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Monday, March 17, 2008

Confronting the Housing meltdown & Calling for Action against the Governor’s DNA bill

Guy Djoken

On July 11 the NAACP filed a Federal class action lawsuit against fourteen of the country's largest sub prime mortgage lenders. The lawsuit is designed to bring about equitable lending practices that do not adversely affect borrowers based on their race. In a 2006 study, the Center for Responsible Lending found that when creditworthiness and credit risk were equal, African-Americans were still 31 percent to 34 percent more likely to receive higher rates and more expensive sub prime loans than Caucasians.

After months of hard work by the NAACP's legal team, the NAACP has generated serious momentum in the class action lawsuit against the biggest offenders.

Last week, the Los Angeles Federal Court fast tracked the lawsuit against the 18 mortgage firms that have disproportionately targeted minority homeowners for predatory loans. This victory could not have come soon enough for homeowners who are facing an unstable economy and a declining mortgage market.

While there are currently efforts underway by the government and the mortgage industry to reduce the impact of these sub prime loans, none of the remedies go far enough to protect minority homeowners who bear an unfair share of the financial burden. The NAACP legal team's victory in expediting the lawsuit brings us one step closer to justice for minority homeowners who are trapped by the unfair distribution of sub prime loans.

At the state level, the Frederick County Branch of the NAACP is joining the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP to express their strong objection and vehement opposition to the Governor's DNA bill:

The FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION of the bill is that is the warrant less seizure of DNA from innocent persons. Governor O'Malley recent proposed amendments DO NOT ADDRESS THE FUNDAMENTAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION of stockpiling the DNA of primarily the African American and Latino communities in a permanent database that will forever brand these communities as criminal suspects.

The most important changes to the bill requested by the Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP and other civil rights organizations were rejected. Expansion of sample collection to all those arrested for a felony will further exacerbate the racial bias of the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice reports that nonwhite are arrested at nearly three times the rate of whites. The house is scheduled to vote on the bill as amended by the House Judiciary in room 145 House Office Building at 4:15pm today, MONDAY 3/17. We are urging people to gather outside room 145 to call on the Legislative Black Caucus to continue to oppose the bill.

Guy Djoken is President, Frederick County, Maryland Branch NAACP

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