Four Ways the Community Reinvestment Act Can Be a Stronger Advocacy Tool for Latinos

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, UnidosUS

Photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). This landmark law has ensured fair and affordable access to bank services, credit, and investments for Latinos and low-income communities across the country. The CRA was signed into law to correct widespread discriminatory lending practices, called redlining, that prevented communities of color and low-income communities from qualifying for a home loan. Yet, even today Latino families are denied a mortgage at a higher rate than White families. And we continue to face discrimination when looking for an affordable place to live. Changes are needed to strengthen the law to make it a more effective advocacy tool for Latino communities.

The CRA requires banks to provide services and make credit available to low-and moderate-income communities in areas where they do business. To ensure banks are following the law, every three years their performance is evaluated based on activities including how many home loans they have approved for low-income families and the type of investments they make in low-and moderate-income neighborhoods. Additionally, community members can give their feedback on the bank’s performance directly to the bank or the bank’s regulator.

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Giving Credit Where it’s Due: Latinos and Credit Scores

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR
Family in front of house

In the run up to the Great Recession, Latinos and other low-income homebuyers of color more often than not received higher-priced mortgage loans than White borrowers. Today, Latinos and low-income communities of color are still being short-changed in the mortgage market.

In 2015, few mortgages were made to Latino and Black borrowers, with 8% of all home purchase loans made to Latinos, and only 5% going to Black borrowers. Tight lending standards have made it difficult for millions of Americans to buy a home since the Great Recession, especially for Latinos and low-income families with credit scores below 700. While the minimum credit score needed to qualify for a home loan has increased by 40 points, the credit scores of Latinos who receive mortgages have increased by nearly 80 points since 2000.  Moreover, Latino borrowers are less likely than White borrowers to have a credit score and full credit history, making them appear riskier to lenders than they really are.

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Six Trends That Show Latino Homeownership is Important to the Housing Market and the Economy

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Headlines about the nation’s housing market have focused on the low homeownership rate, currently stalled at 63%, compared to a high in 2001 of more than 73%. Yet, little attention has been paid to the impact of the low Hispanic homeownership rate on America’s ongoing economic recovery, and in turn, the future of the nation’s housing market.

Overlooking this impact is a huge oversight, given that the majority of new households formed in the next two decades will be made up by homeowners of color. In fact, Latinos are expected to account for 40% of those new households. At the end of 2016, the Hispanic homeownership rate increased to 47%, but remained much lower than the peak of 50% nearly 10 years ago. With significant household growth on the horizon, creditworthy Latinos need access to homeownership to ensure that the opportunity to build wealth is available to all Americans in the decades to come.

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How Will Secretary Carson Engage Latino Homebuyers?

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Many questions remain for Dr. Ben Carson, who last month was officially sworn in as our newest Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Since his January 12 confirmation hearing, many are still wondering how Dr. Carson will fulfill HUD’s mission and carry out the critical task of providing affordable rental and homeownership opportunities—free from discrimination—for all Americans.

On March 28, Secretary Carson had an opportunity to discuss his housing policy priorities at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals Conference. It was an important audience for Secretary Carson—the Association represents the largest group of Hispanic real estate professionals, whose primary mission is getting Latinos into homes. This is a critical constituency, because Latinos are expected to form more than 40 percent of new households in the next decade. By 2020, Latinos are expected to account for half of new homeowners. Yet today, only 46 percent of over 14 million Hispanic households own their home, well below the rate in 2006, before the housing crisis, when nearly half of over 12 million Hispanic households owned homes.

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Weekly Washington Outlook — May 9, 2016

U.S. Capitol 1793-1863 Washington, DC, USA

U.S. Capitol 1793-1863 Washington, DC, USA

 What to Watch This Week:



The House returns from its recess on Tuesday and will consider the following legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • 2755– Fallen Heroes Flag Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt / House Administration Committee)
  • R. 4063– Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act, as amended(Sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 4957– To designate the Federal building located at 99 New York Avenue, N.E., in the District of Columbia as the “Ariel Rios Federal Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Andre Carson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 4985– Kingpin Designation Improvement Act of 2016(Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Foreign Affairs Committee)
  • 32– Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 5048– Good Samaritan Assessment Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Guinta / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 5052– OPEN Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy / Judiciary Committee)
  • 125– Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 2137– Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins / Judiciary Committee)
  • R. 3209– Recovering Missing Children Act (Sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen / Ways and Means Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will also vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 4843– Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act (Sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta / Education and the Workforce Committee)
  • R. 4978– NAS Healthy Babies Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Evan Jenkins / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 3680– Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 3691– Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 1818– Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4969– John Thomas Decker Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Pat Meehan / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4586– Lali’s Law (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Dold / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4599– Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4976– Opioid Review Modernization Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4982– Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act of 2016(Sponsored by Rep. Bill Foster / Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • R. 4981– Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Larry Bucshon / Energy and Commerce Committee)

In addition, the House will vote Wednesday on H.R. 4641, legislation to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes (Subject to a Rule)(Sponsored by Rep. Susan Brooks / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Thursday and Friday the House will vote on the following:

  • R. 5046– Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner / Judiciary Committee)
  • Consideration of House Amendment to S. 524 – Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016
  • Motion to go to Conference on S. 524, and Possible Democrat Motion to Instruct Conferees


The Senate returns from its recess on Monday and will resume consideration of the Energy and Water appropriations bill.  A vote on a substitute amendment to the legislation is scheduled for Monday evening.  Later in the week, Senator McConnell (R-KY) may schedule a procedural vote on a “minibus,” combining spending bills for Transportation-Housing and Urban Development and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs.
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Weekly Washington Outlook — March 23, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:



On Monday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

1) H.R. 360 – Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Pearce / Financial Services Committee)

2) H.R. 233 – Tenant Income Verification Relief Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Ed Perlmutter / Financial Services Committee

3) H.R. 216 – Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

4) H. Res. 53 – Condemning the cowardly attack on innocent men, women, and children in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Robin Kelly / Foreign Affairs Committee)

5) H. Res. ___ – Calling on the President to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity (Sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel / Foreign Affairs Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will meet for a Joint Meeting of Congress to receive His Excellency Mohammad Shraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The balance of the week, the House will consider under suspension of the rules, H.R. 1092 – To designate the Federal building located at 2030 Southwest 145th Avenue in Miramar, Fla., as the “Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Field Office”, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Frederica Wilson / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee).

The House will also vote on its budget resolution and legislation related to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate.


On Monday evening, the Senate will begin considering amendments to its budget resolution. The Senate will stay on the budget through Thursday when the chamber will have a “vote-a-rama,” a procedural quirk that allows Senators to bring up amendments in quick succession.

White House:

On Monday, the president will host the 2015 White House Science Fair and celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. This year’s Science Fair has a specific focus on diversity and includes many students from under-represented backgrounds who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work. In the afternoon, the President will host and deliver remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. SelectUSA, created in 2011, is the first-ever federal effort to bring job-creating investment to the United States, promoting the United States as the world’s premier business location, and providing easy access to federal-level programs and services related to business investment. The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit aims to connect investors from around the world with representatives from nearly every U.S. state and territory.

On Tuesday, President Obama will host Afghan President Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, and key members of their unity government for meetings and a working lunch at the White House. The two presidents will discuss a range of issues including security, economic development, and U.S. support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process. This marks the first meeting between the two presidents at the White House following the 2014 presidential election, which produced the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history.

On Wednesday, the president will deliver remarks at a kick-off meeting of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network, which aims to bring public and private sector actors together to build on the Affordable Care Act’s efforts to move health care toward a system that provides the best care for patients and pays providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity of care they give patients.

On Thursday, President Obama will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to deliver remarks on the economy.

On Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

Also this Week:

Immigration – The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold three hearings this week related to immigration. These are likely leading up to consideration of companion legislation to Congressman McCaul’s border security legislation marked-up earlier this year.

  1. On Tuesday, “Security the Border: Assessing the Impact of Transnational Crime.”
  2. On Wednesday, “Security the Border: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Central American Migration to the United States.”
  3. On Thursday, “Securing the Border: Defining the Current Population Living in the Shadows and Addressing Future Flows.”

Elsewhere, there is an expectation that the Senate may consider several immigration-related amendments to its budget resolution throughout the week and during Thursday’s vote-a-rama. Senator Sessions included language in the base resolution already that would bar DAPA recipients from claiming Earned Income Tax Credit, but others related to the Child Tax Credit and the executive actions as a whole could come up as well. In response to these, Senate Democrats plan to offer the Gang of 8 immigration bill, S. 744, as a side-by-side to send a strong message that comprehensive immigration reform is the solution.

Budget – Both the House and Senate this week will consider their respective budget resolutions. Both include draconian cuts to domestic programs and programs for low-income individuals. The House, unlike the Senate, also partially privatizes Medicare as previous House budgets have done. There is an expectation that defense spending will be contentious in both bodies throughout the debate, given that both maintain overall spending limits set by the Budget Control Act. As the Senate debates amendments all week in the lead-up to its marathon vote-a-rama, Democrats are likely to offer broad messaging amendments on their priorities including pay equity, lifting sequestration, enacting comprehensive immigration reform, and more.

Appropriations – A number of Administration officials will appear before House Appropriations Committee subcommittees this week, including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. He will appear Tuesday before the House Transportation-HUD Subcommittee. Labor Secretary Tom Perez will testify before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee on Thursday.

Nominations – Consideration of Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General has been delayed until mid-April. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had signaled the chamber would vote on her nomination after they completed work on the trafficking bill, which has been stalled because of language related to abortion.

Labor – The President could veto, as soon as this week, a joint resolution disapproving of the National Labor Relations Board’s election rule allowing for expedited elections before collective bargaining. The resolution passed the House last week and the Senate earlier this month.

Health – The House is likely to vote this week on H.R. 1470, legislation to permanently replace Medicare’s physician payment formula, the Sustainable Growth Rate (also known as the “doc fix). This legislation also includes a two- year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. While the current Sustainable Growth Rate patch expires at the end of the month, it is unlikely the Senate will vote this week on the legislation.  A number of Senate Democrats have expressed concern that this legislation is mostly not offset, includes a permanent solution to doctors, but only extends CHIP two rather than four years. Elsewhere, the Affordable Care Act turns five years old this week.

Housing – This week, the House will vote on H.R. 233, legislation that will require a review of family-income every three-years (rather than annually), to qualify for low-income housing programs.  Families would also have to certify annually that 90 percent of their income was fixed, and the source of income remained unchanged.

Banking – The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on regulations affecting regional banks.  On Wednesday, the Committee will hear from Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin on the financial stability of non-bank institutions.

What Happens When We Put More Money in Workers’ Pockets?

By Alicia Criado, Field Coordinator, Economic Policy Project

Labor Day Banner Photo 3_heavy machineryIf we raise the minimum wage, workers will have more money in their pockets to spend, which would provide businesses with more customers.  And businesses with more customers need to hire more workers.  Everybody wins—business owners, workers, and especially our struggling economy.  However, thanks to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the debate is swirling around whether raising the minimum wage will actually create or eliminate jobs.

The bottom line is that the CBO got some things right, but it also got some things wrong.

Here is where they got it wrong.  The report contradicts the latest research that either predicts job creation or little to no job loss if we raise the minimum wage.  The CBO claims that once the minimum wage is fully increased to $10.10, total employment would be reduced by about 500,000 jobs in the second half of 2016. Continue reading

The Most Important Issue to You in 2014: Immigration

Happy New Year!

As we start out 2014, we wanted to be sure we heard from you about what is most important as we begin our work. We’re happy today to report to you those results.

The results below reflect responses in English and Spanish from 467 participants. The majority of those surveyed selected immigration as the issue most important to them. Similar to the rest of the country, our survey respondents selected jobs as the next most important, followed by housing and education. We’re working hard to make sure comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality in 2014.

Here’s the breakdown by the numbers for all four questions:


Here’s the ethnic breakdown of our respondents:


And, the age range:


Finally, the political breakdown of all the participants:


Thank you to all to who texted us to participate. And, if you haven’t already done so, text REFORM to 62571 to be a part of the fight for immigration reform in 2014!

New Report Uncovers Housing Discrimination Against the Latino Community

Every year, there are more than four million incidents of housing discrimination that occur in the United States.  Yet these incidents are tremendously underreported, particularly within the Latino community.  A new NCLR and Equal Rights Center (ERC) report, “Puertas Cerradas:  Housing Barriers for Hispanics,” takes a closer look at the housing experience of Hispanics in three Southern cities:  Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; and San Antonio, Texas.  Although the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on national origin, our investigation reveals that Latinos continue to face adverse or differential treatment when trying to buy or rent a home.

The federal government’s failure to pass any kind of meaningful immigration reform has encouraged states and municipalities to act as immigration regulators and craft their own misguided anti-immigrant policies.  State laws such as Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 and Alabama’s even more egregious H.B. 87—both of which effectively codify racial profiling—have stoked a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that affects all Latinos regardless of citizenship status.  As a result, all aspects of life have been affected by this increasingly hostile environment, in particular Latino families’ equal access to housing.

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Getting Housing Finance Reform Right

Enrique Lopezlira, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic & Employment Policy

Family in front of houseEarlier this month, the Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee released a set of principles for housing finance reform. These principles come in the wake of recently introduced legislation, in both chambers of Congress, to determine the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) under conservatorship since 2008.

Many of the Democratic principles released are in line with the principles NCLR and partner organizations have been advocating which will help to ensure equitable and sustained access to affordable credit for Latinos and other communities of color. For instance, the Democratic principles include the need to maintain access to the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. NCLR believes the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is the foundation of affordable homeownership. Long-term financing allows credit to be extended at a price that is affordable to low- and middle-income families. Research shows Latinos will account for 40 percent of net new households within the next 10 years, and these new households are expected to drive future demand for home-ownership. This demand for housing will materialize only if housing finance reform protects the viability of long-term fixed-rate mortgages.

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