by Denise Rolark Barnes

(NNPA)—Faith leaders from across the country held an emergency summit in Washington, D.C., to organize a strategy to urge congressional lawmakers to pass a bill immediately that will strengthen and further protect homeowners from predatory lending practices.

FAITH LEADERSHIP SUMMIT—Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the RainbowPUSH Coalition, left, and Bishop Joseph N. Williams, pastor and founder of Christ Church International, right, listen as John Taylor, president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, talks about how the NCRC can assist churches during the Emergency Faith Leadership Summit. (Photo by Roy Lewis)

The new bill in Congress —the American Community Investment Reform Act (HR-6344)—will extend the current laws to those lending institutions that helped to create the current housing crisis that contributed to thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure.

“This is the most critical civil rights issue of our time,” Rev. Jesse L. Jackson told a group of 50 ministers, faith leaders, and representatives from non-profits who gathered at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., to address the matter. Jackson was on hand to help galvanize a movement to help pass the bill that will expand the Community Reinvestment Act.

Since 1977, CRA has encouraged more banks and savings and loans to establish branches in underserved communities and it has helped to reduce credit practices that discriminate against low and moderate-income neighborhoods. The law, however, did not include independent housing lenders, such as Countrywide, whose predatory practices targeted African-Americans and Latinos.

Jackson’s RainbowPUSH Coalition has partnered with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition to push for passage of the new bill that will not only strengthen CRA, but it will also create jobs and capital in areas where the economic crisis has hit the hardest.

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