People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH), a non-profit group working to improve housing conditions on Buffalo’s West Side, will host a public meeting with members of the Federal Reserve today to discuss proposed changes and improvements to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the Community Reinvestment Act. With the help of their national partner, National People’s Action, PUSH will hold this public forum on Thursday, July 16th at 6PM in the Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 371 Delaware Avenue.
At the meeting, formal testimony will be given by experts on the housing situation in Buffalo’s neighborhoods, including accounts from those personally affected by the devastating foreclosure process. Local organizations like Partnership for the Public Good and the Western New York Law Center will also be on hand to add their input. Additionally, there will be a question and answer session, so any member of the public can speak directly to members of the Federal Reserve.
Harrison Watkins, community organizer for PUSH, said the event will help people learn the scope of the economic crisis in Buffalo, as well as provide an opportunity to speak with national leaders. “I think it’s a pretty unique opportunity to participate in a forum with some national power brokers that don’t often come to Buffalo,” he said, “We need to make sure that they really know what’s going on here in Buffalo, and see that people take the foreclosure and economic crises seriously.”
The Community Reinvestment Act was originally passed in 1977, but has since lost its effectiveness, said Watkins. The law requires commercial banks to meet the needs of all members of the community, including minorities and low-income residents. Watkins said PUSH hopes the law is expanded to include all financial institutions, like lenders, and wants banks to be held to a meaningful grading system with appropriate consequences for poor performance. He said the group also wants to get the community more involved with the ability to appeal decisions.
The Home Morgage Disclosure Act, passed in 1975, requires financial institutions to annually disclose information about home purchases and refinance applications. Watkins said the act was intended to show if a bank or lender was discriminating against minorities or low-income families, but doesn’t always protect the public. PUSH wants expanded disclosures, as well as reporting on the purpose of loans.
For more information about PUSH Buffalo and this meeting, head over to PUSH’s Web site or call the local group directly at 716.884.0356.