National Thought Leaders Join International Author at FDR Library, April 30

In the book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, author Richard Rothstein documents how American cities became racially divided as federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential segregation using tactics like:
  • Undisguised racial zoning
  • Public housing that segregated previously mixed communities
  • Subsidies for builders to create white-only suburbs
Following the author’s presentation, national and regional thought leaders address the prevailing atmosphere and possible solutions to end racial inequality and poverty in housing. The panel includes:

Richard Rothstein is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a Senior Fellow, emeritus, at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). He is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America (2017). The book recovers a forgotten history of how federal, state, and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide, creating racially homogeneous neighborhoods in patterns that violate the Constitution and require remediation. He is also the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008) and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (2004).

Maurice A. Jones took the helm as the fourth President & CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in September 2016. Immediately prior to joining LISC, he served as the secretary of commerce for the Commonwealth of Virginia, where he managed 13 state agencies focused on the economic needs in his native state. He previously served as deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) overseeing operations for the agency and its 8,900 staff members. Prior to that, he was commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Social Services and deputy chief of staff to former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. Trained as an attorney, Maurice worked during the Clinton Administration on legal, policy and program issues at the Treasury Department, where he also helped manage a then-new initiative called the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) fund—a federal program that has grown to be a critical supporter of nonprofits that leverage its capital to bolster their communities.

KT Tobin is Associate Director of the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz, and is focused on projects about regional issues and concerns. Prior to returning to SUNY New Paltz in 2008, she was the Assistant Director at the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. Tobin holds an M.S. in Social Research from CUNY Hunter and a Ph.D. in Sociology from SUNY Albany. Her dissertation research, titled “Gender: Impacts on Participation in Local Government,” studies elected women in the Mid-Hudson region. Tobin currently serves on the SUNY New Paltz Economic Impact research team. In the community, Tobin currently serves as Deputy Mayor of the Village of New Paltz, and served on the Village Affordable Housing Board.

Lorraine Y. Collins is Director of Public Policy and External Affairs at Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. in New York. Lorraine is responsible for working with the office’s Executive Team and Program Leaders to build and effectively execute a public-policy strategy to address affordable housing and community development issues across the New York Market. Lorraine also oversees the Office’s advocacy and lobbying activities, as well as its communications function. Prior to joining Enterprise, Lorraine spent over a decade in NYS government working on affordable housing policy at NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and the Division of Budget. Lorraine played a critical role in the State’s fair housing planning efforts by launching HCR’s Fair and Equitable Housing Office.  Additionally, at HCR Lorraine served as a Regional Director and Policy Advisor, leading efforts to address affordable housing and community development needs in areas such as health and housing, resilience, education, and employment inequalities. Lorraine also had a five-year career in the private sector, working as a financial analyst at Carrier Corporation. Lorraine received her BBA in Accounting from Howard University and her MBA and MPA from Syracuse University.

Moderator Rutledge Simmons is Executive Vice President, General Counsel/Secretary of NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit providing technical and financial assistance to a network of community development organizations. He has served as Chair of an ABA Committee on Community Economic Development, a member of the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, and on the boards of nonprofits combating homelessness. He is interested in new ways to foster comprehensive community development via social enterprises and public/private partnerships. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School.  

The Color of Law, April 30

Color of Law invitationJoin us in the Milstein Auditorium at the historic Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum for a conversation addressing housing equity, wealth, segregation, and public policy. 

Author Richard Rothstein shares his perspective from his research and book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. A panel of national and regional thought leaders follows; a book-signing wine & cheese reception ends the evening.

Tickets cost $25, or $50 with an author-autographed book

Sponsorships are available now through March 31.

Agenda for Tuesday April 30, 2019 2 – 6:30 p.m.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He lives in California, where is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California–Berkeley.

Racial segregation characterizes every metropolitan area in the U.S. and bears responsibility for our most serious social and economic problems – it corrupts our criminal justice system, exacerbates economic inequality, and produces large academic gaps between white and African American schoolchildren. We’ve taken no serious steps to desegregate neighborhoods, however, because we are hobbled by a national myth that residential segregation is de facto—the result of private discrimination or personal choices that do not violate constitutional rights. The Color of Law demonstrates, however, that residential segregation was created by racially explicit and unconstitutional government policy in the mid-twentieth century that openly subsidized whites-only suburbanization in which African Americans were prohibited from participating. Only after learning the history of this policy can we be prepared to undertake the national conversation necessary to remedy our unconstitutional racial landscape.

Richard Rothstein’s book, The Color of Law, published in 2017, is subtitled “A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” In his book, Rothstein lays out the systemic discrimination embedded in the policies of our federal government, largely commencing with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs that created de jure segregation. Chief among these New Deal measures was the creation of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1934, largely to insure bank mortgages. The FHA Underwriting Manual, first issued in 1935, contained a “whites only” requirement and the following language: “If a neighborhood is to retain stability it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes.” In 1944, FDR created the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to serve the returning WWII veterans. The VA would provide many services including making mortgages to returning vets. The VA adopted the FHA Underwriting Manual. Officially codified in the federal government, racial discrimination in homeownership and public housing became the law of the land.

For many of us in the non-profit housing sector, the book was a revelation and a conundrum – how much of this forgotten history did we know? If we didn’t know it as well as we should, then surely our colleagues working in government, the private and non-profit sectors, didn’t either. Still today, the effects of these federal policies are widespread and endemic. The resulting disparity in homeownership rates was a key factor in wealth inequality that developed in America throughout the 20th Century. The median net worth of whites typically averages over ten times the net worth for Blacks or Hispanics and much of this inequality stems from federal discriminatory housing policy. According to the Pew Research Center, the variance was 13x greater in 2013 as the median net worth for Whites was $141,000 compared to Blacks at $11,000.


RUPCO Expands Executive Leadership; Adds Chief Strategy Officer

Ernesto Vigoreaux of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY adds Depth and Experience to Nonprofit’s Real Estate Development Team

RUPCO appointed Ernesto J. Vigoreaux to a newly created position of Chief Strategy Officer earlier this month. Vigoreaux will oversee RUPCO’s real estate development activities; evaluate and assist with mergers and acquisitions; lobby government and regulatory bodies for support; and execute and implement RUPCO’s strategic plan. He brings over 20 years of affordable housing and community economic development experience from his work in Los Angeles, New York City, and the Midwest.
“We are thrilled to have Ernesto join our leadership team at RUPCO,” said Kevin O’Connor, CEO. “Ernesto has significant experience in developing over $400 million of real estate and he will now oversee RUPCO’s expanding real estate development portfolio across the Hudson River Valley. Ernesto brings broad experience, having served large and culturally diverse nonprofits, wearing many hats including Chief Operating Officer. In addition to his real estate development experience, Ernesto has played critical roles in developing social enterprises, supportive housing for persons with special needs, lending programs in the nonprofit sector, and has experience working on both coasts and middle America too! I am excited for the opportunity to work -with Ernesto as RUPCO implements a new five-year strategic plan and we embark on many impactful projects and programs.”
Prior to joining RUPCO, Vigoreaux was Chief Development Officer with Asian Americans For Equality’s (AAFE) Hardesty Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, an affiliate in Kansas City, MO. He oversaw the redevelopment of a 20-acre, formerly vacant brownfield military site known as the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot. Over the course of three years, AAFE planned adaptive re-use for the campus as a community economic development project that would clean the brownfield contamination; create opportunities for local ownership to rehab its 1.2 million square feet of building space; and transform the site into a place for small business retail and entrepreneurship, community services, education, and jobs. As Chief Operating Officer of AAFE, also a NeighborWorks America organization, Vigoreaux was responsible for operational management, as well as negotiating joint-venture partnerships such as One Flushing, a $110 million mixed-use project with Monadnock Development to construct 231 apartments of affordable housing, with community facility space, commercial retail, and underground parking in Flushing, Queens. He led the development of two EB-5 regional centers in New York City and Kansas City, to solicit foreign investments into CDC-led, mission-driven projects requiring an infusion of private equity.
“I am excited to join the dynamic team at RUPCO and hope that my unique experiences and perspectives of working on innovative projects with various multi-ethnic and low-income community partners may meaningfully contribute to RUPCO’s transformational work as it continues to expand affordable housing, homeownership, and economic opportunities throughout the Hudson River Valley and its growing diverse population,” notes Vigoreaux. “My development philosophy is centered on equity and inclusion, employing thoughtful strategy, collaboration, creativity and partnerships in order to redirect the necessary capital investments and funding resources to places that need it most for the greatest impact.”
Prior to AAFE, Vigoreaux served as Director of Housing Development for Comunilife, Inc. in Manhattan, one of the largest NYC HRA partner agencies and provider of supportive housing and health care services for low-income New Yorkers. While there, he developed Prospect Macy, a 60-unit supportive residence for seniors and persons with HIV/AIDS. Another notable project included over 50 apartments of congregate and transitional housing for persons living with mental illness and HIV/AIDS and a community healthcare center known as the Vida Guidance Center in the Bronx. Prior to joining Comunilife, Vigoreaux was a consultant with the Hudson Planning Group in Manhattan’s Financial District, where he provided project management, real estate development and construction consulting services to various nonprofits citywide developing supportive and affordable housing for persons with HIV/AIDS. He has also consulted for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific Community Development, providing fundraising and annual conference planning support. Previously, as Director of Housing Development with Housing Options and Geriatric Association Resources (HOGAR), he oversaw the development of over 60 units of permanent and transitional housing for persons with HIV/AIDS and severe and persistent mental illness in the South Bronx.
Vigoreaux began his career in 1998 as Director of Housing Development for the Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) in Los Angeles, where he worked on affordable housing development; helped victims of human trafficking; and assisted in the creation of Thai Town in East Hollywood, a place-making neighborhood revitalization initiative that promoted tourism, while also providing a voice of representation for the Thai community.
Vigoreaux has served on the Board of Asian Americans for Equality and the Puerto Rican Alliance of Los Angeles. He earned his Master of Urban Planning degree with a specialization in community development from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University Los Angeles. He is also a graduate of NeighborWorks America’s Achieving Excellence Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. He lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, (Westchester County, NY) with his wife and two children.
#BSM (Black Stories Matter)

Black Stories Matter photo collage

#BlackStoriesMatter raises our social conscience about people, perspective, and life. Spearheaded by The TMI Project, we’re honored to partner on this collaborative effort, pulling together our regional narrative to expand our understanding of each other, our differences, but most importantly, about our commonalities.

The next free workshop is:
Sunday, April 2 3-5 p.m.
The Kirkland, 2 Main Street, Kingston
Hosted by RUPCO, Citizen Action of New York and The TMI Project
RSVP online here or through the Facebook event page where you can share the event with friends, too. This workshop is free and light refreshments will be shared.

Read a few personal recollections from #BlackStoriesMatter storytellers here. Help spread the word and become a #BlackStoriesMatters partner (it’s free).

Attend the upcoming #BlackStoriesMatter performance on Saturday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Pointe of Praise Church, 243 Hurley Avenue, Kingston. Admission is free but RSVP here to guarantee yourself a seat.

Write your own story! Attend the upcoming writer’s workshops or submit your story online here. We’re hosting a writing workshop in the coming months at The Kirkland. Join our mailing list to find out when the next workshop is. In the meantime, let’s talk to each other, learn about each other, help each other…let’s tell stories because our stories matter.