Blacks, Latinos strongest supporters of financial reform

Filed under OPINION

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.

Investment in homes
In general, people of color tend to 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 [D-Calif.] 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.”

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.

What consumers want
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 CFPB 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.

Charlene Crowell is the Communications Manager for State Policy & Outreach with the Center for Responsible Lending.

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