Thursday, June 27, 2013

CBL Addresses, Today!

Over the past several months of collecting information on the CBL, I have been compiling a roster of CBL members and addresses.  Many of the addresses we found are from a photograph in the 1972 Atlantic Monthly article, some names were listed in court documents, but not their addresses, and a few more were taken from various newspaper articles written about individual members of the CBL.  We don't know if any CBL members are still living in these homes.  We aren't even sure if many of these homes are still standing.

So this past Monday, I started going to these addresses to see what condition the buildings are in, and to ring some doorbells and talk to the residents to find out if any CBL members are still living or if their families are still living in the same homes that were bought on contract in the 50s and 60s.  I didn't really know what to expect.  It started out pretty discouraging;  4 of the first 5 addresses I went to are now vacant lots.  There was hope though.  I talked to the residents in the one house still there and explained the CBL to them.  They did not know anything about it, but the last name of the CBL resident for that address is the name of their landlady, so they were going to tell her about our interest and plans for an exhibit.

I made it to about 30 addresses that afternoon.  I came across a few more vacant lots and a few vacant, boarded up buildings, but many of them are still standing and have someone living there.  I talked to one man whose mother was in the CBL, another woman said her in-laws had bought their house on contract and were a part of the CBL but are now deceased, and a teenage boy who was going to relay the information to his 82-year-old grandmother.

Here are some photos of CBL homes that were owned with pride.  More to come...

(All photographs by John Wolf.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Emergence of Exploitative Contract Selling, Part 4: The Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 are two key acts of federal legislation that were passed to combat various discriminatory housing practices around the country.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968, also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was the final piece of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, and came from the recommendations of the Kerner Commission, which stated that residential segregation was the primary cause for urban unrest, only after the rioting following Martin Luther King’s assassination.1  The Fair Housing Act made illegal the discriminatory practices of redlining, racial covenants, and blockbusting that resulted in segregation.  It prohibits discrimination in the sale and rental of housing by landlords, real estate companies, banks, lending institutions, and insurance companies on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.  Sex, disability, and familial status were included in later amendments.2  The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had prohibited discrimination in housing, but there were no enforcement provisions until 1968 with the creation of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.3 

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was passed to ensure banks make credit available to all parts of the communities they serve, including low- to moderate-income, and minority communities.4  Banks would accept deposits from African Americans, but then refused to extend credit to those families because they were in "redlined" neighborhoods.  The CRA was passed to promote banking services in these communities and to move private funds back into urban neighborhoods.  Gale Cincotta, of Chicago’s National People’s Action, led the fight to pass the CRA through Congress and enforce it.5  The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 was passed to collect data and ensure disclosure, and the CRA was passed to use that data to implement policy.  The two were meant to work together.  It was Gale Cincotta’s belief and efforts to get these acts of legislation passed to improve the lending conditions in urban neighborhoods.

Emergence of Exploitative Contract Selling, Part 1: An Introduction  

Emergence of Exploitative Contract Selling, Part 2:  Restrictive Covenants and Real Estate Boards

Emergence of Exploitative Contract Selling, Part 3: The Federal Housing Administration

“Kerner Report”. Wikipedia.
2 “1968: Federal Fair Housing Act”.
3 “The Fair Housing Act of 1968”.
4 “Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)”.
5 “Community Reinvestment Act”. Wikipedia.