By Charlene Crowell
Blacks and Latinos support financial reform more than any other group, according to a new poll released by Lake Research Partners. When consumers were asked if Wall Street caused the financial crisis, eight out of 10 African-Americans agreed. Sixty-five percent of Latinos agreed, compared to an overall rate of 64 percent. The telephone poll, conducted in July by Lake Research Partners, was jointly commissioned by the Center for Responsible Living (CRL), AARP, and Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and the National Council of La Raza. Considering that communities of color have lost the most financial ground during the greatest recession since that of the 1930s, racial and ethnic differences in responding to the poll are not surprising. In general, people of color tend invest more in their personal residences than in stocks or bonds. Unfortunately, many times our communities are also the unfortunate targets of predatory lenders offering a range of high-cost products that often leave consumers in worse financial shape than before. For example, in a recent guest commentary in The Hill, Congresswoman Maxine Waters said, “Many of us on Capitol Hill who feel strongly about the need for reform have been struggling with the sometimes-subtle, sometimes-overt, but always tenacious, attempts to undermine financial reform over the last two years. And because we’re sensitive to making sure that the law we passed works in practice, even some allies of financial reform are often too quick to believe the industry when they cry wolf about the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank.” Similarly, Jose A. Garcia, policy fellow, Wealth-Building Policy Project, National Council of La Raza, stated: “Latino voters, regardless of party affiliation, overwhelmingly support consumer protections as a means to ending decades of costly and deceptive credit that has disproportionally affected Latino families and the economic security of the Latino community.” The 2010 Dodd‐Frank Wall Street Reform law was enacted in the wake of the economic meltdown to overhaul of the financial regulatory system. The law created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which consolidates the consumer finance protection authority previously scattered among seven different agencies into a single entity whose mission is to protect consumers from deceptive practices by banks, credit card companies and other institutions. Consumers of color polled favor a strong CFPB and also called for the Bureau to:
Require clearer explanations of lending rates, terms and fees; Oversee non-bank lenders; Write tough rules matched by Bureau enforcement; Create a searchable database where consumers can report unfair practices and/or view complaints and Protect military service members who have been deployed from mortgage and foreclosures.
In the aftermath of devastating financial losses, followed by a string of lawsuit settlements against many of the nation’s largest banks to resolve charges of discriminatory lending practices and lack of maintenance of foreclosed homes, many people of color are not just hoping for – but expecting redress.
Mike Calhoun, CRL president said, “Everyday Americans know what’s good for their pocketbooks, their families, and our economy – that’s why a large, bipartisan majority is calling for financial reforms to take effect. Let’s hope policymakers hear them loud and clear.” AARP Executive Vice President , Nancy LeaMond, said, “During the financial crisis, too many older Americans lost their savings due to the failure of an outdated and compromised financial regulatory system. That’s why most Americans say they want clear, accurate information so they can make the best financial decisions for their families, and a watchdog that will protect them from financial abuse.
Additional information on poll results is available at: http://rspnsb.li/P4tU0D. Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at:Charlene.firstname.lastname@example.org.