Some of you who know us for our local work may be surprised to learn that we do this work all over the state. And we not only work on housing related problems for individuals, but we work on that broad fabric of household financial problems that affect most of us. We want you to get to know us even better.
With our supporters' help, we crafted and got passed SB1150, authored by Senator Leno, which allows surviving spouses and other family members file in court to stop foreclosure until the servicer considers them for loan modification or other ways to save the family home. Many of you know that we have been obsessed with solving this problem for years and have advocated vigorously on the federal level as well for policy changes to protect survivors.
Help from supporters also allowed us to protect students from the burden of student loan debt—both debts from abusive for-profit schools, like Corinthians and ITT, as well as debt from reputable institutions. Student loan debt servicers remind us of mortgage servicers—focused on collections at all costs, but not on making sure students understand their payment options. HERA has protected many indigent students eligible for debt relief from further abuse by collectors. Your support helped us pursue policy improvements for students at the state and federal level. With a federal administration that is unfriendly to students (and many other residents), we are now considering litigation options.
Because of great supporters, we were able to expand our Financial Wellness workshops across the Central Valley, from Sacramento to Madera County, which is a region of residents starved for help addressing household financial concerns. You helped us deepen our commitment to serving this 250 mile swath of our fair state.
Bail bonds cases made an appearance in our work this year, and we not only defended homeowners successfully against wrongful foreclosure on their home by bond holders, but we also have added our voices to coalitions focused on the larger concern we share about bail reform in general and court fees and fines.
Supporters helped us save Gloria, who found out for the first time that a dealership had added $13,000 in illegal fees and other costs into her truck purchase agreement only when a friend read her contract to her (it was in English, and she speaks Spanish). HERA resolved that problem and got Gloria compensated as well.
So, how did we get this all done? Through fantastic staff people, yes. Through brilliant partners of many different kinds, definitely. And many of you are already one of those partners. We so appreciate you. We would love for you to also become supporters. And coming to our annual event is one of the best bang for you buck ways to do so, and to get to know us better.
Addressing the racial and gender wealth gap is core to HERA's work and mission. Please Join HERA on September 15, 2017, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Oakland Impact HUB (close to BART and freeway) to celebrate and listen to Professor Mehrsa Baradaran discuss her new book, The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap. When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the black community owned less than one percent of the Unite States' total wealth. More than 150 years later, that number has barely budged. The Color of Money pursues that persistence of this racial wealth gap and the role that black banks have had and could still have in reducing that imbalance.
We will also be joined by Ed Kissam of the WKFamily Fund to discuss critical issues we face with the US Census process, which can affect how resources are distributed to our state, voting and more. Mr. Kissam has worked nationally on issues of differential census undercount for three decades and published papers on farm worker undercount and coverage measurement in the 1990, 2000, and 2010 decennial censuses. He has also participated in qualitative research and operational mapping for the Census Bureau, as part of their ongoing improvement, development of messaging strategy and as guidance for non-response follow-up.
You can get tickets here. If it turns out that you or your office are inspired to become a Sponsor, then check out the benefits that come with that! Here is our Sponsorship page and Pledge form.
As we enter our 13th year of service across the State of California, we promise to be creative and mindful of the enormous changes afoot that affect low and moderate income residents. We will continue to fight on many different fronts to address race and gender disparities in building a safe and happy financial present and hanging onto it into the future.
Maeve Elise Brown