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National Black Chamber of Commerce
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Honorable Edolphus Towns, Chairman
Honorable Darrell E. Issa, Ranking Minority Member
Harry C. Alford
Honorable Chairman Towns, Ranking Minority Member Issa, the National Black Chamber of Commerce holds much gratitude that you have invited us to this hearing. As you know we are the largest Black business association in the world. We are nonpartisan, nonprofit with a mission to economically empower African American communities through entrepreneurship and good policy. The NBCC proudly represents the over 1 million small businesses that are Black owned. It is the fastest growing group per the US Census Bureau (45% growth over five years). We hope to begin making a significant milestone today.
In regards to unemployment there are a few serious things the federal government can do. It can cease supporting discrimination through non enforcement of some significant laws and it can prevent serious negative impact from some upcoming programs. Without doing this the recovery act and any other major initiative will have little if not negative impact on minority communities, in particular, Black communities.
Section 3 of the HUD Act (24
On the job training of minorities and women is anathema to construction unions and they have fought this fiercely. HUD does not enforce Section 3. They have never fined, banned nor held funds to any of the thousands of recalcitrant grantees. HUD has relented to the construction unions that discriminate freely against people of color and women. If Section 3 was enforced it would bring over 100,000 new jobs to African Americans alone each and every year. We need enforcement of Section 3.
Another big opportunity to ease the unemployment in minority communities is that of the Federal Highway Administration. The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE, 49
Construction union shops that monopolize these highway contracts do not adequately employ minorities or women. In fact, they do not even comply with Executive Order 11246 (John F. Kennedy). State departments of transportation do not comply with Executive Order 11246 nor enforce it with their prime and subcontractors. In fact, in February, 1999, the Federal Highway Administration canceled Executive Order 11246. A copy of that cancellation is attached. Since then state departments and local contractors have become basically white male organizations. Dr. Martin Luther King and all of those other greats who gave their lives for equal opportunity have been betrayed.
If Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 11246 which ensures Title
Those are the laws written decades ago. Now let’s go to potentially lethal initiatives (job killers). It was a proud moment when President George W. Bush announced his executive order to ban Project Labor Agreements (
Construction unions by nature of their employment roles cannot comply with Executive Order 11246. What is about to happen is Presidential endorsed discrimination. It is damaging, anti civil rights and human rights and definitely voids out the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I beg Congress to prevent this until construction unions integrate. They have had 45 years to integrate and still refuse. They should be banned rather than rewarded exclusivity for racist and sexist hiring patterns. They usually fool local officials with pre-apprentice training programs but they never lead to job placement – never.
The next potential negative initiative is the Waxman/Markey Bill which is headed for the Senate. Our study done by Charles River Associates has been accepted by many prestigious organizations. In that study, it clearly shows that certain geography will suffer the greatest impact from losing the estimated 3.3 million jobs as a result of this bill being enacted. Attached is a map showing a 700 mile radius around
In essence, we are most concerned about activity that feeds unemployment and will sustain it and activity that will, in fact, increase unemployment in Black and other minority communities. It doesn’t have to be that way. The “ball” is in your court. Let’s enforce the good laws and prevent the bad ones from exacting their dirty deeds.
In regards to foreclosures we can enhance employment by attending to the above. Increasing employment would directly affect peoples’ ability to pay their mortgages. There isn’t much we can actually do but let the market take its course. Hopefully, we won’t go down that avarice road of sub-prime mortgages again and reign in renegade investors. Banks have been bailed out for the most part but the individual mortgage holders have to feel the pain and take their losses.
We are interested in the billions of dollars HUD has allotted under its Housing Stabilization Program. It is designed to provide technical assistance to citizens who have or are seeking mortgages. Where is this money going? Is it effective? We are having trouble identifying it at the street level. We are suspicious and ask for a thorough audit by Congress. Another question is: Why are many realtors and developers refusing FHA backed mortgages now? What can we do to make them more attractive to lenders?
Finally, we should manage the Community Reinvestment Act a lot better. We shouldn’t let it be used to gentrify Black communities. Greedy investors and institutions use the
Once again, thank you for this great opportunity. We hope we have provided