The Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) is doling out $42 million in federal funding for housing counseling grants to 468 local, regional, and national organizations. Intended to prevent foreclosures and assist new home buyers, the grants will offer free assistance on foreclosure avoidance as well as educate buyers on how to rent or purchase a home. HUD alleges that beneficiaries of these services will help combat predatory lending practices, because buyers will be equipped with information to help them evade mortgage scams, high interest rates, and unreasonably high appraisals.

Goldman Sachs Corporation is facing a new wave of charges of not looking out for the interests of its clients this week, as one corporate vice president published a resignation March 14 letter in the New York Times and the company agreed March 13 to pay a $7 million fine to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Goldman Sachs stock took a hit on the two-pronged attack March 14, losing $2.2 billion in stock value with a three-percent plunge, though the stock recovered significantly the next day. 

As part of its Tribal Energy Program, the U.S. Department of Energy is providing $6.5 million to various American Indian tribes for “clean energy” projects — everything from solar and wind power to fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. This being government, however, the majority of the money will not be spent on actual projects but on studies to determine if projects are even feasible.

The report from The New York Times on Wednesday about the foreclosure settlement reached between five big banks and 49 states’ attorneys general made it appear that justice was being served. The $26 billion to be paid out to some 2 million homeowners (former and current) “could provide relief” to them under the terms of the settlement. It would also remove a cloud of uncertainty from the banks’ liability and might help in “halting the housing market’s downward slide.”

San Francisco, as even casual observers of the political scene know, is one of the most liberal cities in the country. Many of its citizens fear big business — but not big government — and speak lovingly of locally owned small businesses. Its Mayor, Edwin M. Lee, recently announced a $1.5-million fund to assist small businesses.

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