Portman should vote to confirm Cordray
by Jim McCarthy and Deborah Goldberg
December 7, 2011 — More than 2.7 million Americans who received mortgage loans between 2004 and 2008 have lost their homes to foreclosure. In Dayton, more than 5,700 residents who got mortgages during that period have lost their homes, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
More than 6,700 Dayton families are past 60 days late on their payments and are at serious risk of foreclosure.
Our nation and this state face problems in the current housing market because of a failure of the banking regulators to prevent banks from offering risky loans that were doomed from the start. So far, many Senate Republicans have sided with Big Banks instead of consumers.
Earlier this year, 44 Republican senators signed a letter stating they would not confirm any nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), unless changes are made to the agency to weaken its authority and handicap its ability to adequately protect consumers.
However, in recent weeks, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., announced his support for the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to become the CFPB’s permanent director. We urge Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman to join Brown and support Cordray’s nomination as well.
Ohioans from both parties want a tough traffic cop on Wall Street. With Cordray at the helm, the CFPB will have the ability to police the practices of major banks and non-bank financial institutions that caused the mortgage crisis that plunged the nation into recession.
Portman has another chance to show he is for everyday Ohioans. As early as this week, there may be a floor vote in the Senate on the Cordray nomination.
The stakes are high. While Americans from every background have already lost their homes, millions more are still paying their mortgages, but have seen their home values plummet. The Federal Reserve estimates that, since 2005, declining home values have cost homeowners $7 trillion in lost wealth that they could have used to weather the economic turmoil, send their kids to college, start or expand a small business, fund retirement, or pass along to the next generation.
This crisis has hit hardest at communities of color, especially African-Americans and Latinos, who were targeted for toxic sub-prime loans. As a result of foreclosures, African-American and Latino communities have lost more than $370 billion in wealth, making it more difficult for them to achieve economic stability and prosperity. In Dayton, of homeowners who received mortgages between 2004 and 2008, African-Americans are more than twice as likely as white residents to have lost their homes to foreclosure, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
Congress created the CFPB last year to bring order, transparency and fairness to the financial services industry. It’s time for the CFPB to get to work.
The CFPB’s mission is more urgent than ever: Making sure borrowers have the necessary information to shop for mortgages that best fit their needs, that there are no traps hidden in fine print, and that mortgage companies treat borrowers fairly if they hit hard times. Filling a crucial need for minorities, the agency will ensure all borrowers can get the best loan for which they qualify, regardless of their skin color or national origin.
The CFPB officially opened its doors on July 21, and its staff is hard at work. But, without a director, the agency has not been able to exercise its full authority.
Consumers can’t afford to wait any longer for the CFPB. Sen. Portman, it’s time to confirm Richard Cordray.
Jim McCarthy is President/CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center. Deborah Goldberg is the special projects director of the National Fair Housing Alliance. This op-ed ran in the Dayton Daily News on December 7, 2011.