An Open Letter To The Candidates: We Need Housing Solutions

Last week, a coalition of housing, civil rights, and consumer protection groups issued an open letter to President Obama and Governor Romney asking what they would do, specifically, to address […]

Last week, a coalition of housing, civil rights, and consumer protection groups issued an open letter to President Obama and Governor Romney asking what they would do, specifically, to address the housing crisis in America, and seeking a meeting to share best practices from around the country. Readers can add their voices to this request by joining the Home for Good campaign. The letter reads as follows:

Dear President Obama and Governor Romney:

A decent home for everyone is core to the American promise of opportunity, a source of security and pride. The chance to one day own a home we can afford, under fair terms, is a fundamental part of the American Dream. Rebuilding that dream is in our national interest, and crucial to our economic recovery. With your campaigns now in full swing, we ask that you explain what specifically you will do, if elected in November, to restore and enhance Home Opportunity for all people in our nation. And we urge you to adopt the proven and practical solutions that we describe below.

We are part of the Home for Good campaign, an alliance of organizations and individuals around the country who together represent millions of people across our nation. We are calling on our political, business, and civic leaders, including our next president, for bold action to:

  1. Stop needless foreclosures

  2. Expand affordable rental housing.

  3. Revive a sustainable path to homeownership.

The letter continues:

The foreclosure crisis continues to rob millions of people of their homes, resources, and sense of security, while the future of homeownership and affordable housing remains in grave jeopardy. 8.9 million people have lost their homes since 2007, and 2 million remain in jeopardy—senior citizens losing their economic security, children and families uprooted, neighborhoods blighted with vacant properties, lifetimes of economic security destroyed, and a continuing body blow to our national prosperity. Despite the progress that we’ve made as a nation, unequal opportunity and discrimination by banks, brokers, and others based on race and ethnicity have meant that communities of color are among those hardest hit by this crisis, with historic losses in assets and savings. The targeting of people and communities of color, of veterans and military service members, of senior citizens and others hurts us all and runs counter to our values as a nation.

Fortunately, there are many proven and practical solutions that can stem foreclosures, restore affected communities, protect fair housing and lending, and ensure that home ownership and affordable housing are accessible pillars of American opportunity into the 21st century. The Compact for Home Opportunity, a roadmap compiling solutions proposed by multiple groups, offers specific steps for policymakers, industry leaders, and everyday Americans.

As you ask to lead our nation out of this economic crisis, we ask you to explain your specific plans to address these challenges and uphold Home Opportunity for all people. What will you do to address the lender misconduct and inadequate rules and enforcement that led to the current crisis and continue to threaten our economy? How will you ensure that families or individuals with the resources and desire to be successful homeowners are not thwarted by future misconduct, arbitrary restrictions, or a lack of sound information? How will you help rejuvenate neighborhoods devastated by predatory lending and mass foreclosures? And how will you ensure that people of all races, ethnicities, and communities have an equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream?

We urge you to provide clear, specific answers, to endorse the pillars of the Home for Good campaign, and to incorporate the principles of the Compact for Home Opportunity into your campaign platform. We invite each of your campaigns to meet with representatives from our organizations to discuss these important steps.

We have not given up on the dream that so many people share of an affordable place to live, fair treatment, and the chance to one day own a home of their own in a neighborhood of their choice. Have you? We welcome an opportunity to discuss our priorities with you.

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