Monday, February 23, 2009

Grading the Administration 5

Weekly Poverty Grades for the Obama Administration: B-

Another slight improvement over last week with regard to the struggle to reduce poverty. The Obama administration released their long awaited plan to end the foreclosure crisis. I would have preferred a national mandatory moratorium (and that may still be coming), but if Mark Siefert at ESOP says that it is a good start then I am on Board. I really liked Jim Rokakis' statement on WCPN that it is too late for Cleveland, but this is a step forward. I think that it is long overdue to allow bankruptcy judges to alter the mortgage terms in bankruptcy. This will help many people. In addition, HUD released the 2008 shelter dollars, which I did not expect for a month or so. This is about the same time that Bush released the 2007 funds last year. Despite the federal budget under a continuing resolution and the new HUD director only approved two weeks ago, they released the housing and shelter dollars from last year. This is helpful to the organizations like CTO who had their grant expire January 31, 2009. They now have to work out a contract with the federal government and should be able to start receiving reimbursements for their Bridging the Gap program in June or July.

There is still a ton of work to do, but hopefully we can finally stem the tide of foreclosures. In the 1990s we only had around 3,000 foreclosures in Cuyahoga County. We now have over 14,000 every year. This is insane and has left a deep scar on the community. The question for us can we recover from this wound largely inflicted by a lack of government oversight and greedy and criminal mortgage brokers or was this a terminal wound?

The Obama administration could have issued more sticks and fewer carrots and I would have given them an "A." As Mark said to the Plain Dealer it more than we thought that we could get. In reflecting on the Stimulus bill from the previous week, I have to hope that with such huge sums of money that my grandkids will be paying for, these funds will be used in the same way as the Marshall Plan, or the creation of the highway system, and the federal dollars in the 1960s to win the space race. I am glad to hear the administration is focusing on the creation of new jobs this week while comparing this to the last major allocation of federal dollars for war in Iraq that had little benefits for American or Iraqii citizens.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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