Record & Issues
NSP funds in LA City and County
California has been among the states that have suffered most from the foreclosure crisis and the decline in the housing market.
As the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, I wrote the legislation that created the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), and I have continued to advocate for NSP funding for communities throughout the U.S. to recover from foreclosures and neighborhood decline.
NSP funds are very important to neighborhoods in the 35th District and the surrounding area.
Most recently, in September, Los Angeles received $20 million in NSP funding as grants of almost $10 million were awarded to both the City and County of Los Angeles to be used for buying, fixing up and reselling foreclosed homes in hard-hit neighborhoods.
Under previous rounds of funding, the City and County of Los Angeles received a combined $210 million, and the State of California received $145 million.
I am proud to have helped many families and neighborhoods in Southern California who are benefiting from NSP, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for homeowners, prospective homebuyers and on all housing issues.
LAX is one of the busiest airports in the nation, helping move passengers and goods across the country and around the world. This creates great economic benefits to the 35th District, but many families, businesses and schools in neighboring communities can be adversely impacted by noise, pollution, traffic and other problems associated with LAX.
I have worked closely with neighborhood groups concerned about conditions at LAX including proposals to expand the airport and move runways. I have also written legislation to provide funding for noise mitigation for those who live and work in the 35th District and are affected by noise from planes landing and taking off at LAX.
In addition, I have worked with airport officials to help ensure that LAX is safe for passengers, workers, visitors and nearby residents.
T-Mobile Cell Tower
Earlier this year, a family in Westchester contacted my office to inform me that T-Mobile was planning to build a cell tower right outside their home. The family had already organized many of their neighbors in opposition to the proposed tower and was seeking my assistance. I admired their determination and their persistence and was happy to take up their cause. I am proud to have worked on their behalf and to have succeeded in persuading T-Mobile to abandon its plans to put up a cell tower in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection
As it became clear that the nation’s economy was falling into recession – with significant consequences for American homeowners, workers, and families – Democrats in Congress began writing legislation to respond to the crisis. The objective was two-fold: protect consumers, and hold the actors who drove the economy into a ditch accountable.
As a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, I played a major role in shaping legislation that would become the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. And as a key member of the House-Senate conference committee tasked with finalizing the legislation, I inserted and defended provisions to protect and empower my constituents and the American people.
The final legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama included four of my major priorities:
Increasing opportunities for minorities and women:
- I wrote legislation to create the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the federal regulatory agencies such as the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and others. Women and minorities have been historically looked over and underrepresented in the financial services industry, so these Offices would work to ensure the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the workforce and senior management, as well as increase contracting opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses.
- In winding down struggling financial institutions, I wanted to ensure that regulators consider the impact on low-income, minority, and underserved communities. These neighborhoods are not served by many banks, so it is incumbent upon regulators to understand the implications of their closing.
- Predatory lenders targeted minority communities with exotic financial products that helped lead to this economic crisis, so I wrote legislation to make sure that minorities have access to affordable insurance products.
Assisting struggling homeowners and neighborhoods:
- The recession’s most devastating impact was in the housing sector. I wanted to make sure that Americans who had lost their job would not be doubly hurt by losing their home to foreclosure as well. I secured $1 billion – with an additional $1 billion commitment from the Treasury Department – to help unemployed homeowners receive low-interest loans to pay their mortgages.
- Neighborhoods ravaged by foreclosures are often affected by blight and a lack of upkeep, and these factors decrease property values throughout the area. Over two years ago I authored the Neighborhood Stabilization Program – despite opposition from the Bush Administration – to address these issues. NSP helps communities and organizations rehabilitate homes and resell them to low- and middle-income buyers. Under the financial reform bill, I secured an additional $1 billion for NSP.
- Because of an amendment I authored, attorneys offering financial services or product support will be subject to regulation by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Shareholders who serve on the board of corporations deserve more say in key decisions. I introduced an amendment to reform the way corporations deal with proxy access by empowering the Securities and Exchange Commission to review and report on this issue. Recently, the SEC voted to reform the way proxy access works, so that shareholders can nominate more of their own candidates and offer more of their own proposals.
- Shareholders also should have the right to hold those actors accountable who aid and abet corporations in fraud and abuse. Under an agreement with the Senate, I agreed to have the Government Accountability Offices study this issue and author a report detailing the severity of the problem and how we should move forward.
- Some credit rating agencies did not conduct objective assessments of the creditworthiness of financial institutions, helping contribute to the economic crisis. An amendment I wrote would help prevent conflict of interest by separating pay for board members of these agencies from the financial performance of the firms they are tasked with assessing.
Strengthening Consumer Financial Protection:
- To strengthen the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I created a spot for an expert in consumer protection on the Bureau’s Advisory Board.
- Many for-profit lending and education institutions prey upon students with promises of cheap lending and a substantive education. I helped shape legislation to make sure that all loans offered by private institutions are regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
I serve as the Chairwoman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. Increasing the availability, affordability, and safety of public housing is something that is close to my heart: I grew up in public housing in segregated St. Louis, Missouri during the 1940’s and 50’s.
Our nation is facing a massive shortage of housing, and homelessness is increasing. We have seen examples of public policy decisions that have left those in need out in the cold, particularly surrounding one-for-one replacement. In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, many of the destroyed public housing units have still not been rebuilt to meet demand. And very recently, 30,000 residents of East Point, Georgia – about 75 percent of the population – waited for Section 8 housing vouchers. Some people were injured while waiting, as it became clear that demand severely outnumbered supply.
To address shortage and affordability issues, I authored two pieces of legislation that have been passed by the Financial Services Committee and await full passage in the House: The Public Housing Reinvestment and Tenant Protection Act (H.R. 5814) and the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act (H.R. 3045).
As you read in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection (INSERT HYPERLINK) section of this website, I have been working to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure and to help stabilize neighborhoods devastated by foreclosures.
I have also been looking out for first-time homebuyers and for homeowners who unexpectedly face mandates to purchase flood insurance.
When it was announced that the Federal Housing Authority’s reserves had fallen below the two percent level required by law, I authored the FHA Reform Act of 2010 to preserve the FHA’s funds and save taxpayers $2.5 billion over five years. I was pleased that the House passed my legislation, because the FHA remains the premier lending institution to help first-time homebuyers achieve the American dream.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) fall under the jurisdiction of my subcommittee. Flood insurance is an important protection for homeowners who live in floodplains and are at risk of flooding.
I wrote H.R. 5114 to improve NFIP and reauthorize it for five years, because NFIP remains the primary source of reliable, affordable flood insurance coverage for more than five million American homes and businesses. After many delays, which also resulted in my authorship of emergency extension legislation, the House passed this long-term reauthorization.
I have long worked to reduce health disparities for vulnerable populations and increase funding for major diseases like HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
I have repeatedly sought increased funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative, which I created as Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus in the late 1990’s. In FY 2011 I requested $610 million dollars for the Initiative. Some of the latest statistics show that minorities represent 70 percent of all HIV/AIDS diagnoses, so increased funding is imperative to help research, treat and ultimately defeat the disease.
Some of the legislation I have introduced to combat HIV/AIDS includes The Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 2137), The Stop AIDS in Prison Act (H.R. 1429), and H.Res. 592, which encourages doctors and clinicians to do more to raise awareness about the disease and to get tested themselves.
An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, so I have authored legislation to support the Department of Justice Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program, which passed the House and awaits full Senate passage, and I wrote the Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act (H.R. 4123).
Diabetes is a disease that can be deadly, and occurs more frequently in minority populations. Last year I introduced the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act (H.R. 4404) which would provide grants to physicians and community based organizations for diabetes prevention, care, and treatment programs.
When Comcast and NBC Universal announced they were merging, I was concerned about the potential costs for consumers and about the lack of each corporation’s commitment to roles for minorities and women in front of and behind the camera, specifically on issues related to programming, production, and distribution.
I immediately asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates the nation’s airwaves and mergers such as this – to extend their comment period so the public and media and consumer watchdog groups could weigh in with their thoughts on the merger. After I introduced legislation to mandate the extension of the comment period, the FCC extended it by 45 days.
I then began insisting that the FCC hold public hearings on the merger. I was encouraged to be joined by two FCC commissioners about the need for public hearings, and that the FCC agreed to an informal public meeting in Chicago this summer. However, I expect the FCC to begin formal public hearings as soon as possible. The American people deserve to know all aspects and implications of this merger.
I also led and participated in two Congressional field hearings in Los Angeles and Chicago this past summer, to further analyze and understand the scope of this merger. I have heard from writers, directors, producers, distributors and other media and consumer professionals who have expressed grave concerns about this merger and the implications it will have for them and American consumers of television, internet and phone services.
I pledge to stay on top of this issue, and ensure that each corporation is committed to diversity and affordability.
Debt Relief for Poor Countries:
I believe that one of the best ways the United States can help poor countries end extreme poverty and make education, health, and infrastructure investments for their people is by canceling their international debts.
For years I have worked with the Treasury Department, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to cancel the outstanding debts of many of the world’s poor nations, particularly in Latin America and Africa.
When Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in January, one of the ways I sought to help was by authoring the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act (H.R. 4573), which President Obama signed into law in April after both chambers of Congress passed the legislation. The bill cancels hundreds of millions of dollars in debt owed to financial institutions by Haiti, immediately stops any debt payments that were already occurring, and allows Haiti to receive grants for the next five years so that the country does not accumulate more debt.
Last year I introduced The Jubilee Act (H.R. 4405), which would expand debt cancellation to 25 more of the world’s poorest countries.
I have also introduced the Stop VULTURE Funds Act (H.R. 2932), which would prevent private investment and financial firms that buy up outstanding debts of impoverished countries from suing the countries for repayment.