Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Failing capital markets and the extremely poor

Working on our housing effort in Downtown Dallas (City Walk @Akard) taught us a great deal about how hard it is to provide high-quality, affordable housing for the working poor and the homeless.

Even though we had millions of dollars lined up and secured, we found the entire closing process almost impossible, a clear signal to us that the credit markets were restricting dramatically earlier this year.

Going forward it seems clear that working out housing programs to benefit those most in need of good places to live will become more and more difficult, if not impossible, at least in the short term.
To be clear, the units I have in mind here are rental, not for sale.

As is usually the case, those at the bottom of the nation's economic life suffer disproportionately at times like the present.
Due to a lack of organization, necessary resources and political influence, folks at the bottom suffer, often in extreme circumstances.
Most of us don't or refuse to recognize or acknowledge their desperate plight. The poor have a way of suffering in relative silence and resignation.

A large part of our mission as a faith-based organization is to hear and acknowledge what is going on among our poorest neighbors and, then, to stand with them in attempting to make things better.
In short, it's always about much, much more than just charity.



Anonymous said...

I love what Steve Benen wrote recently: Newsweek's Jonathan Alter explained this very well last night on MSNBC's "Countdown."

"[Y]ou remember the Keating Five scandal that he was a part of, which, by the way, it's crazy but there's been very little about it in the press in the last few weeks," Alter said. "And McCain thinks he's getting a hard time, he's really getting a free ride on the fact that he was in the middle of the last great financial scandal in our country. But his reaction to that, you would have thought, would have been more regulation of the financial services industry. Instead he moved forward on campaign finance reform after being caught in that scandal, but did nothing -- nothing -- to try to prevent another savings and loan crisis from happening down the road. He was missing in action when it came to even learning the basic lessons of a scandal that he said taught him all kinds of things that he would never forget."

I suspect editors at the major news outlets would say they're blowing off McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal because it's a 20-year-old story. It's a fair, but incomplete, point.

The story may be old, but it's recently become surprisingly relevant to current events -- we are, after all, talking about a scandal involving major bank failures, financial fraud and greed, and political ineptitude. Sound familiar? For that matter, McCain is running with a message about his ability to "reform" both DC and Wall Street, so it's hardly unreasonable for reporters to compare McCain's platform to McCain's record.

As Josh Marshall concluded, "Let's face it. On major economy-imperiling financial scandals brought about by lax regulation and help from lobbyist-encrusted politicians, McCain really is the candidate of experience."

Food for honest thought!

Paula Johnson

Karen Shafer said...

This is indeed a powerful and authentic post.

It's enlightening to hear about the struggles CDM has in bringing these projects to fruition. If your organization has them with your experience, talent and expertise, then they're a tough sell indeed.