 percent for middle-to-low income households. Home equity accounts for 53 percent of African-American wealth as compared to 39 percent for whites.”
Homebuyers of the future will be more racially and ethnically diverse than those of the past. The JCHS reported that non-whites accounted for 60 percent of household growth from 1995-2015. By 2035, it predicts that half of millennial households will be non-white.
When communities of all sizes, colors, and economies succeed, so does America. While much of our nation has financially recovered from the foreclosure crisis that brought the loss of homes, jobs, businesses, and wealth, recovery has been uneven and left many communities behind.
Those entrusted with leadership roles in the public and private sectors must agree that it is in our national interest to ensure that the recovery is inclusive and sustainable long-term. Broad access to mortgage credit still helps families and the national economy.
Concluded Calhoun, “The goal must be to ensure that the full universe of creditworthy borrowers – regardless of where they live, including in rural areas, or who they are – have access to the credit they need to be able to secure a mortgage so that they can build their American dreams.”
Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director for the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at

Newswire : In “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” Attorney Paul Butler takes on police brutality

By: Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)


 Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler writes about police brutality in “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.” (Georgetown University)
Police brutality in the Black community is as old as law enforcement itself.
Former federal prosecutor Paul Butler speaks in depth on the issue in his new book, “Chokehold: Policing Black Men.” “Even as a prosecutor I was a still a Black man,” said Butler during an interview on MSNBC with Rev. Al Sharpton. “I was even arrested for a crime I didn’t commit…I was acquitted in less than five minutes.”
In his book, Butler points out that Black people have never been in a situation of good faith in America with police. “When we say that the system is targeting Black men, that’s true,” Butler told Sharpton. Butler worked as a prosecutor at the Department of Justice and is now a professor at Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C. Butler also had a few recommendations for decreasing incidents of police brutality.
“Half of cops should be women,” Butler suggested. “Women cops are much less likely to shoot people.” Butler continued: “Cops should have college degrees. Cops with college degrees are much less likely to shoot unarmed people.”
Butler takes a “no-holds-barred” approach to writing about police brutality. In his book, Butler also points out that White men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States and that a White woman is ten times more likely to be raped by a White male acquaintance than becoming a victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a Black man.
Butler also speaks forcefully on the unwarranted fear Whites have of Blacks, and how that perception ends up impacting American policing.

Newswire : Now is the time to repair, not repeal, the Affordable Care Act

Alabama Arise

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday in response to the collapse of U.S. Senate efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act:

“The defeat of the Senate’s awful health care bill was a victory for Alabama families. This cruel plan would have gutted Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities in every corner of our state, to pay for huge tax cuts for rich people and big corporations. It would have hammered rural hospitals and nursing homes while sending insurance costs soaring for many older Alabamians. And it would have sent us back to the bad old days of limiting benefits and discriminating against folks with pre-existing conditions.

“Powerful advocacy from everyday people across Alabama and across the country stopped the bad Senate bill in its tracks. We urge senators to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start trying to make it work better for everyone. Our lawmakers should work together in an open, thoughtful, bipartisan way to strengthen the ACA, reduce insurance costs and extend quality, affordable health care to all Americans.”

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals promoting public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.

Dr. Remona Peterson coming to Greene County Health System to begin family medicine practice on July 24

Special to the
Democrat by:
John Zippert, Co-Publisher

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Dr. Remona Peterson

“ I am very excited about coming to Greene County Physicians Clinic to practice family medicine and serve the people of Greene County. I have been planning to come for many years and now that I have completed my medical studies, practice rotations and a residency in Tuscaloosa, I am ready to come,” said Dr. Remona Peterson.
Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Family Medicine. Her practice will be located in Eutaw, AL at the Greene County Physician’s Clinic and Hospital. As a family physician, she is uniquely trained to care for you as a whole person, regardless of your age or sex. In addition to diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, she will provide routine health screenings and counseling on lifestyle changes in an effort to prevent illnesses before they develop.
“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Peterson to our staff starting next week. I also want to compliment our Greene County Health Services Board of Directors for their foresight in making an agreement six years ago to help support Remona with a monthly stipend for her medical studies, in exchange for her promise to practice at the Physicians Clinic. This decision by our Board provides us with a homegrown physician at a point when we need her,” said Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System.
Dr. Peterson is the daughter of Charles and Shelia Peterson of Thomaston, AL, granddaughter of Willie M. Peterson of Greensboro, Alabama, and granddaughter the late Carrie and James Norwood, Sr.

She was Valedictorian of the Amelia L. Johnson’s High School Class of 2002. She is an Alumni of Tuskegee University where she earned a Bachelors degree in Biology and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She also earned a Master’s degree from the University of Alabama in Rural & Community Health. She completed her medical education through Texila American University School of Medicine located in Georgetown, Guyana and the University of Alabama Medical Education System.
During her Masters Degree studies at the University of Alabama, Dr. John Wheat encouraged her to serve an internship in Agromedicine, with Black farmers, at the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center in Epes. She did rotations at Emory University and Grady Hospital in Atlanta and her family residency was spent at the Capstone Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. “I am a child of the Alabama Black Belt and have already served many Greene County people as part of my education and training,” said Dr. Peterson.
Dr. Peterson is trained in several major medical areas and patient populations:
• Care for all ages from infants to elderly
• Care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease
•Emergency medical care
•Minor surgical procedures
•Minor skin procedures
•Mental and behavioral health care
•Joint injections
•Bone and joint care
•Preventive Exams
•Well-woman care, reproductive counseling, and family planning
Dr. Peterson is accepting new patients beginning July 24, 2017 at the Greene County Physicians Clinic, 511 Wilson Avenue, Eutaw, Alabama, phone: 205/372-1260.

Superintendent Carter assures board personnel in place for new school term

At the regular school board meeting held Monday, July 17, 2017, Superintendent James Carter assured the board members that all necessary personnel were on board to begin the next school term. Dr. Carter explained that we lost a couple of teachers due to re-location. “ One of our Math teachers said he hated to leave the Greene County school system, but he was getting married and would be relocating with his bride.” According to Superintendent Carter, “It was not easy securing a qualified Math teacher, but persistence and prayer were on our side.”
The board approved the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
* Employment at Robert Brown Middle School: Deborah Yvette Sommerville – 7th Grade Science teacher.
* Employment at Greene County High School: Jerria Prince – Math teacher; Karon Coleman – In-School Suspension Specialist.
* Recall at Robert Brown Middle School: Raven Bryant – Special Education teacher; Vassie Brown – Adjunct Instructor (Drama)
* Transfer: Dorris Robinson from P.E. teacher at Eutaw Primary School to P.E. Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School due to certification issues; Jeffery Wesley from P.E. Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School to P.E. Teacher at Eutaw Primary School.
* Reassignment: Fentress Means from In-School Suspension Specialist/GC Learning Academy to Physical Education Teacher at Eutaw Primary School.
* Leave of Absence: Tammy Anderson, teacher at Eutaw Primary School, to complete requirements of a ten day residency as required by the University of West Alabama – December 6 – 12, 2017.
* Additional Service Contracts 2017 – 2018 for the following employees at Robert Brown Middle School: (Separate Contract) Corey Cockrell – Head Football Coach; Henry Miles, Jr. – Asst. Football Coach, Asst. B-Team Basketball Coach.

Additional Service Contracts 2017 – 2018 for the following employees at Greene County High School: (Separate Contract) Karon Coleman – Head Football Coach; Rodney Wesley – Asst. Football Coach; Fentress Means – Asst. Football Coach.
Non-Renewal at Robert Brown Middle School: Wanda Blakely – Special Education Teacher. * Resignation Eutaw Primary: Gentrel Eatman, Physical Education teacher, effective July 6, 2017.

* Resignation Greene County High: Micheal Williams, Mathematics Teacher, effective June 23, 2017.
Employment of Chuck Jackson as Bus Driver for the system.
Catastrophic Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave: Cindy Taylor.
The board approved the following administrative services recommended by Superintendent Carter.
* Federal Funds – Conflict of Interest Policy.
* Travel for the following to Atlanta, Ga. to attend School Nutrition Association Annual Conference on July 9 – 12, 2017 (Gloria Lyons and Sandy Underwood.
* Change Order submitted by Dallas Air Conditioning in the amount of $24,100 for heat/air at Robert Brown Middle School
* Contract between Greene County Board of Education and Criterion K-12 Consulting for Formative Administrator Evaluation Support Services for 2017 – 2018 school year.
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Woods Therapeutic Services, Inc. to provide Behavior Aides for the 2017 – 2018 school year.
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Amy Wilson Quitt to provide speech-language therapy services to preschool children at Greene County Head Start, Eutaw Primary, and Warrior Academy for the 2017 – 2018 school year
* Agreement between Greene County Board of Education and Kim Herren to provide developmental services to children at Greene County Head Start for the 2017 – 2018 school year
* Bank reconciliations as submitted by Ms. Katrina Sewell, CSFO
* Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll.
Under instructional items, the board approved the Greene County Board of Education Strategic Plan 2017 – 2018.
In his report Superintendent Carter announced that Institute Day for all employees of the Greene County School System is scheduled for August 2, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. The start date for students will be August 7, 2017. This will be a full day. National Night Out and Back to School Rally is scheduled for Tuesday, August 1, 2017 on the town square.


Greene County Freedom Day celebration scheduled for July 29

The Greene County Civil Rights Museum, Inc. and several other Greene County community organizations will host the 48th Annual Greene County Freedom Day Celebration on Saturday, July 29, 2017 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the William M. Branch Courthouse in Eutaw, according to Spiver Gordon, Museum president.
The day long celebration will include a program honoring the Honorable Robert Hines, former county commissioner, school board member, community leader, church leader and lifelong farmer. Mr. Hines is also the last surviving elected official of the initial group of Black elected officials in 1969.
Other honorees at the celebration will include the Honorable Earnestine Tucker and the Honorable Harrison Taylor, both of Tuscaloosa. Special honorees will also include other freedom fighters who were engaged in the struggle for voting rights and civil rights in 1969.
Rev. Wendell Paris of Jackson, MS will be the keynote speaker. He is one of the early foot soldiers of the Voting and Civil Rights Movement. Other state and national leaders have been invited to this special celebration.
The day-long festivities will continue on the old courthouse square in Eutaw with praise, music, fellowship fun and food.


ANSA endorses Attorney Doug Jones, Birmingham, in the Democratic Primary for U. S. Senate on August 15

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Candidate Doug Jones with Greene County Commissioner Michael Williams (Dist. 5) at the ANSA screening


After a screening meeting with seven candidates for the position of U. S. Senator from Alabama, the Alabama New South Alliance unanimously endorsed Attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham for this position, in the statewide Democratic Primary set for August 15, 2017.
This is a special election, prescribed by Governor Kay Ivey to fill the U. S. Senate seat that was vacated by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions when he was selected to be U. S. Attorney General Luther Strange was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to occupy this seat until the special election. Strange is running for the position in the Republican primary against several challengers including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, congressman Mo Brooks, and eight others.
“It was the unanimous consensus of our ANSA Screening Committee to endorse Doug Jones for this U. S. Senate position, in the Democratic Primary, in the Special Election on August 15, 2017. He met all of the criteria that we set up to measure candidates and he gave strong answers to a wide array of questions raised by our committee,” said Sharon Calhoun, Co-Chair of ANSA.
Doug Jones was the former U. S. Attorney for North Alabama, based in Birmingham from 1997 to 2002. He was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by a Republican controlled Senate.

Jones is best known for the successful prosecution of those responsible for killing four young girls in the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.
In 2002, Jones was the lead prosecutor in the case that won murder convictions against Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry for the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four girls. The convictions came nearly 40 years after the 1963 bombing.
Jones also worked on the indictment of Birmingham abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, whose 1998 attack killed an off-duty police officer and severely injured a clinic nurse. Rudolph, who also placed a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics, was captured and convicted after Jones left office.
Jones has worked in private practice in Birmingham for the past 15 years and represented various clients including former Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair and others in various cases.
Jones said in his interview that Alabama officials spend too little time focused on the real concerns of the people — jobs, health care and education — and instead have “played on our fears and exploited our divisions for their own self interests.”
“We need leaders who people can talk to, reason with, and trust even if they don’t agree on every political position. We need leaders who people can talk to, reason with, and trust even if they don’t agree on every political position.”
Jones indicated that his work on the Birmingham church bombing cases had gained him a national following and reputation which would help in fundraising and support for his Senate race.
He told the ANSA Screening Committee, “ I want to work to use this Senate race to reinvigorate the Democratic Party in Alabama. This will be a transformational race and hopefully it will open the doors for the 2018 state races for Governor and Legislature.”
Seven candidates appeared before the ANSA Screening Committee on Saturday. They included six Democrats and one Republican. The Democrats in addition to Doug Jones were: Michael Hansen, Rev. Will Boyd, Jason E. Fisher, Vann Caldwell, and Brian McGee. The Republican was James Baretta.
“We want to encourage these candidates to stay active in the political process. We could only endorse one for this special election – but we will need many Democratic candidates in the 2018 election. We encourage these candidates to remain active with ANSC and ANSA and prepare for future elections,” said Gus Townes, ANSA Co-Chair.
For more information on the ANSA endorsement contact: Ms. Shelley Fearson – 334/262-0932