Housing

Inadequate income, lack of affordable housing and demanding caretaking responsibilities force many women to live in substandard housing. Domestic violence and poor credit ratings are other factors that undermine housing options for women and girls. The Sub-Prime mortgage crisis has hit low-income women and people of color particularly hard, with long-range implications for their housing opportunities. Affordable, accessible, quality housing is essential, not only for the economic security of women and their families but for their health and safety as well.

The Impact of the Global Recession

April 17, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar The Gender Policy Group at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs organized a lively panel discussion on “Gender, Jobs and This Recession” on Monday, April 13, 2009. I was invited to speak on the panel along with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Wolfe, Subha Barry and Heidi Brown. Here are the main points that I addressed: The current economic crisis is unprecedented in terms of its global reach and impact; here’s what the current economic crisis looks like within the United States.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that current unemployment stands at 13.2 million.
  • 5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.
  • The subprime lending crisis has particularly hit hard women and people of color because of predatory lending practices. NCRW’s research has shown that African American and Latina women borrowers are most likely to receive sub-prime loans at every income level. Women are 32% more likely than men to receive subprime mortgages.
  • In the financial sector, men’s unemployment in Feb was 6.9% while for women it was 6.6%
  • There have been increased reports of women who were secondary breadwinners in their households having to now become primary wage earner because of layoffs.

At the international level, the picture remains pretty grim as well:


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Taxes ARE a Woman's Issue: Reframing the Debate

“American women have a major stake in a fair tax system. Women are over half of the population, close to half the work force, and more than half of all taxpayers. Yet we rarely hear about how tax policy affects women from various walks of life. To date, discussion and debate on taxes in the U.S. has lacked a gender lens.”
-from Taxes ARE A Women’s Issue: Reframing the Debate

 

Teaser: 

This book examines the current tax system and highlights the ways in which it disadvantages women, their families, and their communities. The book demonstrates how women benefit from services paid for by taxes – but also how they are adversely affected by the ways in which taxes are currently collected. The information presented is intended to educate, inform, and inspire women to speak out about current tax policy and its impact on their well being and that of their families. The facts point to the strong link between fair taxes and the quality of all our lives.

Cover Image: 

Economic Facts Demonstrate the Fallacy of Our So-Called “Post-Race” Society

March 30, 2009 posted by admin Last week, the Insight Center for Community Development convened 75 assets-building experts of color from around the nation for the Color of Wealth 2009 Policy Summit . During the Summit, experts met with members of Congress and policy staff to discuss the gap between people of color and whites in economic security and mobility. While most people are familiar with the stat that people of color are three times more likely to receive a sub-prime mortgage loan than white borrowers, even when qualified for a prime loan,  the picture is actually much more stark. As Meizhu Lui, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at Insight, discusses in her recent Washington Post op-ed, white families are five times more likely to have bank account than families of color.  Furthermore, the racial wealth gap is actually widening. Says Lui,

“The gap between the wealth of white Americans and African Americans has grown. According to the Fed, for every dollar of wealth held by the typical white family, the African American family has only one dime. In 2004, it had 12 cents.  This is not just a gap.  It’s a deepening canyon. The overhyped political term ‘post-racial society’ becomes patently absurd when looking at these economic numbers.”

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FAST FACT: One-Third of New Yorkers Face Multiple Hardships

March 26, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird And that was BEFORE the recession hit! This week, I attended an amazing presentation by the Community Service Society and the New York Women’s Foundation, “Raising the Voice of Low-Income Women.” The Community Service Society (CSS) presented its 2009 findings for their annual Unheard Third Survey. According to CSS, "the Unheard Third tracks the concerns and hardships of New York City’s low-income residents and their views on what programs and policies would help them get ahead.”  What they found is quite distressing:

54% of low-income mothers in New York City faced 3 or more hardships in 2008.

Hardships include economic (losing a job), food (skipping meals), health (postponing necessary medical care), and housing (falling behind on rent or mortgage payments). Again, this is before the recession really took hold (CSS collected the data in summer 2008).  We can only speculate what next year’s Unheard Third Survey will find.  Between 2007 and 2008, CSS recorded a dramatic increase in hardships among working moms, especially economic and health hardships.


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DIVERSITY WRIT LARGE: A Response to So-Called “Post-Racial” America

March 11, 2009 posted by Delores M. Walters* The disproportionate effects of the seized-up economy on citizens of color whether in housing, employment or educational opportunity soundly refutes the idea that “we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country” as the Wall Street Journal claimed one day after Obama’s election. Others take a more moderate stance: “For all our huge progress, we are not “post-racial,” whatever that means. The world doesn’t change in a day, and the racial frictions that emerged in both the Democratic primary campaign and the general election didn’t end on Nov. 4. As Obama himself said in his great speech on race, liberals couldn’t “purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap” simply by voting for him. Perhaps wealth accumulation is the most convincing indicator of racial disparity in America. As Dalton Conley points out, the net worth of African American families is only one-eighth that of White families which is not due to differences in education, earnings or savings rates, but due to the legacy of racial discrimination. Other groups, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, for example, exhibit wealth accumulation rates that mirror the statistics for Blacks, while Cubans mirror those for Whites.


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THE GLOBAL TRACK: India--Land of Malls and Ragpickers

February 11, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar

 
 

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="298" caption="Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury"]Photograph: Deshakalyan Chowdhury[/caption]

I was recently in Calcutta, India, my place of birth, home to where my mother, a sibling, old friends, and sweet memories still reside. This is my other “home” where I try to get to every year to renew and regenerate myself, and recharge from the stresses of a running a two working parents’ nuclear household in frenetic New York City. My trip last month came after a two year gap; I felt the familiar overwhelming desire to be there, to be a part of the sights and sounds of an India that were at once familiar and yet distant to me. Having left almost 23 years ago to move to the US, I have a unique insider-outsider vantage point. I was born and brought up there; I know things instinctively – all the cultural puzzles, contradictions, nuances of language, wordplay and verbal cues, body language, subtle things - that only a native-born can ever know. But, having been away long enough, and trained in and working in a field where critical inquiry is required, I can no longer accept without questioning the status and daily conditions of millions of people living in absolute poverty, what Collier refers to as The Bottom Billion. Even as India’s economy grows steadily at about 8% a year, there are entire communities of people, some 300 million of them, who live under a $1 a day without regular access to food, water, housing, livelihoods, reproductive healthcare or education. Malnutrition in children under five is at a staggering 45%.

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TREASURY SECRETARY FORUM--Ms. Foundation President Sara Gould Advises Geithner to Bail Out Responsibly

Posted November 24, 2008 by Linda Basch

Linda Basch: What three recommendations do you have for Timothy Geithner, our next Treasury Secretary?

Sara Gould: First, we must strongly urge that the next Secretary ensure that the $700 billion bailout and other actions designed to address the economic crisis prioritize getting relief to communities that need it most. It’s not enough to rely on support for large banks to trickle down to middle and low-income people who are disproportionately affected by the plummeting economy—particularly when the banks’ share of the bailout came with few regulations and the conditions it did come with are being defied (see Naomi Klein’s article in The Nation).  Instead, the next Treasury Secretary should require that financial institutions use the bailout money for lending to consumers—instead of to boost the value of its shares. In addition to accountability and comprehensive regulations that apply to bailed-out banks and beyond, s/he should insist upon transparency and reveal exactly where the money is going and how it is being used. It is especially critical that the bailout money be used to help people who are facing or already in foreclosure—the majority of whom are likely women and people of color, as they were most likely to receive sub-prime loans in the first place. One promising option is to support FDIC chairperson Sheila Bair’s proposal to use $25 billion of the bailout to provide mortgage relief to homeowners. Her proposal would offer incentives to loan servicers to restructure mortgages, making payments more affordable. Second, an economic stimulus should be passed quickly. It should include immediate relief such as the extension of unemployment benefits as well as programs like job creation and training that will ensure economic stability for low- and middle-income people over the long-term. Any economic stimulus package should be sure to address the urgent needs of those who have been most impacted by the crisis, especially low-income women, women of color and their families. Recent statistics show that women are losing jobs at twice the rate of men. Third, we must return to a system of progressive taxation in which people with high incomes and net worth provide a larger share of tax revenues. New revenue should go towards domestic stimulus programs such as job training and infrastructure rebuilding as well as for key social and economic supports that have been eroded over the last two decades.


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