Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hall And Coates (CA-44)


California state Senator Isadore Hall, widely considered the most corrupt politician in Sacramento, must have been feeling his oats when he snagged a cushy deal at the Alameda Court apartments development he helped push through... with a nice subsidy from the City of Compton. Shortly after the initial approval, the developers contributed $10,000 to Hall. Can you spell quid pro quo? Or you thought only Republicans engage in this kind of bribery? Did he get his place rent free while the other tenants were subjected to leases based on the old racist "rent-to-own" program historically foisted upon African-Americans who were red-lined by the banks? The idea is to take the money but find an excuse-- any excuse will do-- to void the agreement and steal the money while evicting the hapless and helpless buyer. In his much discussed Reparations piece for The Atlantic last week, Ta-Nehisi Coates went into this ugly practice in some depth. "From the 1930s through the 1960s," he reminds his readers, "black people across the country were largely cut out of the legitimate home-mortgage market."
Three months after Clyde Ross moved into his house, the boiler blew out. This would normally be a homeowner’s responsibility, but in fact, Ross was not really a homeowner. His payments were made to the seller, not the bank. And Ross had not signed a normal mortgage. He’d bought “on contract”: a predatory agreement that combined all the responsibilities of homeownership with all the disadvantages of renting-- while offering the benefits of neither. Ross had bought his house for $27,500. The seller, not the previous homeowner but a new kind of middleman, had bought it for only $12,000 six months before selling it to Ross. In a contract sale, the seller kept the deed until the contract was paid in full-- and, unlike with a normal mortgage, Ross would acquire no equity in the meantime. If he missed a single payment, he would immediately forfeit his $1,000 down payment, all his monthly payments, and the property itself.

The men who peddled contracts in North Lawndale would sell homes at inflated prices and then evict families who could not pay-- taking their down payment and their monthly installments as profit. Then they’d bring in another black family, rinse, and repeat. “He loads them up with payments they can’t meet,” an office secretary told the Chicago Daily News of her boss, the speculator Lou Fushanis, in 1963. “Then he takes the property away from them. He’s sold some of the buildings three or four times.”

Ross had tried to get a legitimate mortgage in another neighborhood, but was told by a loan officer that there was no financing available. The truth was that there was no financing for people like Clyde Ross. From the 1930s through the 1960s, black people across the country were largely cut out of the legitimate home-mortgage market through means both legal and extralegal. Chicago whites employed every measure, from “restrictive covenants” to bombings, to keep their neighborhoods segregated.

The devastating effects are cogently outlined by Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro in their 1995 book, Black Wealth/White Wealth:
Locked out of the greatest mass-based opportunity for wealth accumulation in American history, African Americans who desired and were able to afford home ownership found themselves consigned to central-city communities where their investments were affected by the “self-fulfilling prophecies” of the FHA appraisers: cut off from sources of new investment[,] their homes and communities deteriorated and lost value in comparison to those homes and communities that FHA appraisers deemed desirable.
In Chicago and across the country, whites looking to achieve the American dream could rely on a legitimate credit system backed by the government. Blacks were herded into the sights of unscrupulous lenders who took them for money and for sport. “It was like people who like to go out and shoot lions in Africa. It was the same thrill,” a housing attorney told the historian Beryl Satter in her 2009 book, Family Properties. “The thrill of the chase and the kill.” ... Contract sellers became rich.
Now... back to Compton and Hall, the crooked state senator being boosted by the party establishment for a congressional seat (CA-44) that covers, San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Compton, North Long Beach, Willowbrook, Lynwood, Watts, South Gate and West Rancho Dominguez, a district that is over 70% Latino.

After some of the Alameda Court tenants filed a lawsuit over the leases, complaining of violations of their supposed "rent-to-own" provisions, claiming that there was never any intention to let these tenants buy their apartments, they were served with eviction papers-- and further claiming that Senator Hall received special "white glove" treatment and was exempt from the harassment that Plaintiffs endured because of his relationship with the landlord. Instead of being credited towards down payments, the additional payments were confiscated by the property managers to cover "repairs" and "deposits." Sound familiar? And Coates thought this was a practice that was used against blacks "from the 1930s through the 1960s?"

While the plaintiffs continued to proffer rents, their payments were rejected and the retaliatory evictions proceeded. And caught up in the mix was our friend, Senator Hall. He too was served with eviction papers (less than 3 months ago while he was running for Congress)! Somehow he owed rent of $4,800 and ran up utility bills of $5,000! What was he growing?? After allowing Hall to live rent-free in the complex, "Landlord" Doug Baker signed a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that Hall had not paid rent since March, 2015.

Are you listening, California Democrats? You endorsed him for Congress! Yes-- it's a good idea to get him out of LA-- even his landlord agrees-- but is this the best way to do it? Congress has more than enough crooks already.

Blue America has endorsed environmental hero Nanette Barragán in the CA-44 race. If you can, please help her raise the money she needs to compete against the Democratic Party establishment machine behind Hall. You can contribute to her grassroots campaign here.

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