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Experts warn that Black homeownership is endangered as primary wealth building tool

"Institutional denial of access to mortgage credit is the single-most detrimental factor obstructing wealth building among Black Americans," says Ron Cooper, president of NAREB, the nation's real estate trade group dedicated to increasing home ownership for Black Americans and ensuring they receive fair and equal treatment throughout the home buying process.

WASHINGTON–Annual Legislative Conference cautioned that mortgage lending disparities coupled with public policies and inactions by governmental institutions conspire to impede the growth of Black homeownership.  the State

Ron Cooper, President National Association of Real Estate Broker
Ron Cooper, President National Association of Real Estate Broker

of Housing in Black America (SHIBA), the 2016 homeownership rate for Blacks was 41.7%, lower than the national homeownership rate during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. By contrast, the 2016 homeownership rate for non-Hispanic Whites was 71.5 percent.Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) both remarked that the targeting of minority communities, loss of equity, loss of the pathway to wealth accumulation in the Black community is why homeownership needs to increase.

“The continued institutional denial of equal access to mortgage credit is the single-most detrimental factor obstructing wealth building among Black Americans. NAREB is issuing a clarion call to lawmakers, regulators, government agencies, and lenders that a change must and will come. No longer will Black Americans be locked out,” said Ron Cooper, President of NAREB formed in 1947 to ensure equal and fair access by Blacks to own homes and opportunity for Black real estate professionals.

Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), in his Issues Forum remarks, he  said that homeownership is the most important investment in the Black community and further stated that the data contained in NAREB’s report revealed that mortgage originations among Black borrowers continue to decline well after the financial crisis.  He added, “While I agree that we do not want to return to the excesses and abuses of the past, we must still find a way toward responsible lending for creditworthy borrowers, including those borrowers of modest means. Policies must be set in place to ensure affordability and increase access to mortgage credit, and there’s an essential role the government must and should play in that process.”

NAREB’s CBCF Issues Forum panelists echoed the mantra that Blacks are victims of a separate and unequal financial system that does not adequately evaluate or reflect a borrower’s real ability to pay. Current credit models are outdated and do not look discrimination in the face.  Expert panelists included: James H. Carr, co-author of the SHIBA Report, Professor of Urban Affairs, Wayne State University and Coleman A. Young Endowed Chair; Nikitra Bailey, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Center for Responsible Lending; Larry Parks, Senior Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; Maurice Jourdain-Earl, Managing Director, ComplianceTech; Lisa Rice, Vice President, National Fair Housing Alliance, and Mark Alston, Chair of NAREB’s Public Affairs Committee. Panelists universally agreed that lenders continue to use these instruments that work to deny Black borrowers a mortgage loan when other credible models exist, but are not widely used by lending institutions.

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Fitch Releases Preliminary Analysis of Pension Reform Plan

According to Mayor Sylvester Turner’s communication staff Janice Evans released that in the first analysis of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s pension reforms by a financial market expert, Fitch Ratings writes the proposal “includes reforms to benefits and contribution practices that could improve the sustainability of the city’s pensions.”  Fitch also comments on the plan’s use of Pension Obligation Bonds, noting this is not deficit financing because the POBs will replace an existing liability rather than as a substitute for the City’s required annual pension contributions.

“This early validation from a global leader in credit ratings and research is encouraging and a sign we are on the right track,” said Mayor Turner.  “The plan we have put forth is the only plan that provides both immediate and long-term financial benefits and takes the pension issue off the table for good.”

The proposal the mayor will present to state lawmakers for consideration in the upcoming 2017 legislative session will immediately reduce and later eliminate the City’s $7.7 billion unfunded pension liability and costs considerably less next year and every year after when compared to what the City would need to pay in the absence of reform. The plan includes:

  • Benefits changes that immediately reduce the unfunded liability by $2.6 billion while still maintaining defined benefit plans for City employees
  • A closed 30-year payoff period
  • $1 billion in POBs
  • A more realistic rate of return of 7% for future investments
  • A requirement that the city makes the full required annual contributions to the pension systems
  • Limits on annual costs going forward and mandatory negotiations on benefits changes to bring costs back in line if they exceed the specified limits

According to Fitch’s analysis released Friday, “use of POBs alone typically is insufficient to correct underlying sustainability concerns and provides only temporary relief in the absence of broader reforms. However, POB use in conjunction with reforms to benefits and contribution practices increases the odds of strengthening funding positions and improving long-term sustainability.”

Fitch and other credit rating agencies have previously cited Houston’s pension liabilities and voter-imposed revenue cap as credit concerns.  Once the City’s pension problems are fixed, Mayor Turner has said that he will ask voters to repeal the revenue cap. 

Mayor Turner intends to ask City Council to approve his plan within the next few weeks.  Bill filing begins in Austin in mid-November.

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TX House Representative Dist.139­ Jarvis Johnson to Confer Community Awards & Speak on Mental Health ­ Saturday, October 8th

TX State Representative Jarvis Johnson candidly speaks saying, “Mental and emotional well­being is an important aspect of everyday living. We need to remove the stigma associated with mental health so intervention can occur at the onset.” The fast and frantic pace of society, sickness, death, unemployment, disability, divorce, break­ups, all has an impact on mental health. Yet, many African Americans find that mental health and mental illness are tough topics to discuss.

The Gulf Coast of Texas African American Family Support Conference will get the conversation started with the theme “Unveiling Masks: Real Conversations to Shatter Stigma, and Myths” on Saturday, October 8, 2016, 9:00 am to 2:30 pm at the United Way of Greater of Houston, 50 Waugh Drive Houston, Texas 77007.

The conference is coordinated by dedicated community stakeholders, one community leader stated, “Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable as well as recovery is possible. Another community leader, shared, Good mental health strengthens your ability to cope with everyday hassles and more serious crises and challenges.” Shalone Turner, 2015 conference attendee stated, “If it could be okay in society to talk about mental health, things could be different…” Shalone Turner The mission of GCTAAFSC is to strengthen the knowledge and skills of individuals with mental health, developmental disabilities, families, community members and professionals about available health care services by using culturally sensitive education supports and partnerships.

Conference Day:

The conference day will commence with an open plenary address by Dr. Shirley Price, followed by breakout sessions and will culminate at an Award’s Luncheon with Zina Garrison, former World Tennis, and Olympic Gold Medalist keynote address. Rep. Johnson will confer and extend the Flame of Inspiration Award to Destiny Richardson and Jerome Green. The conference will offer an informative exhibition area, free flu shot clinic sponsored by Walgreens Pharmacy, 12 workshop sessions on mental health, disability awareness and the conference will focus on individuals, families and the community with an emphasis on youth only sessions for ages 15­-24.

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Bland family settles civil suit for $2 million

After the Sandra Bland family settled a wrongful death civil lawsuit,  for two million dollars, State Rep. Garnett Colman said, “I will file the Sandra Bland Act this upcoming session. The Sandra Bland Act will include her family’s wishes and recommendations that have been discussed at the House Committee on County Affairs’ oversight hearings that have risen out of the Sandra Bland case.

Additionally, Sandra Bland’s family’s Texas-based attorney Tom Rhodes will be speaking at the upcoming County Affairs hearing on September 20th, 2016.

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Furr High Schools selected as super school in Houston

XQ: The Super School Project Announces Furr Institute for Innovative Thinking as One of 10 Winning Super Schools Out of Nearly 700 Proposals 
HOUSTON – Today, after a rigorous 11-month application and evaluation process, XQ Institute has announced winning Super Schools, including Houston-based team Furr Institute for Innovative Thinking (FIIT). Each school will be awarded $10 million over the next 5 years. All 10 schools will serve as catalysts for change, making high school more relevant, engaging and effective for every student, everywhere. 
“The Super School Project was born out of the conviction and commitment that every child from every background has a right to a quality education that prepares them for a future none of us can easily predict,” said Russlynn Ali, Chief Executive Officer of XQ Institute. “We are proud to partner with each of these 10 amazing teams who represent the power of communities coming together to restore the goals and excellence that the founders of our public schools envisioned.”
Furr Institute for Innovative Thinking is focused on relevant learning that addresses issues of social justice that impact students’ lives while empowering them to have a positive impact on their local community, and beyond. 
“We are so thankful and honored by this generous award,” said FIIT Principal and Team Lead Dr. Bertie Simmons. “Here at Furr, we have always been focused on creating greater opportunity for our students. Now, our whole community has come together to push ourselves further and co-create a new model for high school with our students at the helm. We are so excited for the coming year and to build a school that encourages and challenges our students to take ownership of their learning and empowers them to develop local solutions that lift their community and allow them to thrive and succeed.”


Furr has made significant progress in the past 15 years. Once plagued by violence, and seen as a “drop-out” factory by many, Furr has gone from a 57% graduation rate to 95% in 2015. Now, FIIT is taking the next step to ensure students not only graduate from high school but are deeply prepared to succeed in today’s world. FIIT will use highly localized learning—with the environmental issues that affect the local community as a frame—to connect students to their learning on a very personal level. Through this frame, FIIT seeks to engage students to learn core academic subjects by exploring their passions and empowering them to act as changemakers to solve problems affecting their community. A profile of the team can be found on the XQ website.
“Being involved in this process, not just as a student, but as a leader, has shown me that my voice matters,” said Furr High School Senior Jordan Davis. “I’m excited for this year and the chance we now have to actually build this school that we dreamed together—a school that not only excites students, but empowers us to take a stand for ourselves and our community.”
XQ: The Super School Project was born from a commitment made by Emerson Collective in July 2014 to find and develop the best designs for next generation high schools as part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Launched in September 2015, XQ: The Super School Project was an open call to America to meet the challenge of preparing our students for today’s world by dreaming, designing, and creating the next American high school. 
From its beginning, XQ: The Super School Project has asked communities to self-assemble, engage young people and offer ideas on how to create models that challenge students as critical thinkers to take on real world problems and have a positive impact on the world. 
In the coming months, the 10 teams, selected from nearly 700 submitted proposals, will begin building and implementing their Super School Designs.
For additional information about XQ: The Super School Project, or the selected Super School designs, contact Kacey Bonner at or 310-402-3013.


About XQ: The Super School Project:
XQ: The Super School Project launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink and design the next American high school. Thousands of School Builders, and tens of thousands of supporters from towns and cities across all 50 states have united to take on this important work. Teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st century learning.
Since its launch, XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high schools. It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas, and expert resources to create new pathways to success for students. For more information, visit, and follow us at @XQAmerica.
About XQ Institute:
XQ Institute is an organization dedicated to rethinking school in America in order to create new learning opportunities for young people and open up the possibilities of the wider world. The Institute’s board of directors is chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, Chair of the Emerson Collective. The CEO and founder is Russlynn Ali, former Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and Managing Director of Education at the Emerson Collective. For more information, visit