On a bitterly cold December 9, 2006 Saturday morning, the Birmingham Field Office participated in a Town Hall Meeting on Predatory Lending sponsored by U.S. Representative Artur Davis. The meeting featured a panel of housing experts that included: Kimberly Warden, Vice-President, Center for Responsible Lending; Cindy Yarbrough, Field Office Director, Birmingham HUD Office; Ron Scott, Associate State Director for Advocacy for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP); Theresa Washington-Campbell, Vice President, New South Federal Savings Bank; and Truitt Evans, Compliance Officer for the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama. Despite the cold, over 100 people participated in the meeting.
U.S. Representative Artur Davis offers opening remarks at Town Hall Meeting on Predatory Lending organized by his office and attended by over 100 persons.
The purpose of the Town Hall Meeting was to provide education on predatory lending practices and on ways to avoid becoming a victim. Ms. Warden explained what predatory lending is, discussed who is at risk of being taken advantage of and further explained the difference between sub-prime and predatory loans. Ms. Campbell gave the warning signs that indicate when one may be getting offered a sub-prime or predatory loan, while also explaining that there are some circumstances that merit the use of sub- prime products.
Mr. Scott of AARP talked about the reasons senior citizens are so often the target of predatory lending schemes, and he paraphrased his answer to a line from an old gangster movie, where they asked the gangster why he robbed banks, and the gangster's answer was, "because that was where the money was." Mr. Scott noted quite simply that the reason seniors are so often the target of predatory lending schemes is that they tend to have value in their homes.
Participants in Town Hall Meeting on Predatory Lending listen attentively during presentations. Over 100 participants turned out for the Saturday morning program despite the bitterly cold weather.
Mr. Truitt Evans of the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama and Cindy Yarbrough, Field Office Director for Birmingham HUD Office, talked about what consumers could do to protect themselves from predatory lending, as well as what persons should do if they feel they have become a victim of predatory lending. Ms. Yarbrough announced FHA's Home for the Holiday sales event and provided information on many of HUD's programs in support of homeownership. Ralph Logan of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity was available to provide information on the discrimination complaints process.
The more than 100 persons who came out to participate in this Town Hall meeting left with a wealth of education and knowledge that should help reduce the possibility they will become the victims of predatory lending. The program was enthusiastically received.