"The HUD-approved counseling agencies this funding supports are crucial in helping struggling families on a one-to-one basis to manage their money, navigate the homebuying process, and secure their financial futures," asserted HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Housing counseling works for families that are in need, but also for entire neighborhoods and our housing market more broadly."
The funding stems from the fiscal 2012 budget that reinstated HUD-approved counseling services after Congress slashed such funding in 2011. According to HUD, the funding supplements the $2.5 billion supplied to states for housing programs as an extension of the federal government’s $25-billion mortgage servicing settlement.
A handful of those "HUD-approved" organizations include high-profile liberal activist groups. One of the organizations, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) — which in Spanish means "the Race" — harvested roughly $1.7 million from the federal housing agency. The largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group in the nation, the NCLR works on a myriad of social and economic issues pertaining to the Hispanic community, including labor, housing, education, and healthcare.
But most consequential is the group’s stance on immigration policy, and the LaRaza website indicates that it supports an amnesty program: "Restoring order by getting the 12 million undocumented people in our country to come forward, obtain legal status, learn English, and assume the rights and responsibilities of citizenship..."
Republicans and anti-illegal immigration organizations have branded NCLR as a radical group that has, at times, harbored potent anti-American sentiments. In April 2011, a highly contentious ethnic studies program in a Tucson school district revealed the group’s radical ideology:
Yesterday a Tucson Unified School District board meeting was scheduled to discuss making the La Raza Studies, or the Race Studies, an elective in public schools rather than banning the program all together. The "ethnic studies" program was banned earlier this year because of the material being taught in the program. Instructors of the Raza Studies, also known as Mexican-American Studies, teach students that Arizona belongs to Mexico, [and] to throw over the U.S. government to take back that land.
Another progressive organization, the National Community Reinvestment Corporation (NCRC), raked in about $2.5 million in HUD grants. The NCRC is an activist group that dedicates its assets to countering alleged discrimination in housing and mortgage lending, and is a staunch supporter of strengthening enforcement of the federal Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) — including extending the CRA’s authority to securities firms, large credit unions, and mortgage and insurance companies.
The NCRC applauded President Obama’s efforts to allow homeowners to refinance Federal Housing Administration-insured loans at lower rates. "President Obama's plan to allow FHA insured borrowers to refinance their loans at a reduced fee is another positive step toward repairing the damage to the economy from the housing crisis," NCRC President and CEO John Taylor said in a March 6 press release. "The President's increased leadership on this issue is a very encouraging sign. But the biggest issue facing the housing market is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not writing down loans. Until that happens, the President's initiatives will have a positive but modest impact."
A third group, the National Urban League — a civil rights organization that works on behalf of the African-American community — collected more than $1 million in HUD funding. As is the case with the NCLR and NCRC, the Urban League is a chief supporter of the liberal cause. For instance, the group is a member of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a gun-control advocacy organization.
Moreover, the Urban League recently railed against Republican lawmakers for voter-ID laws, referring to the initiatives as an attack on democracy. "We are under attack," asserted Urban League CEO and President Marc Morial, "and we have got to occupy the vote and push back these voter suppression laws."
In the past, Obama has expressed a sentiment indicating his "indebtedness" to the Urban League. In fact, in an August 2008 campaign speech, Obama offered tribute to the group for purportedly making his 2008 candidacy a reality:
I stand here before you today feeling no small amount of gratitude. Because I know that my story, and so many other improbable stories, would not be possible without all that the Urban League has done to put opportunity within reach of every American. It's because of the doors you've opened, because of the battles you've fought and won, because of the sacrifices of people in this room and all those who came before you, that I come here today as a candidate for President of the United States of America.