The Opportunity Zone tax break is likely to exacerbate the affordable housing crisis and displace residents of color and lower-income residents while rewarding rich real estate investors with a lucrative tax break, according to a new report by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Institute, Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, Kansas City Tenants, and New York Communities for Change.
The Opportunity Zone (O-Zone) tax break was created by the 2017 Republican tax cut legislation. It was promoted as a way to incentivize investment in economically disadvantaged areas but it is marred by poor design and flawed implementation so that it will most likely provide tax breaks for investments in already booming cities and gentrifying neighborhoods. The program incentivizes investments that aim to maximize returns in lower-income areas where residents are vulnerable to economic displacement pressures.
The Securities and Exchange Commission should create new disclosure requirements that would allow investors to analyze how companies are acting to protect workers, prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, and responsibly use any federal aid they receive, according to a letter signed by more than 98 investors, state treasurers, public interest groups, labor unions, asset managers and securities law experts.
The only plausible reason to hide information about the small-business relief program, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced, is that the Trump administration wants to hide who is or is not getting help, and to what extent it is working.
Consumer advocates slammed the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for its final rule issued today that encourages online non-bank lenders to launder their loans through banks so they can offer high-cost triple-digit loans in states where such loans are illegal. The rules were strongly opposed by a bipartisan group of attorneys general as well as by numerous community, consumer, civil rights, faith and small business organizations, and may face legal challenges.
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, black homeownership was already at historically low levels nationwide and the racial wealth gap was widening, leaving communities of color with far less wealth and fewer resources for emergencies. COVID-19 has been particularly devastating for African-Americans, low-income families, and immigrants, who are bearing the brunt of the resulting economic fallout as well.
In place of a heartless free market of panicked investors who might want to cut their losses and sell, the plan is to simulate real buying and selling of financial products like mortgages and bonds with directed deployments of the Fed’s endless trillions. And they will be endless … Marcus Stanley of Americans for Financial Reform said, “The Fed’s perspective on this is, they want to create normalcy.” But what does “normal” mean in an economy that may be changed forever?
Americans of all partisan identities, and across all regions of the United States, strongly support enacting new consumer protections on high-interest lending during the coronavirus crisis. Americans are highly supportive of prohibiting all high-interest loans during the crisis and of capping interest rates for consumer loans, according to a new bipartisan poll from Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting.