Public Meeting Transcripts
Public Meeting Regarding Fleet Financial Group, Inc., and BankBoston Corporation
Wednesday, July 7, 1999
Transcript of Panel Four
14 MS. CAMPBELL: My name is Joyce Campbell. 15 I am going to be reading Maude's testimony. As you 16 know, Maude Hurd is the National President of the 17 community organization ACORN. She couldn't be here 18 today because she had to work, as does a lot of our 19 members. She had asked, though, that maybe in the 20 future we could have this in the evening so that we 21 could better represent our membership. 22 Anyway, as you know, ACORN members have 23 fought redlining and mortgage discrimination all 24 across the country. We use the Home Mortgage 25 Disclosure Act and Community Reinvestment Act to 0103 1 negotiate innovative agreements with banks that 2 remedy past discrimination. Since we signed the 3 first of these agreements in 1985, the ACORN Housing 4 Program has worked with banks to put over 21,000 5 families into their own homes, valued at 1.53 6 billion dollars. ACORN's program has also generated 7 an additional $4 billion in low-income community 8 investment. 9 ACORN's housing program has won awards for 10 its success in helping low-income minority borrowers 11 successfully get and pay their mortgages. Our 12 agreements with banks include progressive 13 underwriting standards, intensive one-on-one housing 14 counseling and, whenever possible, below-market 15 interest rates. 16 Fleet signed an agreement to participate in 17 the ACORN Housing Program in 1995 when it bought 18 Shawmut Bank. The agreement covered Massachusetts 19 and Connecticut and has produced over 1,000 20 successful home buyers and more than $120 million in 21 mortgages. The program has also increased access to 22 home ownership for single parents, recent 23 immigrants, lower-income buyers and people who don't 24 qualify for traditional mortgage underwriting, 25 although they still pay their bills and they pay 0104 1 them on time. 2 The Fleet-ACORN partnership program and 3 programs like it have been crucial in bringing 4 capital and credit into low-income minority 5 neighborhoods. For most American homeowners it's 6 the single biggest source of wealth. It means the 7 difference between living paycheck to paycheck and 8 building equity for yourself and your family. 9 Home ownership is even more crucial for the 10 stability and economic growth of minority 11 communities. Minority homeowners hold 75 percent of 12 their wealth in home equity. The difference between 13 owning and renting is staggering for African- 14 Americans. The average black homeowner's net worth 15 is $48,300, while for the average renter it's only 16 $500. Home ownership helps the homeowner, but it 17 also helps the community. Homeowners are much more 18 likely than renters or landlords to protect and 19 improve their property. There's more stability and 20 less crime in neighborhoods of homeowner-occupied 21 homes and greater involvement in community and civil 22 activities of all kinds. 23 With the ACORN-Fleet agreement and others 24 like it, we were really starting to see a positive 25 shift in the rate of minority home ownership. In 0105 1 early and mid-'90s the percentage of growth of 2 minority home buyers was greater than that of whites 3 for the first time ever. These deals were helping 4 our Massachusetts and Connecticut neighbors achieve 5 the American dream of home ownership, while helping 6 Fleet gain significant market share in minority 7 lending. 8 But as the '90s draw to a close, we are 9 starting to see a downward trend in lending to 10 minority and low-income census tracts. As banks 11 like Fleet get bigger and less accountable to the 12 local communities, they walk away from innovative 13 programs and begin to use cookie-cutter formulas 14 that try to fit everyone into a white middle-class 15 ideal credit situation. 16 Sometimes they even get encouragement from 17 Washington, like the conservative Congress that's 18 trying to dismantle the Community Reinvestment Act. 19 If this merger proceeds, Fleet will be the 20 biggest mortgage player by far in Boston and 21 Bridgeport and many other cities across the 22 Northeast. When they turn their backs on the 23 programs that brought in 30 to 80 percent of their 24 minority lending business in recent years, they are 25 turning their backs on our communities. And let me 0106 1 tell you, without these kinds of programs, our 2 neighborhoods don't stand a chance. 3 If Fleet turns their back on the ACORN 4 program, their record in Boston is likely to go as 5 low as it has in other cities. Over the last ten 6 years Fleet has been showing an alarming trend. 7 Each time the bank merges, it decreases its 8 community reinvestment work. Fleet's CRA ratings 9 have been going down in recent years, even when the 10 banks they have acquired have a grade of 11 "Outstanding." It happened with Northstar in 1991 12 and NatWest in 1994. These banks were high-quality 13 community lenders, but since being acquired by 14 Fleet, they have gone down to "Satisfactory" to "Low 15 Satisfactory" range and slipping. 16 Our community cannot afford to have history 17 repeat itself, as Fleet swallows up yet another bank 18 without making concrete commitments, continue 19 lending in low income and minority neighborhoods. I 20 call upon the Federal Reserve to delay this merger 21 until Fleet can prove that it will meet its 22 investment obligations to our communities. Thank 23 you. (Applause) I did it all. 24 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Ms. Wilkerson on 25 behalf of Mr. Christian. 0107 1 MS. WILKERSON: Good morning. My name is 2 Angie Wilkerson and I am speaking on behalf of 3 Matthew Christian. 4 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Can you bring the 5 mike closer to you? 6 MS. WILKERSON: Good morning. I'm speaking 7 on behalf of Matthew Christian, and I'd just like to 8 put some things into proper perspective for myself. 9 As a member of ACORN, as a member of the community, 10 we began the program with Fleet many years ago. We 11 were the ones who implemented the lifeline banking. 12 We were the first to implement the first-time home 13 buyers program, and if Fleet walks away from this 14 program, it would be devastating to the community. 15 I'm asking Fleet to stand by your 16 commitment that you originated with us and step up 17 to the plate and do what you're supposed to do. If 18 you walk away, it will be so devastating for our 19 community, we will have more homeless people in 20 Massachusetts than we ever had. So please continue 21 your commitment and give us the commitment that we 22 need in our community. Thank you. (Applause) 23 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 24 much. Then we have Ms. Mustafa on behalf of Ms. 25 Thompson. 0108 1 MS. MUSTAFA: My name is Lunita Mustafa. 2 I'm a mother of six children and like Ms. Elnora 3 Thompson, I am divorced and I am a single parent. 4 I'd like to say on her behalf and on my behalf that 5 the struggle of raising children by yourself is not 6 easy, as we all know. But for the past five years 7 parents like myself have had ACORN Housing 8 Authority. We have had Massachusetts Affordable 9 Housing Alliance. We have had Mayor Menino. We 10 have had the CRA, Community Reinvestment Act. 11 Five years ago parents like myself were 12 coming out before people like yourself. We were 13 carrying pictures, and we were crying. We were 14 weeping for the death of our children to gangs, to 15 violence in our streets as the result of an unstable 16 community, of moving every year from place to place. 17 The burden on the children is every other 18 year you're the new kid on the block. Every other 19 year there's a new gang or there's a new territory 20 that you have to deal with or a new school that you 21 have to settle into. But for the past five years 22 we've had a chance to rest. And today I don't have 23 a picture of dead children. No. I have a picture 24 of my two oldest children out of my six, and I'd 25 like to show it to you. This is my daughter that 0109 1 just graduated from Bentley College. (Applause) 2 And this is my son, my 18-year-old that I have been 3 in fear when I see other parents bury their children 4 on the streets, and he just joined the U.S. Navy and 5 he's a medic. He just graduated boot camp and is 6 starting a school, his first year in medical school. 7 (Applause) This is what ACORN Housing, 8 Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance and Mayor 9 Menino have stood by me and supported me to help me 10 to bring this about. 11 And I am crying today because five years 12 ago there was a wild beast in our community and it 13 was devouring our children. And then today I hear 14 that they're going to unleash him and send him back 15 out there, and I still have four young children. I 16 have my home, I have my CRA home, but what about the 17 rest of the people around me? What if it becomes a 18 fast rental area again? 19 This is Fleet. My son is supporting this 20 flag. This is what the investment is bringing about 21 for Boston. This is what house Boston is bringing 22 about. This is the safe Boston. This is the 23 result. These are live children, and five years ago 24 somebody would have been crying for dead children. 25 I ask you, the Federal Reserve Board, 0110 1 you're a family. Please don't release the beast on 2 my community, on my children. That's what the 3 merger represents to us. That's what the merger 4 represents to Boston. Without the support of the 5 CRA, without ACORN Housing Corporation, without 6 Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance and all 7 the people that supported us, we don't stand a 8 chance. There is no muzzle for that beast. Thank 9 you. (Applause) 10 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Ms. Carter. 11 MS. CARTER: Can everyone hear me? 12 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Yes. 13 MS. CARTER: I just hope this morning that 14 God's will be done in this hearing, and before I 15 start, I can ask for his help. So Lord, let the 16 words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be 17 acceptable in your sight, in Jesus' name, amen. 18 Praise the Lord. 19 My name is Jennifer Carter. I have been 20 banking with BankBoston for many moons, over 20 21 years. I am very concerned about the aftermath of 22 the merger between Fleet and BankBoston. I'm 23 worried that they will cancel ACORN. After meeting 24 with them yesterday, they said that they will be 25 sitting down again with ACORN. But I am more 0111 1 concerned that this is just lip service. And that's 2 lip service. By turning their back on ACORN 3 program, Fleet is turning their back on our low- 4 income and minority community. 5 Have they forgotten that the ACORN Housing 6 Corporation borrowers made up over 30 percent of 7 Fleet's loans to low and moderate income 8 neighborhoods in 1996? Have they forgotten that 9 ACORN Housing helped Fleet increase their lending in 10 low-income neighborhoods by almost 90 percent 11 between 1995 and 1997? Have they forgotten ACORN 12 Housing is responsible for more than 50 percent of 13 BankBoston's loans to black and Latino borrowers in 14 1998 and responsible for 20 percent of BankBoston's 15 overall lending in that year? 16 I think that Fleet has forgotten that ACORN 17 has been -- has done -- excuse me. I think that 18 Fleet has forgotten what ACORN has done to help them 19 meet their obligation to the low-income and minority 20 community. But I would like to remind them again 21 today. If this merger goes forward and Fleet does 22 not renew its lending agreement with ACORN by August 23 1st, I, Jennifer Carter, will be closing my account 24 at BankBoston, and I will also be encouraging my son 25 to close his account at Fleet. And we, the members 0112 1 of ACORN -- raise your hands, ACORN. Praise the 2 Lord. And we, the members of ACORN, have already 3 collected several dozen letters from other community 4 residents in that they are going to close their 5 account as well. We will continue to collect these 6 letters throughout the summer. And I have some 7 letters here if you'd like us to submit that to you. 8 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Yes, please do 9 so. 10 MS. CARTER: So if Fleet is planning to 11 keep taking deposits from our community but stop 12 giving us loans, then we are going to cut their 13 credit line, too. (Applause) This is our way of 14 expressing our dissatisfaction with Fleet's 15 decision. They cannot continue to keep profiting 16 from our deposits without putting back into our 17 community. So that's why I'm here today, to bring 18 to the Federal Reserve's attention the urgency and 19 the dire need for this program, because it's all 20 about helping the low-income community to accomplish 21 the American dream. 22 Please do not rush your decision by 23 allowing this merger. I believe extra time is 24 needed for Fleet to meet with ACORN again as they 25 have promised. You cannot let this merger go 0113 1 forward if it means that Fleet is allowed to walk 2 away from its community reinvestment responsibility. 3 I realize that nothing can be accomplished 4 unless God allows it, so I'm praying for you that 5 the Lord will lead and guide you. Praise God. And 6 I want to encourage Fleet, gather up the frogmen. 7 Let nothing be lost. (Applause) 8 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Ms. Jacobs. 9 MS. JACOBS: Hello. My name is Gwendolyn 10 Jacobs and I am president of ACORN's New York 11 chapter. New York City has every bank there is. 12 There are so many corporate headquarters and there 13 are so much money changing hands, but not where I 14 live in Brownsville in Brooklyn. Where I live it is 15 hard to find a good bank. There weren't too many to 16 start with, and since they all started merging, 17 there are even fewer. Because of this, people in 18 neighborhoods like Brownsville don't have checking 19 accounts. They go to check-cashing stores. There's 20 no local branch of a respectable commercial bank to 21 ask for a loan, so instead we're prey to B and C 22 lenders. 23 Fleet has had dialogue with ACORN about the 24 banking problems faced by low and moderate income 25 people in New York, but they have not helped us 0114 1 address them. Before we had discussed doing any 2 programs with Fleet, we had a valuable relationship 3 with NatWest which gave good loans to minority 4 residents of New York. 5 ACORN had a highly successful underwriting 6 program and then we negotiated a mortgage program 7 offering loans at 1 percent below the market 8 interest rate. We were helping NatWest target 9 populations that were new to them, break into a 10 large, underserved Latino community and build 11 relationships with other community groups and with 12 local minority churches. 13 Then Fleet acquired them and it all ended. 14 We in the New York office were led on to believe 15 that these programs and our relationships would be 16 unaffected. At the time of the merger, they told us 17 that all that would change was the stationery. What 18 a lie. But after the acquisition was complete, we 19 were told that they didn't need our product; that 20 they were covered. 21 Well, we followed Fleet since then, and in 22 fact, they don't have coverage that matched the 23 NatWest programs that were in place. Fleet has been 24 terrible about providing communities with the 25 services prescribed by CRA. It's hard to provide 0115 1 services to a community when you don't have a branch 2 there. 3 In New York Fleet has 39 branches and four 4 of them are in predominantly Afro-American or Latino 5 communities. 6 New York State has a law that requires 7 banks to offer lifeline or basic banking accounts. 8 A few months ago when ACORN members went to these 9 four branches to ask about opening accounts, which 10 one of them happened to be my branch. They acquired 11 it from NatWest. When ACORN members went to these 12 four branches to ask about opening accounts, none of 13 them were told about the lifeline account. When 14 members asked about lifeline accounts, they were met 15 with blank stares. They were instead offered 16 accounts with a higher opening balance requirement 17 and unreasonable fees. 18 So ACORN went to Fleet so we could get this 19 fixed. The New York State law was on our side and 20 Fleet claimed to be on our side, too. We met with 21 them and asked them about their lifeline account. 22 We knew they offered it because it was in their 23 pamphlets. So why didn't the employees working in 24 their banks know about it? Why don't they advertise 25 it more, especially in the branches that serve the 0116 1 people who need it, like the law says they have to? 2 That was when Fleet told us about their 3 merger with BankBoston. They said they would make 4 sure that their employees knew before the basic 5 banking accounts and offered it more to customers. 6 They also said they would make posters for these 7 branches so people would not have to find mention of 8 the account in Fleet's pamphlet. They would know 9 about it just from standing in the bank. 10 Well, our members went back about one month 11 ago, and I went last Thursday, and still they were 12 not offering the lifeline account. Still you don't 13 find any posters either. Fleet has become an 14 example of the rich getting richer from the poor 15 getting poorer. With every merger they have made, 16 they have lost more interest in serving individuals. 17 People like me can't bring Fleet the money 18 that its corporate customers can, but we're not 19 making them lose money either. We pay our bills and 20 we pay our rent, in the same way we could pay a 21 mortgage that we can keep a checkbook. So I am 22 asking the Federal Reserve to carefully consider 23 Fleet's current merger. For every employee they 24 will lay off and every bank branch that will be 25 closed, there are hundreds of consumers who will 0117 1 have less access to banking services. In low and 2 moderate income neighborhoods we need more banks, 3 not richer ones. 4 If Fleet -- the only way I believe Fleet 5 will do anything, it would have to be memorialized. 6 They would have to put it in writing before the 7 merger and they would have to put the money where 8 their mouth is. (Applause) Put the money where 9 their mouth is. Saying it is not doing it, and 10 bigger does not necessarily mean better. Time has 11 proven that to me. 12 When they took over NatWest, the little 13 card they have for the ATM has little things like 14 little ships. Well, their ships are leaving out 15 lower and ours is coming back and we're filling them 16 up and we're getting poorer and they're sailing off 17 into the blue to the twin towers with the money. 18 (Applause) Financial Services Corporation, that's 19 where it's going. We're getting poorer and they're 20 getting richer. 21 That's unconscionable for them to merge and 22 get richer at the expense of the poor. And we are 23 the most underserved, deprived, non-served people 24 you ever saw, and they're using -- they talk about 25 they don't get anything from our money. Yes, they 0118 1 do. They get our money. They're using our money 2 while we're sleeping and we're leaving it in their 3 bank. We are their partners. They should think of 4 us as partners because they're using our money. 5 While we sleep our money is in their bank and 6 they're doing something with it overnight. Thank 7 you very much. (Applause) 8 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Ms. Brown. 9 MS. BROWN: My name is Lori Brown and I 10 live in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I recently 11 purchased my home through the Fleet-ACORN program. 12 Before that I was living in a small three-room 13 apartment as a single mother; couldn't really afford 14 to get a larger place with the income that I was 15 making, but I knew if I could purchase a two-family 16 home I would be able to use the rental income to 17 bring down my housing payment to a level I could 18 handle. But since I didn't have perfect credit and 19 I had recently become self-employed, even though I 20 made decent money, it wasn't possible to get a bank 21 to actually look at me seriously at that time. 22 The only one who really would look at my 23 situation was the Fleet program with ACORN. Thanks 24 to that program my child and I are living together 25 in our new home on a quiet street where lots of 0119 1 people are homeowners and really care about keeping 2 up their neighborhood. I own my own home today and 3 my daughter has a safe place to grow up because 4 Fleet agreed to look at my loan application when no 5 one else would. Through the ACORN Housing Program 6 Fleet didn't try to fit me into a cookie-cutter 7 pattern of what I was supposed to be. Fleet took a 8 closer look. 9 I also used to work for ACORN Housing 10 Corporation as a loan counselor and now I work very 11 closely with ACORN Housing Corporation as a realtor. 12 I have worked with them for several years and I have 13 experienced how Fleet takes a closer look. 14 Most banks these days are using credit 15 scoring to decide if they want to make a loan. They 16 ask everyone the same questions and run the same 17 credit report, send all these numbers to someplace 18 to compute them and they come back with a yes or no. 19 In our low and moderate income neighborhoods, 20 especially in Bridgeport, it was mostly no. But the 21 ACORN and Fleet partnership took a closer look. 22 They looked at things that don't go into a credit 23 score, but that make a world of difference in your 24 application. They looked at my plan to use the 25 income for my renting out one apartment in a 0120 1 two-family home to help me pay my mortgage. They 2 looked at how I had a great record of paying my rent 3 and paying my other bills on time and how I had 4 cleaned up my credit issues. 5 Through the ACORN Housing Program Fleet 6 took a closer look at why a lot of other people from 7 Connecticut in low and moderate-income communities 8 weren't able to get loans. For example, there's a 9 lot of people who were paying very high rents. If 10 you can afford to pay your rent and afford to pay 11 your bills and put food on the table, but not 12 necessarily have a whole lot of money left over to 13 put into the bank, and with Fleet they had all types 14 of flexibility with how much money you had to come 15 up with, and they really took a closer look at 16 having non-traditional credit issues, among other 17 things. 18 And when they worked with the ACORN 19 program, Fleet also took a closer look at being a 20 team player, which is something you really don't see 21 today with a lot of things. While they're 22 processing the mortgage applications and 23 underwriting them, the people who are processing 24 them will call if there are any problems. So if it 25 looked like a problem with an application, instead 0121 1 of just denying it and not looking further into it, 2 they will call ACORN and work with them to work 3 through the issues and get people the mortgages that 4 they were seeking. 5 They took a closer look at my community and 6 we needed the help and we were glad to get it. 7 That's why ACORN Housing did almost 300 loans with 8 Fleet in 1996 in Connecticut. These loans have 9 worked. I know I am paying my mortgage payment 10 every month and on time and almost every one of the 11 clients that I counseled during that time period is 12 doing the same. We haven't heard any complaints 13 from Fleet about the loans or about our clients. 14 So when I heard that Fleet was going to 15 walk away from the partnership, I was very 16 surprised. I am asking Fleet to stop and take a 17 closer look now. Fleet's partnership with ACORN 18 Housing accounted for more than 66 percent of the 19 loans to blacks and Latinos in Bridgeport in 1996 20 and almost 80 percent of the loans to blacks and 21 Latinos in Stamford and Norwalk. In other words, 22 out of a total of 142 loans to blacks and Latinos in 23 Bridgeport in 1996, ACORN Housing's partnership with 24 Fleet was responsible for 94 loans. Once more, 25 ACORN Housing accounted for 50 percent of Fleet's 0122 1 conventional loans to all buyers in each of these 2 cities, 50 percent of all buyers, and in 1997 ACORN 3 Housing Program was responsible for over 60 percent 4 of Fleet's lending to blacks and Latinos, again in 5 Bridgeport, and 55 percent of lending to blacks and 6 Latinos. 7 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Could you wrap 8 up, Ms. Brown? 9 MS. BROWN: Yes. I would like to wrap up 10 by saying, please take a closer look. Fleet should 11 not be allowed to increase their size without 12 increasing their community commitment, and I'm 13 asking that you oppose the merger. (Applause) 14 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Next we have Mr. 15 Collazo on behalf of Ms. Mateo. 16 MR. COLLAZO: Yes. Hi. How are you doing? 17 I'm here on behalf of Mrs. Mateo. I happen to be 18 her counselor. I worked with her for quite a while 19 before she became a homeowner. Just last week she 20 managed to close the deal. So she's basically a 21 homeowner thanks to the Fleet-ACORN Program. 22 She always wanted to be a homeowner and she 23 worked hard to save the few bucks that she had 24 extra. She budgeted herself and finally she reached 25 the point where she managed to save enough money for 0123 1 a downpayment. Her husband was struggling with 2 illness which required surgery. 3 Basically what has happened after that, 4 after the surgery, other bills started accumulating 5 and Ms. Mateo was left with the responsibility of 6 paying all the finances and basically paying all the 7 bills. 8 When Ms. Mateo came to our program I worked 9 very hard with her to get her ready for the 10 responsibilities of home ownership. I knew there 11 was Fleet available for her, so I started working 12 with her to make sure she was ready to meet all the 13 criteria. No other bank would touch this loan by 14 looking at all the other issues that took effect 15 after the incident with her husband. So after 16 carefully taking care of all the outstanding debts 17 and all the bills that were left over from the 18 incident, Ms. Mateo managed to basically regain her 19 own funds and come up with a downpayment. 20 So basically what it comes down to is 21 because of Fleet and ACORN Housing, the partnership 22 that we had, they managed to become first-time home 23 buyers. You have to keep in mind without this 24 program, there will be no more Ms. Mateos around to 25 basically take advantage of such a great program 0124 1 like ours. 2 I am asking you please do not approve this 3 merger without requiring Fleet to come to some 4 agreement that they're still going to help these low 5 and moderate income people that ordinarily would not 6 be able to go elsewhere. This program was her only 7 chance and it was the only chance for many others as 8 well. Thank up (Applause) 9 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Then we have Ms. 10 Miller for Ms. Blain. 11 MS. MILLER: Okay. I'm speaking for Rose 12 Blain. She lives in Mattapan and she says, "I am 13 working with ACORN and Fleet to buy my own home in 14 Brockton. For a long time I wanted to buy a house, 15 but I didn't believe that I could. I got 16 information about ACORN from a meeting in Fields 17 Corner in Dorchester and I decided to participate in 18 the program. The ACORN loan counselor, Robert 19 Davis, helped me to check my husband's credit, my 20 pay stub, my income tax and my bills. I work 21 full-time and many night shifts as a nursing 22 assistant in a hospital pediatric ward. Even though 23 my income is only $22,000 a year, ACORN's program 24 with Fleet Bank gave me the flexibility to have a 25 low downpayment and a good mortgage rate. 0125 1 I was able to get a prequalifying letter 2 for a house based partly on my plan to rent out a 3 floor to another family. The house I am trying to 4 buy is in Brockton. I will be living there with my 5 husband and four kids. It is my dream to own my own 6 home and be my own boss. 7 Even with ACORN's program it has taken me 8 two years to be ready to buy a home. Without this 9 program a lot of people will miss the opportunity to 10 have their dream. To me it is horrible that Fleet 11 is hurting so many people who would like to get a 12 house. I want many families to get the same 13 opportunity that we did working with ACORN and 14 Fleet. There's an old saying: If it ain't broke, 15 don't fix it. Well, this program ain't broke, so 16 please don't take it away from the people who need 17 it. I urge you to renew the ACORN Housing Program 18 because it works and to stop the merger. 19 On a personal note, six years ago I lost my 20 home due to a bad loan and a bad house; okay? I had 21 no credit. But a good income, and the original loan 22 that I tried to obtain from a regular bank, I got 23 turned down, so I had to go to a shyster loan 24 company. My loan was 16 percent interest and my 25 note was $2,000 a month. After a few years I lost 0126 1 everything. 2 But a sister program to ACORN helped me to 3 rebuild my life and start over again. Without the 4 program and the training to give me the tools that I 5 wouldn't run into the same problems again and the 6 loan through the CRA Act, I would not have been able 7 to get another home for my family for at least 8 another 10 or 15 years; okay? 9 So ACORN works. Megamergers do not. And 10 we urge you today to please stop the merger, renew 11 ACORN and help us to keep our community going and 12 our cities on line. Thank you. (Applause) 13 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 14 much. Any questions from the panel? 15 MS. BROWNE: I was a little unclear. Has 16 Fleet said they will not renew their relationship 17 with ACORN? Is it just up in the air? If they have 18 said that they will not renew, have they given any 19 indication why? Is it because BankBoston is sort of 20 handling community affairs? I was a little unclear 21 whether this is something that's up in the air or 22 you have some reason to believe -- 23 MS. CAMPBELL: No, it's not up the air at 24 all. They said as of July 1st the program ends. 25 They walked away from the negotiation table. They 0127 1 have said since then a week ago at a meeting that 2 Marge was at and I was at, they said, oh, yeah, we 3 plan on setting up a meeting, you know, we have such 4 a good partnership. But we haven't heard from them. 5 They had a meeting yesterday, a community 6 meeting that we weren't invited to, but we found out 7 about, so we went anyway, and they said, oh, yeah, 8 we're going to meet with you next week. But I doubt 9 if that's anything concrete that we can -- you know, 10 it's up to you guys to make sure that they sit down 11 with us. I mean, if you just let them say I will 12 and wait for them to do it, I don't think it's going 13 to happen. (Applause) 14 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Thank you very 15 much. We are going to take a five-minute break 16 instead of a ten-minute break. So I'll see you here 17 very soon. 18 (Short recess) 19 PRESIDING OFFICER SMITH: Would you 20 identify yourself, please, for the record.
Last update: December 3, 2010