Inspired, strengthened and sustained by faith, the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing is committed to confronting the unconscionable and unacceptable reality of homelessness in New York City. Recognizing society's shared responsibility and working as partners with those who have experienced homelessness, the Assembly will mobilize communities of faith to empower all people, to advocate public policies to eliminate homelessness, and strive for the transformation of society.
Acorn in the News for Having Given Clear Warning of the Mortgage Practices That Led to the Current Mortgage Crisis
Conservative bloggers and media personalities have been claiming that grassroots groups, like ACORN, empowered by the Community Reinvestment Act, bullied banks into making irresponsible loans in low-income neighborhoods. The bad loans, then divided and repackaged into forms like "mortgage-backed securities" and other more exotic financial products, ultimately infected the larger economic system causing it to seize-up.
In fact, as this City Limits article clearly demonstrates, ACORN was among the community groups who, back in 2000, called upon investment banks to adhere to 'best practices' in the mortgage lending business. These investment banks were not making mortgage loans, but they were providing capital and financial support to abusive lenders by buying and securitizing their loans. ACORN, and other community organizations, called upon the investment banks to refuse to buy loans from predatory lenders. In recent testimony before Congress, former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, stated: "The evidence strongly suggests that without the excess demand from securitizers, subprime mortgage originations (undeniably the original source of the crisis) would have been far smaller and defaults accordingly far lower." If investment banks had heeded the call to stop funding predatory lending, we may have avoided our current disaster. What ACORN and others wanted was for real banks, rather than non-bank lenders such as Countrywide, to adhere to the terms of the Community Reinvestment Act and offer quality lending in low-income and minority communities so that these communities would not depend on non-bank lenders pushing predatory mortgages.
As in previous years, the President's Fiscal Year 09 budget for federal housing programs represents significant cuts to low-income housing programs.
NYC Council passes bill to prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of how they pay their rent
This past week, the NYC Council passed an historic new law that will prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of how they pay their rent, including those who pay their rent with Section 8 vouchers. This comes after nearly a year NYC Council Members of working with the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and landlord and tenant advocacy groups to improve the administration of the Section 8 voucher program.
With the rising cost of housing, it's critical that we take every possible step to preserve and increase access to affordable housing. The Section 8 voucher program and other forms of governmental rent assistance are an essential source of housing in this City, providing a critical safety net for thousands of New York families with limited incomes. Yet, far too many tenants who rely on these vital forms of assistance have reported facing problems, delays, or even flat-out rejection from landlords when attempting to use government assistance to secure and maintain affordable housing.
On February 28, 2008, the New York City Council unanimously passed Intro 627-a, a bill that gives tenants the right to sue landlords for harassment. Harassment is defined by the bill as any act or omission, such as repeated interruption or withholding of services, by a landlord that causes or is intended to force a legal tenant to vacate an apartment.
The penalty for landlords found guilty of harassment would be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 for each unit where the violation occurred and possibly no rent increase for the harassed units. The most important deterrent to harassment would be a Housing Court restraining order against further violations of the law, a measure not available under current city or state regulations.
This is an important victory for tenants in rent-regulated apartments who often find themselves under pressure from their landlords to vacate their apartments so that the landlord can move the apartment to a market-rate rental.