Tlaib hosts Detroit hearing on access, equity issues in housing

Detroit | Robert Thompson, Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) hosted a congressional field hearing on Friday centering on affordable housing at Wayne County Community College District’s Northwestern Campus in Detroit. It featured members of the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is chaired by U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas).

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Al Green listen to testimony at a housing hearing | Ken Coleman

“Equitable, safe, and affordable housing is one of the top issues for residents in the 13th Congressional District and across the country,” Tlaib said.

Joining Tlaib and Green at the hearing were U.S. Reps. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) and Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn). The hearing titled, “An Examination of the Housing Crisis in Michigan, 11 Years After the Recession,” explored the impacts of the Community Reinvestment Act , discriminatory housing practices, and how to achieve equitable and fair housing in Michigan.

The 2008 financial crisis disproportionately impacted minority borrowers, according to a memo  provided by the committee.

“Partially as a result of predatory lending where mortgage products sold to minority communities came with less-than-favorable higher-cost terms as compared to mortgage products sold to similarly situated white borrowers at the height of the foreclosure crisis, about a quarter of Black and Latino homeowners had lost their homes or were seriously delinquent, compared to nearly 12 percent for White homeowners and 14 percent for Asian homeowners,” the memo reads.

Bernadette Atuahene at a housing hearing in Detroit | Ken Coleman

“During this same time period, 86 percent of Black homeowners and 36 percent of Hispanic homeowners were more likely to have underwater mortgages than White homeowners, meaning that their homes were worth less than the principal still owed on their loan,” the memo continues.

Bernadette Atuahene, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor, said during the hearing. “This is Detroit problem. This is a Michigan problem. This is a national problem.”

Atuahene co-authored a study with Christopher Berry of the University of Chicago called “Taxed Out: Illegal property tax assessments and the epidemic of tax foreclosures in Detroit.”

Lauren Mason, a Tlaib constituent, lost her home to tax foreclosure, a dwelling that her grandparents bought in 1968.

Debbie Dingell at a housing hearing in Detroit | Ken Coleman

“It was our legacy and a piece of what we called America journey,” Mason said during the hearing.

Dingell added that the “2008 recession hit everyone hard, but Michigan, especially. We saw businesses shutter. Hardworking women and men were put out of work by the thousands. We saw the near-collapse of the U.S. auto industry and long painful recovery, and, quite frankly, I don’t think anybody has offset the fear or anxiety in their hearts that they used to take for granted.” 

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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