NJ Citizen Action Education Fund Holds Financial Reform Summit

Senator Bob Menendez, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Dean Baker join NJCAEF for day-long conference — Friday, September 21, 2012

Newark, NJ — Today in Newark, New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund (NJCAEF) was joined by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Senator Bob Menendez for its third annual Financial Regulatory Reform Summit. The Summit, titled From Dodd-Frank to Occupy and Everything In Between, featured panels and speakers covering a wide variety of topics from "Rebuilding the Economy" to "Tools for Combating the Foreclosure Crisis."

"We are proud to have such distinguished speakers join us to discuss the topics that are affecting working families throughout New Jersey," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of NJCAEF. "Whether it's combating the ongoing foreclosure crises, the status of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, or a discussion about rebuilding our economy, our annual Financial Reform Summit serves as a forum for policy-makers, advocates, students, housing counselors and financial industry representatives to come to the table and talk constructively about how to move our state and country forward."

"This is an important opportunity to talk about the issues that matter most to middle class families across our state," said Senator Menendez, one of the keynote speakers at the summit. "We passed Wall Street Reform and I will continue fighting to keep the "protection" in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. New Jersey homeowners are struggling with foreclosures and hurdles to refinancing, which is why I introduced the Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act which would allow more families to take advantage of today's historically low interest rates. We must continue to work for the middle class and do all we can to restore the American dream."

In addition to Senator Menendez's address, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan spoke to the over 150 community leaders, housing counselors, advocates, seniors and students in attendance about the progress being made in the national housing market, the challenges that many New Jersey families continue to face, and the policies that show promise for the future.

"Despite momentum we've seen in our national housing market, too many families in New Jersey are still hurting," said Secretary Donovan. "But with the servicing settlement helping thousands of New Jersey families keep their homes and the surge we've seen in refinancing from changes we made earlier this year, we're pushing back."

Dean Baker, Co-Director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who both addressed the crowd and moderated a panel on the status of the Dodd-Frank Act and the next phases for financial reform, wasn't as optimistic.

"The process of financial reform is at best half finished," said Baker. "We still have a badly bloated financial sector, with too big to fail banks. I doubt that anyone can say with confidence that we will not see another meltdown some time in the next two decades."

Salowe-Kaye, who presided over the summit, brought the crowd the facts surrounding New Jersey's ongoing housing crisis, and offered advice to the many advocates and policy-makers in attendance.

"While national indicators suggest that a housing recovery is in its early stages, New Jersey remains the state with the second highest number of foreclosures in the country and sits at the bottom of the list when it comes to getting the recovery money out to the homeowners who need it most," she said. "As the implementation of Financial Reform gets underway, consumers must begin to feel the direct benefits from clearer information and stronger protections on lending products. The law cannot be weakened."

Other panelists and speakers throughout the day included Julia Gordon, Director of Housing Finance & Policy at the Center for American Progress, Preston D. Pinkett, III, President and CEO of City National Bank of New Jersey, E. Robert Levy, Esq.,Executive Director of the Mortgage Bankers Association of NJ & PA, and Ed Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

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