14 Apr

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Congressman Gregory Meeks delivering a Keynote address to the entire NCRC conference.

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The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) held its annual conference, Creating a Just Economy, from March 28 -30, 2017. The NCRC conference brings together over a thousand individuals across sectors including: community nonprofits, government, small businesses, and banks.

PCRG staff, board members, and AmeriCorps VISTAs had the opportunity to attend the conference this year. Throughout the week they heard keynote addresses from the following individuals:

  • Maxine Waters – U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd District
  • John Taylor – President and CEO, NCRC
  • Janet Yellen – Chair Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Sherrod Brown – U.S. Senator for Ohio
  • Thomas J. Curry – Comptroller of the Currency
  • Gregory Meeks – U.S. Representative for New York’s 5th District
  • Richard Cordray – Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Marc H. Morial – President and CEO, National Urban League

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The conference also offered numerous informative sessions categorized into Workforce and Community Development, Organizing, Policy Advocacy, Access to Credit, Capital, and Banking Services, Housing, and Civil Rights. Below PCRG staff members highlight their favorite sessions.

The Racial and Gender Wealth Divides:
“During this session, I had the pleasure of hearing from Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. Valerie focused on the wealth disparities between gender and race. There is a bottom line when it comes to achieving wealth and that is that someone either gives you wealth or you earn it and build wealth yourself. Income directly determines one’s ability to build wealth and income is determined by a person’s wages. This is where racial and gender wage gaps become extremely crucial when discussing wealth. Through research, Valerie compared white and African American women to white males with similar educational backgrounds, years of work experience, and similar geographic areas, African American women earn $.66 and white women earn $.77 on the dollar compared to white men. This shows us that African American women are disadvantaged by both gender and race. Some respond to this and say that perhaps African American women should receive a higher education or change career fields and that would help to eliminate the gap. The problem with this response is that education does not close or eliminate racial disparities or the gender wage gap when speaking about wealth. In actuality, racial wage gaps between African Americans and whites have grown the most amongst college graduates. Valerie ended her session by reiterating the importance of focusing on eliminating and blocking policy that encourages a gender and racial wealth gap. My largest takeaway from this session was that we all need to be making a conscious effort to inform others on why individuals are not responsible for the gender and racial wealth gaps and to keep working towards policy that empowers all individuals.” – Caley Yakemowicz

Two Tools for Reinvestment: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and the Community Reinvestment Act
“By the end of the NCRC conference, I felt empowered and ready to tackle every problem in the community development world. This conference allowed me to make connections between CRA, affordable housing, and banking policy that I wasn’t able to see before. This conference provides invaluable tools to advocates, government officials, bankers, housing specialists, and other non-profits working in the community development sphere.” – Kathryn Schlesinger

Appraisals and Their Impact on Communities of Color:
“Wayne Early, Housing Committee Chair for the South DeKalb Improvement Association in Georgia, began this session by showing a series of houses and what they had been appraised for. All of the houses were in DeKalb County and yet there was a clear lack of continuity in the values assigned. Throughout this session, presenters highlighted ways in which the policies that define the appraisal process allow for iniquitous appraisals. Furthermore, the presenters made clear how the under-valuing of properties has lasting, negative impacts on the economy of the surrounding community.” – Rosalie Evans

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PCRG’s Executive Director moderating the panel ”The Role of Cities in Advocating for Reinvestment.”

Brigid O'Hara

Member Engagement Coordinator & Communications Coordinator at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
Originally from Pittsburgh, Brigid briefly left to study Political Science - concentrating on US National Government - Education, and Studio Arts at the College of Wooster, located in the quaint town of Wooster, OH. During a summer stint in England, Brigid changed it up and studied UK Politics, adding to her understanding of government systems. Brigid is thrilled to be back in her hometown and is ready to take her knowledge and use it throughout PCRG’s programs. You can find Brigid hiking around Pittsburgh’s great outdoors, at any event with free music and food, or reading on her front porch.