A group of residents and organizations got together last winter to talk about this mounting crisis. Those present formed the Saint Paul Fair Lending Coalition, which consists of resident leaders, the Frogtown Neighborhood Association District 7, Summit-University Planning Council, Jewish Community Action, Hmong American Partnership, and Aurora-Saint Anthony NDC.
We have two goals:
- Prevent foreclosures through direct outreach.
- Change the way banks are treating this neighborhood.
The focus of our outreach efforts is the Frogtown-Rondo neighborhood: from the train tracks to Selby Avenue and Lexington Parkway to Rice Street.
The first goal: preventing foreclosures through direct outreach, got underway this summer. Every Monday, teams go doorknock renters and owners in the neighborhood who are 6-weeks away from foreclosure (using publicly available data) and build a base of neighbors willing to call or email banks on behalf of those being treated unfairly by lenders. Last week, we encountered one rental unit that had just received notice of foreclosure from the bank. Renters have rights, but the bank and landlord were obviously not informing them of their right to stay in the home for the duration of their lease. Through referrals and counseling, we help homeowners and renters stay in their homes. We encourage everyone to volunteer with a doorknock team. If you are interested, Contact Us.
Here's where we've doorknocked so far:
The second goal: changing the way banks treat Frogtown-Rondo, involves a higher level of strategy and collective power. Using incentives and punishments, we hope to create more fair lending in the neighborhood. One proposal underway in Minneapolis is to pass a city or county ordinance requiring banks to report their fair lending information (# of foreclosures each year, # of modifications vs. foreclosures, # of small business loans, etc) in order to be eligible to receive city or county deposits. The ordinance also would require the banks to submit a Reinvestment Plan every two years on how they are going to increase fair lending. Failure to disclose this information or make improvements on practices would result in a loss of millions of government deposits. The District 7 team is thinking up more creative, Frogtown-specific ways to increase fair lending and need your input!
Every month we have a dinner, discussion, and doorknock. This month's event is at Unity Baptist Church (118 Victoria St N., corner of Victoria and Laurel) at 5:30. All are welcome.