California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters is calling on President Barack Obama to use his speech before the joint session of Congress Thursday night to offer “bold” solutions on the jobs crisis and foreclosures. Waters says the president should call bankers into his office and demand they modify mortgages to “keep people in their homes.”
The incumbent Congresswoman, who has served as a representative of her Southern California district in Congress since 1991, has been a leading voice in the foreclosure crisis. Waters called for a foreclosure moratorium after the robo-signing scandal came to light and has lobbied for aid to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure for years.
“As the President speaks to the nation about his plan to create jobs, he must acknowledge the economic disaster in the African American community, whose unemployment rate hovers at roughly 16.7%, almost double that of the general population and equal to depression-era levels,” Waters said in a statement issued Thursday morning. “He must then articulate how the plan he puts forth will target the communities with the highest rates of unemployment, including the African American community.
“We must target resources to the most needy urban and rural communities in ways that make sense. It is time for us all to acknowledge that a rising tide does not lift all boats.”
There are precedents for targeting communities disproportionately impacted by economic crisis, including a Great Depression era act started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Tennessee Valley in 1933.
The foreclosure crisis has impacted blacks and other minorities at higher levels than many so-called white neighborhoods as home values have eroded more quickly in some densely populated minority neighborhoods, including areas of hard hit Cleveland, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland. Some areas have seen whole blocks bordered up by workers to protect homes from vandalism and damages.
“Today, we can see a similar, disproportionate impact on urban communities during this recession, as evidenced by high unemployment levels in the black, Latino, urban and low-income communities,” said Waters. “Just as Roosevelt recognized the need in rural areas then, the president must recognize the need in urban communities now.”