National CAPACD Policy Matters - March 2015
Spring is upon us and we are happy to report on a number of exciting developments here at National CAPACD as we kick off our 15th year together. We wanted to give our members some updates on what's going on in our nation's capital:
REPORT FROM THE HILL
It is "Approps" season here in DC when the President and Congress will decide how to allocate funding to authorized federal agencies. The federal budget process for Fiscal Year 2016 kicked off in early February with the release of the President’s Budget, laying out a blueprint that shows a commitment to expanding the middle class, strengthening the social safety net, and ensuring economic opportunitities, for nearly $4 trillion dollars.
In response to the President's budget, Congress is currently developing its own budget plan, called a congressional budget resolution, which sets the total level of discretionary funding (the 302a allocation). The funding process will then move to the twelve Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate, where they determine the program-by-program funding levels for all federal agencies. Currently, budget hearings are being held by Appropriations Committees including Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD); Financial Services; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS-ed); Defense; and Interior and Environment. You can see the detailed list of House Committees and Hearings [here] and Senate Committees [here].
Based on feedback we received from our membership, National CAPACD worked with the National Council on Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) to reccomend priorities and support for federal program funding levels to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Our HUD priorities submitted to CAPAC’s Housing Taskforce included supporting adequate funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant, Housing Counseling Assistance, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Native Hawaiian Loan Guarantee Fund (Section 184A), Community Development Block Grant, and the Housing for the Elderly (Section 202). Our Financial Services priorities submitted to CAPAC’s Economic Development Taskforce included supporting adequate funding for Women’s Business Centers, Microloan Technical Assistance, PRIME Technical Assistance, 8(a) Business Development Program, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Matching Grant Program.
In addition to our work with NCAPA, National CAPACD has endorsed The People's Budget: A Raise for America developed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has supported other housing and safety net programs with our national allies, including Americans for Financial Reform, NDD United, SAVE for All Campaign, National Housing Resource Center, Coalition of HUD Housing Counseling Intermediaries, Coalition on Human Needs, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Briefings
National CAPACD, in collaboration with NCAPA, CAPAC, Senator Mazie Hirono, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, is working to organize two briefings on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders on March 24th and 25th, 2015 in Washington, DC - one for member organizations of NCAPA and the other for Members of Congress and their staff. In addition, meetings are also planned for the White House, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), federal agencies, and key congressional offices to further discuss priorities for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
OUR WORK WITH THE ADMINISTRATION
On February 19, 2015, National CAPACD met with senior leaders of HUD to discuss key priorities we hope to address before the end of the Obama Administration. Priorities included:
- Ensuring the methodology for the 2017 American Housing Survey will better reflect the needs of low-income AAPI households
- Raising concerns about the potentially unintended consequences of the Proposed Rule Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing in exacerbating issues of displacement in historic ethnic communities.
- Taking into account the challenges faced by linguistically and culturally isolated communities in future HUD Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) allocations for housing counseling.
- Ensuring equal access to mortgage financing and improved loss mitigation services for Native Hawaiians living on Homelands.
Agency representatives were receptive to our requests and we look forward to continuing this work with HUD over the coming year. We are encouraging HUD to announce its work with National CAPACD during the upcoming Asian Pacific American Heritage Month events.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The CFPB's mission is to make markets for consumer financial products and servicers work for Americans - whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards or using any number of other consumer financial products. In an effort to improve consumer financial product access for communities with limited English proficiency, National CAPACD collaborated with the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) to submit comments regarding CFPB's Language Access Plan in January 2015. Our recommendations included:
- Improvement of data collection on the consumer financial protection needs of Limited English Proficient communities
- Improvement of language access to CFPB’s consumer complaint services
- Expansion of outreach and stakeholder engagement to AAPI communities
- Expansion of written translations to include additional Asian languages
- Further application of CFPB's enforcement and supervision authorities to monitor language accessibility to financial products and services
- Lead an interagency language access task force with HUD, Federal Housing and Finance Agency, and other relevant federal agencies
In addition, National CAPACD collaborated with members of Americans for Financial Reform to submit comments. Currently, CFPB is in the process of reviewing all submitted public comments and revising their Language Access Plan accordingly.
National CAPACD is also working with the WHIAAPI on a request for CFPB to join its Inter-Agency Working Group (IWG). The IWG is tasked to create and implement agency plans to increase participation in and access to federal programs in which AAPIs may be underserved. Because CFPB is a newer agency, it was not included in the IWG from inception.
National CAPACD is also participating in a CFPB Payday Campaign led by the Center for Responsible Lending. The purpose of the national campaign is to get CFPB to issue a strong payday rule. As part of the effort, coalition partners are working with Members of Congress to send a Quad Caucus (Progressive Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Black Caucus) letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray calling for a strong rule.
In Other News...
In response to concerns raised by National CAPACD and other advocacy groups regarding the CIT Group acquisition of OneWest, the Federal Reserve held a hearing in Los Angeles on February 26th, 2015. In partnership with the California Reinvestment Coalition, National CAPACD and several Los Angeles member organizations (Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program, and Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment) provided testimony to raise continued concerns about the merger, including the poor track records of both OneWest and CIT in adequately investing and lending to low-income AAPIs.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Each May, in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, National CAPACD participates in a week-long series of events in coordination with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This year, federal agencies will be publicly presenting their plans for engagement with the AAPI community. In addition, National CAPACD will present key new research on AAPI economic health at the AAPI data summit. A full schedule of events planned for May 11th to May 15th, 2015 can be seen [here]. We hope to see you there!