Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tell President Elect Trump to Appoint Cabinet Members Concerned with the Rights of the Poor: an open letter to the Christian Community Development Association

 Nov. 30, 2016

Dear Friends at Christian Community Development Association (CCDA):

I feel compelled to write this open letter to CCDA in the prophetic tradition because I feel strongly that President Elect Trump’s choice for treasury secretary would be very detrimental to those that CCDA cares so deeply about. 

I have followed Dr. Perkins for over 35 years, and lived and worked at the Harambee center. My Christian faith has been deeply shaped by the mission of CCDA. As a Christian missionary, I was led to live in an African American neighborhood of Pasadena and committed myself to learn from my neighbors. Over the years I have witnessed gentrification and the exodus of African Americans from my neighborhood. This led me to become concerned about housing justice—writing, teaching and giving workshops around the country. I edited Making Housing Happen which features many CCDA leaders who have addressed the housing crisis and they have had a profound influence on me. Because of deep concern for housing justice, I am heart-sick to witness the cabinet choices of President Elect Donald Trump, especially his choice for treasury secretary.  According to a report from Democracy Now:

…..[ President Elect Trump] named billionaire Steven Mnuchin to be treasury secretary. Mnuchin has deep ties on Wall Street, including working as a partner for Goldman Sachs, where his father also worked. Mnuchin’s hedge fund also played a role in the housing crisis, after it scooped up the failing California bank IndyMac in 2008. Under Mnuchin’s ownership, IndyMac foreclosed on 36,000 families, particularly elderly residents trapped in reverse mortgages. Mnuchin was accused of running a "foreclosure machine." The bank, which was renamed OneWest, was also accused of racially discriminatory lending practices. In 2015, Mnuchin sold the bank for $3.4 billion—$1.8 billion more than he bought it for.

Living in Pasadena, CA, home of IndyMac later named One West (by the investor pool led by Mnuchin in 2009) I experienced first-hand the effects of this “foreclosure machine.” I have friends who worked for IndyMac and together we watched it follow the path of providing subprime loans to people who could not afford them. Loans were given to two immigrant families I knew who had high hopes for the American dream of homeownership. The documents, required to be in Spanish, were offered only in English. These families were not required to state their income. The loans were intentionally made so that the borrowers would not repay them. This led these families into serious financial difficulty. That’s where I came in, helping to save their homes. It was a race against time. Phone calls to the bank were never responded to, while foreclosure proceedings proceeded faster than we could fill out loan modification paperwork. After applying for programs designed to help, help never came. Their home was lost. The parents and their seven children were given 15 minutes to pack up and leave.

“Despite its secure financial footing, OneWest had a history of problems with regulators over its foreclosure practices and lending and has been accused of being unwilling to work with borrowers seeking mortgage loan modifications despite promises to do so. Community groups have accused the bank of being particularly aggressive about foreclosing on properties in minority neighborhoods.” [1]

In my book I feature Rose Gudiel who stood up to IndyMac when they tried to foreclose on her home. Courageous people, including the religious community, began an around-the-clock vigil preventing the sheriff from evicting her. Others protested at the home of the Steven Mnuchin, then president of IndyMac,  who lives in a 26 million dollar mansion in Bel Air. Only then did the bank decide to renegotiate her loan.

This is the bank president that President Elect Trump chose for treasurer secretary. His approach to banking reminds me of what one of my favorite theologians Walter Wink referred to as “powers and principalities”—the forces of Mammon, the God of Wall Street.

The prophets always spoke to nations, cities, kings and leaders, warning them to care for the most vulnerable. This incident causes me to recall the prophet Isaiah’s lament over Jerusalem:
Your leaders are rebels,
    the companions of thieves.
All of them
 love bribes
    and demand payoffs,
but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans
    or fight for the rights of widows.  Isaiah 1:23

I know that when we Evangelicals voted in the current election, we did not vote for a repeat of what happened in 2008 when low-income people were targeted for bad loans and lost not only their homes but most of the life savings. Many have not yet recovered from this devastating economic setback caused by bankers like Steven Mnuchin. Trump won support of the middle class by declaring “I will protect you from Goldman Sacs.”[2]   Now he is appointing a partner with Goldman Sachs. This is being called “a flip-flop of historic proportion.”[3]

As Christians, we are called to defend the rights of the poor. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, ensure justice for those being crushed, yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Therefore, I urge you to call upon President Elect Trump to reconsider appointing Mnuchin, and to urge your Senators not to confirm him. We need to insist that our President choose cabinet members who are concerned about the rights of the poor.
Here you can contact President Elect Trump,

I love our county and thank you for taking action.
Jill Shook

Jill Shook, Missions Door, Catalyst
Doctor of Ministry, Bakke Graduate School
Blog:  Website:
Author/Editor: Making Housing Happen: Faith Based Affordable Housing Models

Making sure that wall steet is in the drivers seat. Elizabeth Warren, “managed to participte in all the worse practices on Wall Steet.
Accused of descriminatry lending practices.

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