Tuesday, January 18, 2011

DOJ Forms Group To Fight Post-9/11 Discriminatory Backlash

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez has directed the U. S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division National Origin Working Group to work to combat violations of civil rights laws against Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South-Asian Americans, and those thought or treated as members of these, by starting the Initiative to Combat Post-9/11 Discriminatory Backlash. Among a lot of tools and information the site has copies in various languages of the Civil Rights Division brochure "Federal Protections Against National Origin Discrimination" which provides more information about the laws the Division enforces, namely: Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Hindi, Korean, Laotian, Punjabi, Russian, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese. Go to the DOJ page.

Incidentally, for those of us who didn't know before, including me, Tagalog is, according to Wikipedia: "pronounced /təˈɡɑːlɒɡ/ in English, and is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. It is the first language of the Philippine region IV (Calabarzon and Mimaropa) and of Metro Manila. Its standardized form, commonly called Filipino, is the national language and one of two official languages of the Philippines. It is related to - though not readily intelligible with - other Austronesian languages such as Malay–Indonesian, Javanese, and Hawaiian."

Disability Housing Act Signed

On January 4, 2011 President Obama signed into law S. 1481, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010. The law makes improvements in the Section 811 program and promotes integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities. It will create 3,500 - 5,000 new affordable and accessible units every year. For more information read a summary of the passing of the law.

8 Signs of Predatory Lending

The Center for Responsible Lending has an informative "What to watch out for when you’re shopping for a home loan." Just go to: http://www.responsiblelending.org/mortgage-lending/tools-resources/8-signs-of-predatory-lending.html In short the 8 are:

(1) Big Fees

“Points” or “discount points” are the lender’s fee for making the loan. A charge of three points - 3% or less of the loan amount - is a good deal, including such necessities as an appraisal and title insurance. Get your credit score in advance and research typical fees in the area.

(2) Penalties For Paying Off Early

A “prepayment penalty” requires you to pay a steep fee before refinancing. The penalty period can last several years and cost thousands of dollars.

(3) Inflated Interest Rates From Brokers

Brokers can make more money if they raise the interest rate above the lender’s actual charge. Ask if your broker will be paid a “yield-spread premium” – a financial reward lenders pay for inflated interest rates.

(4) Steering And Targeting

Predatory lenders often target senior citizens and people of color to place them in unnecessarily expensive loans. Don’t respond to ads that say bad credit doesn’t matter, and be very wary of lenders or brokers who contact you or those who try to rush you into decisions.

(5) Adjustable Interest Rates That "Explode"

Beware of adjustable-rate loans that can rise significantly, especially if it isn’t possible for the interest rate to go lower, only higher. Make sure you understand the worst-case scenario for future payments. And don’t count on a future refinance to rescue you from an unaffordable loan.

(6) Promises To Fix Problems With Future Refinances

Predatory lenders are notorious for selling bad deals by promising that they will refinance the loan later. If a loan stretches you too much now or in the future, just say no.

(7) Repeated Refinances That Drain You

Repeated refinances mean you lose more money in points and fees every time. Don’t be tempted by cash now when you might end up owing even more on your house, losing valuable equity, and paying more than necessary. Just say no.

(8) Not Counting Taxes And Insurance

Know in advance whether your monthly mortgage payment will include the costs of property taxes and insurance (i.e., whether the lender has established an escrow account for these costs). Unscrupulous lenders make house payments seem artificially low by not counting all costs - which you will be required to pay.

Second International Research Conference on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities Will Be September 19 - 21

The Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities is seeking proposals for presentations at its conference which takes place from September 19 – 21, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA. Presentations and posters should be on current research findings and practices that address the individual supports needed to promote full community inclusion of individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Deadline for all submissions is January 31, 2011. For any additional questions related to the conference, contact Andrea Bilger abilger@temple.edu, or 215.204.3006. For more information on community inclusion, please see http://www.upennrrtc.org or the new website (http://www.tucollaborative.org).

CIA Honors Civil Rights Heroes

The celebrations of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were bolstered by the CIA's strong participation this year. At a CIA gathering on the Civil Rights Movement, Director Leon Panetta spoke eloquently about the progress our country has made. Read the CIA press release. One quote from the CNN story is worth remembering for all of us: "Director Leon Panetta told the intelligence officers it is just as important today that all Americans follow the message of King, that 'unless we provide equality to all, regardless of race, regardless of color or creed or gender or disability or sexual orientation, that none of us truly can be free.' Panetta called on everyone to rededicate themselves to the American dream King fought and died for, "an America of, by and for all people.'" Read the CNN.com article.