Written by Francis Taylor, Sentinel Staff Writer. See full article here.

Throughout our history there have been individuals whose wisdom, vision, and results-orientation help deliver some of us to a new level of consciousness. We recognize them when we listen to them speak, observe the measurable contributions they make towards our empowerment, and transfer their passion for our growth, or in the case of John Hope Bryant, our financial awareness, preservation, and freedom.

Bryant, chairman and founder of the global financial literacy organization, Operation HOPE and vice chairman of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, recently hosted several community-based meetings in Los Angeles to address the problems associated with the sub-prime lending market, tactics individuals may employ to save their homes, and legislative initiatives that are available to help those who may be ‘upside down’ with their current home mortgage.


As part of the HOPE Alliance Initiative, Bryant enlisted the aid of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as other notable elected officials, to welcome his distinguished, White House guest, the U.S. Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development, Alphonso Jackson, who delivered the keynote address at West Angeles Church of God In Christ, to a packed audience in Bishop Blake’s sprawling community room on Crenshaw Boulevard.

During Bryant’s opening and welcoming remarks, his passion for financial empowerment to those less-well endowed amongst us became immediately clear. Though he did not boast about his numerous awards, commendations, international accolades or the $400 million he raised from the private sector to empower the poor, there was no doubt that he is a man, as President Clinton described, who is “completely positive in his belief in the potential of poor people to prosper, with a ‘hand up and not a hand out.”

Pointing-out that none of us (African-Americans) know anyone with an incoming 800 telephone number, referring to creditors who persistently call to collect on delinquent loan and credit payments, Bryant indicated that you cannot have a rainbow without a storm suggesting that if you do not respond to those calls, the problem only gets worse.

“Sub-prime lending is not evil.” Bryant said, referring to the current crisis where Los Angeles has seen a 430 percent increase in home foreclosure rates. “There are irresponsible, financially illiterate and predatory sub-prime lenders, who must be addressed.”

During his presentation to the filled auditorium at one of our community’s most celebrated churches, Jackson, an expert on public housing and urban issues and a member of the Bush Administration since 2001 and the nation’s 13th Secretary of HUD since 2004, chose to visit our community of South Los Angeles for his important announcement about new Federal Housing Administration guidelines.

He announced that those who want or need a mortgage purchase loan or refinance may go as high as $720,000, which is more than a doubling of the FHA high limit lending guidelines, and is particularly significant for areas such as Los Angeles County and Orange County where average home prices are $500,000 and higher.

“I commend President George W. Bush and Secretary Jackson for making this happen.” Bryant said. “These new FHA guidelines have the potential of securing new mortgages for as many as 30,000 Californians and 250,000 homeowners nationwide.”

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