United For A Fair Economy

Article One

Subprime Lending Crisis Gets Racial Perspective

Our report, "Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008," is getting a lot of attention. Co-authors Amaad Rivera, Brenda Cotto-Escalera and Dedrick Muhammad have given voice to the racial aspects of the subprime loan crisis on CSPAN, Democracy Now!, and NPR's Talk of the Nation. Numerous media outlets have also featured findings from the report and many people are responding and taking action.

By pointing out the destructive nature of predatory loans for people and communities of color, we hoped we would make people see the issue in a new way. We are pleased that it seems to be working. For example, we've heard from federal policy makers as well as many social justice and social change organizations.

This February as we honor the legacy of African Americans, with the lens of an impending recession, we cannot forget the words of Martin Luther King Jr. "Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice."

As we exposed the reality of the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in modern history, we hope we have moved people to demand what King described as "lifting our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice."

Go to the main report page.

See the list of press coverage.

Read Michelle Singletary's Washington Post column.

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Article Two

Bank of America Benefits from Lending Crisis, Taxpayers to Foot the Bill

While many homeowners stand to lose their homes due to predatory lending, Bank of America is setting itself up to shift millions of dollars of corporate taxes onto taxpayers.

The bank is planning to purchase Countrywide Financial Corporation - which has become a casualty of the subprime crisis -- for a staggering $4.1 billion. Ironically, Bank of America is in a position to do this having seen tremendous growth in recent years, especially from its strong Hispanic customer base, a group disproportionately hurt by the subprime mortgage crisis.

In his article "B of A's awesome Countrywide tax break," columnist Allan Sloan explains the significant tax savings from the debt that the bank will assume. "A $270 million annual deduction would save Bank of America something more than $100 million a year in federal and state income taxes...over the first five years, Bank of America can use a total of $1.35 billion of Countrywide's losses to shelter its income," he said.

The deal has not gone through yet, but the story just got even scarier with the "New York Times" bringing to light a confidential bailout proposal from BOA to Congress. This proposal has some analysts thinking that the merger with Countrywide is actually intended to make lobbying for a bailout of BOA more successful.

Read the Allan Sloan article.

See the Motley Fool take on the sleazy side of the merger.

Read Public Campaign Action Fund's blog and respond.
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Article Three

A Community Approach to Affordable Housing

In their article "A foreclosure-free option," Responsible Wealth member, David Abromowitz, and his colleague Roz Greenstein discuss the use of Community Land Trusts (CLTs) to provide a community-based alternative to subprime mortgages as a way for low-income folks to become and remain homeowners.

In essence, the land trust "lends" houses to residents while remaining owner of the land. In Roxbury, Massachusetts, a neighborhood of Boston, more than 400 new homes now occupy once distressed or abandoned property, and the land trust is able to make sure that those houses are provided to low-income workers. The houses can be sold for profit, but not windfall, and the CLT stands as a steward for the community in establishing deals with banks and making mortgages work fairly.

Read Abromowitz and Greenstein's op-ed in the Boston Globe.

More about how CLTs are helping in Boston.

Background on CLTs and how they can address housing issues.
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Progressive Taxation Needs Your Voice

With the president and some presidential candidates saying they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent -- even as we face a recession -- progressive taxation desperately needs your voice. Please consider helping the fight to preserve the estate tax by joining us in Washington, DC, March 18-19, to lobby your Senators and Representatives in Congress.

You'll meet other progressive activists and hear prominent speakers such as Bill Gates Sr. and Barbara Ehrenreich as we join the Take Back America Conference. To learn more and register for the Estate Tax Lobby Day, click here. Or, contact Edith Bross, 617-423-2148 ext 126, lobby_day@feaf.faireconomy.org.

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Fostering Economic Justice in North Carolina

The North Carolina Justice Center (NCJC) is North Carolina's leading private, nonprofit anti-poverty organization. Its mission is to reduce and eliminate poverty in North Carolina by helping to ensure that every North Carolina household gains access to the resources, services and fair treatment that it needs in order to enjoy economic security.

As one of our recent education activities, Steve Schnapp of the UFE Education Team, traveled south in late January to help the NCJC and its allies leverage popular education approaches to strengthen and build a base for economic justice.

The two-and-a-half day Training of Trainers workshop was attended by 10 NCJC staff, and several activists from their partner organizations around the state. It focused on popular education principles and practices, establishing an eight-step process for curriculum design, and exploring how to enhance the community education work being done at the NCJC. The workshop was considered a great success and plans are in the works for a continued educational partnership between NCJC and UFE.

To visit NCJC's website and support their work, click here.

To find out more about our education programs, click here.
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Supporting the Economic Justice Movement by Building Capacity

Speaking of training, in April, UFE will conduct the first of three Training of Trainers (TOT) Institutes planned for 2008. It's designed to teach trainers, teachers, activists, and leaders a set of key principles and practices - a tool box for their work - based on popular education methods, within an economic inequality frame.

Participants will be encouraged to bring to the TOT examples or ideas of workshops, presentations, courses, etc., from their experience. Working in teams, participants will learn a curriculum design model that applies popular education principles to their situations. Then the teams will practice presenting the redesigned content, get feedback from their peers, and share ideas, insights, and questions. More info can be found here: http://www.faireconomy.org/news/training_of_trainers_institute. Please forward this link and description to those you think may be interested.

The Color of Wealth:
The Story Behind
the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide

Learn about UFE's acclaimed
Training of Trainers Institute
April 2008, Cape Cod, MA
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