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.  

Building Blocks of Change

Colorful Building blocks of change blogI grew up privileged. I always had ample food, clothing, resources and quality education from prestigious grade schools as well as colleges. I never had to worry if my parents could afford an unexpected expense, such as a doctor’s visit or replace a new electronic item that my brother, sister or I might have broken.

However, my father and both grandparents grew up in poverty. They experienced firsthand what the throes of destitution without familial support. Fortunately, they were able to work to where they are now, which includes having a steady income and being able to raise a family in comfortable means. However, this does not mean that people who can’t climb out of the cycle of poverty are lazy or undetermined to make a change for the better. Maybe they are missing the opportunity of a new job promotion because they have children to take care of during those hours of interview or work. Or maybe they don’t have a strong support system to fall back on for help. Maybe motivation just isn’t in the picture because circumstances have depressed their efforts to look for alternative solutions to save money or to search for better-paying jobs.

I haven’t experienced this type of traumatic situation, but I do know how it feels to live on a smaller budget that easily runs out if I spend a few dollars more on laundry for this week. Going to college, I made a personal goal to only spend the money I earned on rent, food, gas, and travel. This new habit cost me much more than I would have imagined—not just my finite cash source, but the emotional energy to hold back from spending money on needed expenses, such as healthy food for breakfast, versus spending money on fast food trips and unhealthy options. Being prudent for the first time in my life definitely robbed me of pleasures that I now consider luxuries. This spend-thrift habit enlightened me on what it means to work hard for money and not being able to save or spend. This lack created an endless worry over finances and fear of the black vortex of indebtedness.

Coming out of my senior year of college, I was determined to help others and make a difference in the world, but I wasn’t sure which career path to take in order to do so. The VISTA program was my opportunity to see other’s lifestyles and gain a humbling perspective of what it means to live in poverty without the fallback of family or savings. As I am making my way up into the economic and business world, I am doing so alongside the people I am served. It’s is amazing to hear about the challenges and milestones that are now a part of RUPCO’s family history, such as Give Housing a Voice community response to Woodstock Commons resistance. During my time here, I hope my writing offers you a peak through into the gems of what would otherwise remain undiscovered in RUPCO’s large network, and to give a voice to individuals with incredible stories to tell. Though I can’t provide the homes or make sweeping decisions that determines program eligibility, I can write our people’s narratives to promote awareness. That is often enough to set in place building blocks of change.

Monique Tranchina is an AmeriCorps VISTA member and RUPCO’s editorial assistant. A SUNY New Paltz graduate, Monique holds a Bachelors in English, a concentration in Creative Writing and minor in Theater. Look for more storytelling from her in the coming year.