The Promise of the Affordable Care Act Must Reach All Communities

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, more than 15 million Americans have received some type of health coverage. This open enrollment period alone has seen almost 7 million new sign-ups. Still, there are many more to reach, especially in the Latino community, where one in four remains uninsured.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Latino population is a community that is especially vulnerable to disparities. They often require special health care needs, and in some instances the ACA now provides important protections and benefits to ensure LGBT people can access that care.

New civil rights provisions in the ACA expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, class, sex, age, disability, and certain other categories. The provision, known as Section 1557, applies nondiscrimination protections to any and all health programs that receive funding from the federal government. The federal Health Insurance Marketplace and the plans sold through it are all covered under this nondiscrimination provision.

For many LGBT people living with HIV, diabetes, cancer, or other chronic conditions, even obtaining health coverage has long been a challenge. Before the ACA, having a preexisting condition meant that someone could be legally barred from getting insurance. Now companies must adhere to strict rules that disallow companies from refusing health care to anyone with any preexisting condition.

Reaching communities that are especially susceptible to our health system’s disparities is paramount if the promise of the ACA is to be fulfilled. We must communicate what the ACA means and connect eligible individuals to information and resources necessary to understanding their options for enrolling in a plan that meets their budget and needs. Let’s work to make sure the promise and benefits of the ACA reaches our entire community!

The deadline to enroll in coverage through the Marketplace is February 15, 2015. To learn more, head to healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Jan. 23

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Week Ending January 23

This week in immigration reform: President Obama defends executive action in annual speech to the country; House to vote on border security bill; states propose legislation affecting DREAMers; and Elle Magazine profiles the story of Anabel Barron, an immigrant mother and staff member at a NCLR Affiliate.

NCLR kept the community informed on immigration with staff quoted in Las Américas, El País, andMSNBC.

President Promises to Protect Administrative Relief in the State of the Union Address: In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a plan to promote the economic vitality of the middle class, to improve access to education and workforce training, and to ensure the progress made over the past six years isn’t reversed by partisan policies. Additionally, the president promised to block any legislation seeking to end administrative relief for millions of families. NCLR issued a press statement responding to the speech, including a statement by President and CEO Janet Murguía: “We are pleased to hear the president reiterate his plans to defend administrative relief regardless of any attempts by Congress to backtrack on this issue. His executive action will make our economy stronger, our country safer, and millions of American families more stable. The new Congress now has a choice to make on immigration—improve the situation, or make it worse. We hope they’ll choose to be agents of progress by finally delivering sensible and effective immigration legislation.”

House Republican Leadership to Bring Enforcement-only bill up for a vote: A border security bill, the “Secure Our Borders First Act,” will come to the floor for a vote next week in the House. The bill, sponsored by Congressman McCaul (R-Texas), would impose penalties for federal agencies that fail to meet certain requirements, like achieving “operational control” of the border in five years. “Operation control” would mean preventing every single illegal border crossing. NCLR opposes this enforcement-only approach which sets up unrealistic measures and wastes taxpayers’ dollars by throwing more money at flawed programs.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard chosen to manage Homeland Security budget bill:  House Democrats tapped Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) to oversee the annual Department of Homeland Security budget bill, the first Latino to serve in that role. APolitico article highlights how critical it is to have a Latino voice in the DHS funding debate, especially one that understands the human aspect of immigration with a dedication to protect the children of immigrants. “I have young Dreamers who because of the president’s policy have been able to go to college and get education and they come back to the community as teachers and attorneys. There’s tremendous value,” Roybal-Allard said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our borders, but I think everything depends on the premise, where we start.”

Nebraska and Virginia take action on policies regarding DREAMers: This week, a bill was introduced in Nebraska to allow DREAMers to obtain driver’s licenses in the only state with a policy barring DACA-recipients from getting a license. According to an Associated Press article, the bill has support from not only immigrant advocates, but business interests as well. The Nebraska Cattlemen Associate and the Nebraska Restaurant Association have both voiced support for the measure, emphasizing the economic benefits of immigrant workers in a state facing a labor shortage. “This is about growing Nebraska and being pro-business,” said Kristen Hassebrook, a lobbyist for the Nebraska Cattlemen Association. “We’re looking for people who want to live in rural Nebraska, who have the requisite skills to work with us, and who want to do the work that we do. And often, the folks at the top end up being from an immigrant background.”

In Virginia, a bill barring DREAMers from receiving in-state tuition failed to pass the Senate, partially as a result of immigrant advocates and protestations by undocumented immigrant students. A Washington Post article notes that, even if the bill passed the Virginia Legislature, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) said he would veto the “counterproductive and mean-spirited” legislation.

NCLR Affiliate staff member and advocate profiled in Elle magazine: Anabel Barron was born in Mexico, but grew up in a large family in San Antonio. She eventually came to live in Lorain, Ohio with her four U.S. citizen children. One day on her way to work, she was stopped for speeding and, unable to provide a driver’s license, was picked up by Border Patrol and placed in deportation proceedings. With help from community based organization, HOLA, support from her local church community and pro bono assistance from a local attorney, Anabel was granted a stay of removal, providing her with work authorization and a temporary Social Security number, enabling her to get a U.S. driver’s license. Anabel now works at NCLR Affiliate, El Centro and is hoping to go back to school for a degree in social work. Her story has a happy ending, but millions of families are still under the threat of deportation. President Obama’s executive action attempts to ease those fears. However, a comprehensive solution to a broken and harmful immigration system is needed to protect families, to grow the economy, and to ensure America stays true to its ideals. Read the entire profile.

Congress Should Not Impede the Nation’s Progress

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(This was originally posted to Huffington Post’s Latino Voices)

The president’s sixth State of the Union address to Congress last night was heavy on the actions our country should take to build on the progress that American families have made over the past two years, thanks to a recovering economy. In a statement today, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía called on policymakers to continue expanding opportunities for hardworking families and protect programs that have improved the lives of millions of Latinos.

“We implore lawmakers to pursue a legislative agenda that will continue to secure the economic futures of all Americans, including Latinos, by promoting policies that help create quality jobs, ensure our workforce has the necessary training and education available to compete in the 21st-century job market, protect vital tax credits for working families, and open up credit access to qualified home-buyers,” said Murguía.

A number of policy proposals aimed at improving conditions for working families were announced in the days leading up to the State of the Union address. Among them is a plan to extend tax credits to middle- and low-income families. We strongly support this much-needed change in policy that will surely help many more Americans reach their full potential.

Murguía also expressed support for President Obama’s proposal to cut fees on Federal Housing Administration loans, which would enable more first-time homebuyers to purchase a house. On the education front, the president further outlined his plan to make higher education more affordable for millions of hardworking students. This is especially crucial for Latinos. Our community has seen significant increases in high school graduation and college enrollment rates, but more must be done to guarantee that quality higher education remains affordable and accessible for everyone.

“Pursuing policies that open opportunities and provide Americans with the tools to achieve their dreams is not a Republican or Democratic ideal—it is an American ideal,” said Murguía. “We echo the president’s call for both parties to work together so they can find common ground to continue moving this country forward.”

Smiling DoctorPresident Obama also addressed the Affordable Care Act, emphasizing his administration’s success in enrolling more Americans. At NCLR, we have been actively working with our Affiliate Network and other national organizations in mobilizing and enrolling as many Latinos as possible in health insurance. In fact, over the past year, nearly seven million people have signed up for coverage, resulting in a significant drop in uninsured Hispanics.

On administrative relief, one of the most significant policy changes for nearly five million immigrants, the president defended his action and vowed to veto any bill that would undo it.

“We are pleased to hear the president reiterate his plans to defend administrative relief regardless of any attempts by Congress to backtrack on this issue. His executive action will make our economy stronger, our country safer, and millions of American families more stable,” said Murguía. “The new Congress now has a choice to make on immigration—improve the situation, or make it worse. We hope they’ll choose to be agents of progress by finally delivering sensible and effective immigration legislation.”

Find out more about our 2015 legislative agenda in our report, “State of Hispanic America: Striving for Equitable Opportunity.”

Kansas City Welcomes NCLR and Affiliates on Road to 2015 Conference

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The countdown to the 2015 NCLR Annual Conference kicked off yesterday in Kansas City, Mo., as community and city leaders gathered to reflect on the historic and continued positive impact of the Latino population in the region.

“It is our full intention to put the spotlight on so many who have made contributions in so many positive ways and highlight the strength of that diversity as we bring the Conference here,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía.

Watch highlights from her remarks:

The NCLR Annual Conference—the largest national yearly gathering of the Hispanic community in the United States—will be held July 11–14 at the Kansas City Convention Center. The Conference attracts thousands from throughout the country and features workshops, town halls, and nationally recognized speakers. In addition, tens of thousands take part in the yearly National Latino Family Expo®, which is set to include free workshops, health screenings, and activities for the whole family.

  • Get more information and register now here.

Also on hand yesterday were Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo and Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland. Attendees included members of local NCLR Affiliates as well as other government and civic leaders.

“Immigration has been the driving force behind the growth of Wyandotte County in every stage of its life,” said Holland. “We need to be sharing that message more vocally and clearly. Having NCLR here for its Conference gives us the opportunity to showcase the positive impact that immigration is having in our community.”

“The diversity that we have, and expanding that and opening up opportunities to the rest of the community, means economic development,” said Circo. “We’re looking forward for everyone to come to Kansas City to enjoy our vibrancy.”

Check out some of the social media highlights from the event.

The Work of the Fair Housing Act Is Not Yet Complete

HousingDiscrimination_blogpic_newHomeownership is a cornerstone of the American Dream and often a doorway to greater opportunity. The family that is able to buy or rent in a neighborhood with a thriving local economy is undoubtedly more likely to find the kinds of quality, well-paying jobs that will help them move up the economic ladder. Children who are able to attend good school systems have a greater chance of moving on to higher education and achieving their professional dreams. Choosing where to settle down is a decision with tremendous implications for a family’s future.

Unfortunately, not everybody is given a fair shot at living in the communities of their choice. The Fair Housing Act, signed into law more than 45 years ago to end discriminatory housing practices, has been an essential safeguard for Latino families who would otherwise have been denied equal access to housing. Yet housing discrimination persists at alarming rates—more than three million cases every year. NCLR research shows that even in communities with a longstanding Latino presence, such as San Antonio, housing discrimination is still an issue that Latinos face on a regular basis.

Having just gone through a housing crisis that wiped away generations of wealth from communities of color who were disproportionately targeted with predatory lending practices, it is clear the Fair Housing Act is needed now more than ever. However, a challenge in the Supreme Court could irrevocably alter this essential legislation for the worse. Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that will determine whether the use of disparate impact within the Fair Housing Act can continue to protect against discriminatory housing policies.

Family in front of houseAs it stands, disparate impact prohibits housing policies that result in discrimination, regardless of intention. For example, when a community passes a local ordinance outlawing families larger than four people to sign a rental lease, the result is an unintentional limitation on rental options for large families—families who may be living with multiple generations under one roof or have relatives visiting from their home countries for extended periods of time. These types of policies, which enable racial exclusion to persist, are kept at bay by provisions of the Fair Housing Act.

If our nation is to live up to its highest principles of fairness, justice, and opportunity, then the Supreme Court cannot chip away at the critical protections offered under the Fair Housing Act. If we allow these discriminatory policies to persist, we will forever have a nation in which people who make the same incomes, have the same financial profiles, and have the same credit scores, will not achieve the same results—simply because housing service providers can employ separate but unequal systems that perpetuate discrimination. Discrimination, even if it is unintentional, must be eradicated in order to foster more diverse and inclusive communities that empower Americans to seek out opportunity and fulfill the American Dream.

Latinos, the Majority of Small Business Employees, Have Limited Access to Retirement Savings

By Ana Pupo, Public Policy Fellow, NCLR

Photo: http://401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons

Photo: http://401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons

Aside from Social Security, the most common way for the majority of Americans to save for retirement is through workplace payroll deductions into retirement plans. In fact, our country promotes saving for retirement with tax incentives that will amount to approximately $2 trillion over the next ten years. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of Latino workers won’t benefit from these generous tax incentives because they work for smaller companies that cannot afford to offer any type of retirement savings plan for their workers.

Overall, Latinos are far less likely to have dedicated retirement savings than Whites—almost 70 percent of Latinos do not have retirement accounts compared to less than 40 percent of White households. And while it’s essential that everybody save for retirement, it’s particularly prudent for Latinos to have their savings in order because they not only have longer life expectancies than their peers, but they also are a younger, rapidly growing segment of the American population. Without the necessary investments into retirement plans, Latinos will likely be forced to stretch every dollar of their retirement savings to ensure that those funds last longer than they might have expected.

One complicating factor is that Latino workers are over-represented in small businesses that have fewer than 50 employees. Figure 1 demonstrates this “bottom-heavy” distribution.

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Figure 1

Small employers operate with low profit margins and are often unable to offer benefits such as retirement plans. For instance, as of 2011, employers with fewer than 10 employees only sponsored retirement plans about 13 percent of the time, while firms with 10–49 employees did slightly better at 29 percent. In comparison, large businesses with over 1,000 employees offered these plans more than 65 percent of the time, and public sector employers did so over 79 percent of the time.

Economic downturns also force many small businesses to reduce employer contributions to savings or drop retirement plans altogether. It is no surprise, then, that recent trends show Hispanics have actually become less prepared for retirement over the past few years. Between 2002 and 2006, the share of Hispanics who participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in the private sector declined by an average annual rate of 0.9 percent.

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Today, public policy discussions center on the economic pressures of the baby boomer generation. But given the demographic shift going on in this county, attainable retirement options for Latinos and other communities of color must also be addressed as lawmakers work to better secure the future of the nation’s aging population. What works for the next generation of retirees may not be a long-term solution to prevent future retirees, including far too many Latino workers, from being in a vulnerable position as they leave the workforce.

What Latinas Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

By Marcela Vargas, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

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January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. It is particularly important to us here at NCLR because of the impact it has on the Latina community. In 2011, Latina women had the highest rate of cervical cancer out of all racial and ethnic groups. In the same year, Latinas had the second-highest death rate due to cervical cancer out of the same groups. The sad reality about these rates is that they could very easily decrease if we took more time to worry about preventive health. With that in mind, here are three things you should know about cervical cancer:

  1. All women can get cervical cancer. While all women are at risk for cervical cancer, certain factors can increase the chances of getting the disease. Having HIV or a condition that weakens the immune system puts you at higher risk for getting cervical cancer. In addition, smoking or having used birth control pills for at least five years also increase the risk. Lastly, women who have given birth to three or more children are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
  2. Cervical cancer does not always cause symptoms. Many times, we do not think to go to the doctor until we are not feeling well. In the case of cervical cancer, we cannot take this risk. It often does not cause any symptoms. In the rare cases that it does, symptoms do not occur until the disease is in its advanced stages.
  3. There are ways to prevent cervical cancer. There are several ways to protect yourself. Regular Pap tests help catch cervical cancer when treatment is still simple. It is also important to follow up with your health care provider if your Pap test results come back abnormal. Using condoms during sexual activity and not smoking will also help protect you from cervical cancer.

The good news about all of this is that there are resources for women to get themselves screened. In 2015, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Pap tests are covered by insurance companies at no cost to you. If you still do not have insurance, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to cervical cancer screening services.

A 21st-Century Economy Cannot Afford to Be “English-Only”

By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy and Communications Strategist, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR

FMLA_LatinoFamily_2015Whether or not a consumer speaks the English language should not make her rights any less defensible when they are violated. Consumers with limited English proficiency (LEP) represent a substantial portion of the nation’s growing economy. Unfortunately, multilingual offerings in the U.S. financial industry are grossly deficient. Latinos currently represent 16.7 percent of the U.S. population with a purchasing power estimated to reach $1.5 trillion by 2015. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, by 2015, one in three newborns will be Latino. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now represent the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the U.S. Many of these consumers do not operate primarily in the English language, and the 21st-century economy must adapt.

The U.S. financial market is all but an English-only industry. This presents immense obstacles for LEP families and the system needs to be modernized. Companies often market in Spanish and target Latinos, for example, but they do not offer subsequent services in Spanish once they’ve captured the business they sought or when a customer runs into trouble.

Federal agencies can lead the way in updating industry offerings to better communicate with consumers in their preferred languages. For example, the Federal Housing Finance Agency could create a new field on mortgage origination forms where homebuyers can indicate their language preference. This document then follows the borrower throughout the life of the loan and should inform servicers of the language in which a borrower should be communicated.

CFPB_LogoThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) can also play a critical role in responding to LEP needs. The Bureau has already excelled in transforming the fine print to benefit the everyday consumer. Examples include new regulations to mandate that credit card companies put repayment information into plain language and requirements that remittance companies clearly indicate fees when a consumer sends money back to family members in his or her country of origin.

The CFPB must now move to the next level by fully integrating LEP consumer needs into new regulations. Earlier this January, NCLR submitted with its partners formal public comment that included recommendations to improve the way the CFPB serves LEP consumers. With these revised practices, the CFPB is establishing itself as the gold standard among federal agencies’ approach to LEP consumers.

Looking ahead, we encourage the CFPB to go even further by developing additional provisions for how the financial services sector interacts with LEP consumers. We know that that Spanish-speakers are disproportionately concentrated among those without bank accounts and they are subject to relying on fringe or high cost products because providers appeal to borrowers in Spanish. A modern financial industry must become multilingual to create a healthy economy that works for all.

The CFPB was created to ensure all consumers have access to fair and reasonable financial products, and we are encouraged by this focus on the needs of LEP borrowers—borrowers who are often the most vulnerable.

Weekly Washington Outlook — January 20, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Tuesday, the House will meet at meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess no later than 5:30 p.m. to allow a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President’s State of the Union address. The House will meet again at approximately 8:35 p.m. for the purpose of receiving, in a joint session with the Senate, the President of the United States. Members are requested to be on the Floor and seated no later than 8:25 p.m.  No votes are expected.

On Wednesday the House will vote on legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • Res. ___ – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that resulted in the deaths of seventeen innocent persons and offering condolences to those personally affected by this cowardly act (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe / Foreign Affairs Committee)

The House will also vote on H.R. 161 – Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo / Energy and Commerce Committee)

On Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 36 – Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks / Judiciary Committee)

Senate:

The Senate this week will resume consideration of a bill to require the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline (S.1).  Senators on Tuesday will also gather and proceed to the Hall of the House of Representatives for the President’s State of the Union address.

White House:

On Tuesday, the president will deliver his State of the Union Address at 9:00PM EST.  The vice president, the first lady, and Dr. Biden will attend.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Boise State University in Boise, Idaho to deliver remarks and discuss the themes he will lay out in his State of the Union address. In the evening, the President will travel to Lawrence, Kan.

On Thursday, the president will deliver remarks at the University of Kansas and discuss the themes from his State of the Union address.

On Friday, President Obama will deliver remarks and host a reception of the nation’s mayors at the White House. The mayors will spend the day at the White House interacting with cabinet members and senior White House officials to expand the partnerships between cities and the federal government.

Also this Week:

Appropriations – The House last week passed a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September 30. Members also included several amendments that would block implementation and de-fund President Obama’s actions on immigration. Next, the bill will move to the Senate for consideration early in February. The Department is only funded until February 27, but the president has already threatened to veto any appropriations bill including language undoing DAPA and/or DACA.

Immigration – The House Homeland Security Committee will mark-up a border security bill Wednesday afternoon. The legislation sponsored by Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish “operational control” of the entire Southern border by blocking all unlawful entries in five years. High-traffic areas must be completely secured within two years. If DHS fails to meet these benchmarks, political appointees would be prohibited from travelling on a government aircraft, non-essential training, and receiving any bonuses.

Education – The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the testing and accountability systems enacted by No Child Left Behind. The hearing is the first of several expected leading up to a re-authorization of the 2001 law. Elsewhere, President Obama will discuss further his proposal for universal community college in Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Tax – Over the weekend, the White House released a tax plan expected to be a central component to President Obama’s State of the Union. The proposal would close the trust fund loophole, raise capital gains and dividend rates and charge a fee to certain financial transactions. The revenue from these actions would pay for a new $500 credit for two-earner households, an increase in the child care tax credit, reforms to the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and a savers credit to make saving for retirement more accessible. In addition to these, the president has called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers and making the 2009 expansions of the EITC and the Child Tax Credit permanent.

Internet Access – The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee have both scheduled hearings on Wednesday on net neutrality. The hearings will address legislation designed to prevent service providers from creating two tiers of Internet traffic.

Labor – President Obama is expected to highlight several labor-related issues in tonight’s State of the Union. As has already been announced, he will call for an expansion of paid sick leave. He recently signed an executive order for federal workers and will call on the private sector to follow his lead. The speech may also highlight the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rules which are expected to raise the minimum salary threshold under which workers must receive time and a half for extra hours worked. News accounts have also reported he will highlight legislation requiring workers to receive their schedules two-weeks in advance and a minimum of four hours of compensation if their hours are reduced. Finally, it is expected that the president may mention apprentice programs as a form of job training.

Small Steps to Revive the American Dream of Homeownership

Family in front of housePresident Obama recently gave a speech in Arizona announcing a reduction in mortgage insurance premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This much-needed policy change will save homeowners with FHA loans an average of $900 a year on their mortgage payments while making the dream of homeownership more affordable and easier to reach for many Americans, including Latinos.

Unfortunately, the key message and potential benefits to hard-working Americans were lost following the announcement. Conservative policymakers were quick to invoke a deeply entrenched false narrative that attributes the collapse of the housing market to unqualified borrowers. For example, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R–Texas) released a statement calling the reduction in FHA premiums disappointing and warned against “the destructive cycle of boom, busts, and bailouts that poor decisions in Washington produce.

Regrettably, comments like this from Hensarling and others distract from the large body of evidence confirming that the foreclosure crisis was a result of unscrupulous lenders steering minority borrowers into costly subprime loans. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, studies by economists at the Federal Reserve, and a number of other independent investigations have all shown that the housing crisis stemmed from private-sector lenders chasing profits by producing large volumes of unsustainable loans without regard for borrowers. The Department of Justice reached historic settlements with large lenders charged with steering Black and Hispanic borrowers into predatory subprime products, even when these borrowers qualified for safer conventional mortgages. Additionally, a recent study by a private consulting firm refutes the idea that mortgage credit was easily attainable leading up to the housing market’s collapse. Using 10 years of mortgage originations, the study finds denial rates were actually higher before the crisis than they are in today’s tight credit market. Yet, just as banks and other financial institutions received taxpayer bailouts, they responded by restricting access to affordable mortgage credit to only the most pristine borrowers.

This restrictive environment is where we find ourselves today. Access to affordable mortgage credit continues to be a real barrier to homeownership, especially for qualified Latinos and other underserved markets. The reduction in mortgage insurance premiums from the FHA is expected to provide some relief to put many qualified Americans on the path to homeownership and better financial prospects. We hope that in the future, policymakers stop blaming victims of the foreclosure crisis and we encourage the Obama administration to continue doing more to put the dream of homeownership back within reach of Latino families.