Archives for category: Housing

The ideas behind Rebuild the Dream—and specifically, the Contract for the American Dream—were what got this group started. Now those ideas are fleshed out in a highly readable and inspiring book by Van Jones, also titled Rebuild the Dream.

Rebuild the Dream

Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy and an environmental activist and former special advisor to the Obama administration on clean-energy jobs, examines the dynamics behind Barack Obama’s election and the forces that have since emerged to challenge him. He pays particular attention to the Tea Party, and seeks to learn what tactics can be adopted from its 2010 electoral success. He also examines the Occupy movement and suggests what it needs to do to accomplish its goals. Mainly, though, Jones issues a clarion call to join the Rebuild the Dream movement to revive the American economy and restore the country’s greatness.

Jones doesn’t pretend this will be easy, but he does bring great optimism to his focus on achieving change through consensus and bottom-up direction, and through community organizing, “crowd-sourcing,” online petitions, digital projects and conferences. He explains how movements fit into a “Heart Space/Head Space” grid, and how progressives need to appeal to the emotions as well as the intellect (a lesson learned from the Tea Party). Finally, he focuses on the Contract for the American Dream, and how it embodies the values that can make America work again.

If you long for progressive change but sometimes despair of achieving it, read this book. Its common sense and can-do attitude will give you a lift. Then, take action. Join the Rebuild the Dream movement. And if you’re in our neck of the woods, join BlueInGreene as well.

This morning it was announced that the federal government and forty-nine state attorneys general (Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt wouldn’t sign on because he doesn’t think banks should see any penalty) reached a $26 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial and Citigroup. The settlement could provide at least some relief to nearly two million current and former American homeowners. A federal judge must still sign off on the deal.

Under the plan, officials said, roughly $5 billion would be cash payments to states and federal authorities, $17 billion would be spent on homeowner relief, $3 billion would go for refinancing and a final $1 billion would be paid to the Federal Housing Administration. The intent of the settlement is both to stop the housing market’s downward slide and to hold the banks financially accountable for foreclosure abuses. Bank of America, the nation’s biggest mortgage servicer, would pay the most.

This will not be the end of the housing crisis. The settlement is not large enough, and frankly it lets the five participating banks off too lightly. More needs to be done to bring housing back and achieve a truly fair reckoning. Although $26 billion is a lot of money, it’s only a small fraction of the $700 billion in negative equity that exists in the housing market. It’s a start, but only a start.