Warm greetings to our Grounded Solutions Network members, followers and stakeholders,
My original focus for this message was on introducing our various plans for 2020 and sharing my thoughts within the context of February as Black History Month. However, I’m choosing instead to encourage decisive and immediate action by all our members to prevent the current administration’s misguided efforts to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). It is critical that we challenge the proposed “modernization” of CRA, which would potentially in practice open the door to a repeat of the past injustice of redlining, which CRA was originally intended and designed to prevent. Grounded Solutions is currently an active member of a broad coalition of local, state and national entities led by our partners at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). Please immediately visit the National Community Reinvestment Coalition website today to learn more about this urgent issue and access templates for submitting public comments informing both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) of your individual organization’s objections to the current modernization proposal.
Based firmly on our commitment to racial equity, each of us must be both vigilant and proactively engaged to resist all public policy proposals which fail to increase fair access and expand opportunities for people of color. Racial equity was recently the central theme of a panel I was asked to join at the distinguished historically Black college Howard University in Washington, DC., to examine and address the twin issues of Heirs Property and Black Land Loss. My fellow noted panelist, staff writer for The Atlantic, Vann Newkirk noted that the history of wealth in America is tied to a legal system of property rights, which we all understand today has generally led to targeted African-American exclusion from homeownership, serving to further increase the racial wealth gap. As a new decade begins, the next 10 years will be particularly significant as we strive to expand the capacity of our shared equity housing sector. While the hard work, commitment and success of our member organizations benefit approximately 255,000 families today, we must also realize the existing small limited number shared equity technical experts is a significant constraint on increasing the scale of our impact on reducing the racial wealth gap.
Grounded Solutions Network CEO Tony Pickett addresses the audience during "‘The Biggest Problem You’ve Never Heard Of’: Examining Heirs Property and Black Property Loss" panel at Howard University School of Business, January 29th, 2020.
Even as our Grounded Solutions membership spans a variety of affordable housing program types, including community land trusts, limited equity cooperatives, Habitat for Humanity affiliates and deed-restricted housing portfolios often as part of inclusionary zoning programs, we must all strive to do more. The context for our collective effort in the coming years includes navigating many complex systemic challenges, based on flawed public policies, with both open hostility and determined opposition to our collective values for equity and inclusion. In overcoming these obstacles, we must seek to increase the use of shared equity models supported by new policies, as simultaneously our nation struggles to eliminate the active racism. The same barrier of racism still limiting not only housing options, but also education and economic opportunities for millions of households.
Grounded Solutions will continue to build the technical capacity and collective power of our members and that of the communities we all serve – to significantly multiply the impact of our proven models and outcomes over the next decade. In support of this ambitious goal, we will continue to expand our membership, pursue new dedicated resources and recruit additional active partners who match our sense of urgency to assist some portion of the estimated 18 million families currently paying more than 50% of their income toward housing. Today, Grounded Solutions Network has an increasingly valued brand, we are nationally recognized as inclusive policy and shared equity housing program experts. A recent policy win in the City of Minneapolis illustrates our success, with the City Council unanimously adopting a mandatory inclusionary housing policy based on our professional technical assistance consulting services. I look forward to gathering and celebrating this clear victory at our Intersections 2020 conference in Minneapolis during September. This year our theme “Invest in Inclusion” is planned to fully engage all who share our vision for greater scale - investing financial, human and knowledge capital to fundamentally transform the housing landscape, using a racial equity lens to yield more inclusive communities across the nation.
Despite many significant obstacles and increasing challenges ahead, our sector will maintain an unwavering commitment to growth, including advocacy efforts to shift both our local and national policy priorities toward community-driven development programs for the creation of intentional and most importantly, measurable, outcomes for the families we serve.
I look forward to sharing the journey ahead with much appreciation for your continuing support