All of us who have purchased a home, know that it is a lot of work, requires a lot of knowledge and more than anything it requires access to resources and good financial planning. Without these and other key considerations, many people end-up in foreclosures.
In recent months, as part of the Newcomer Project that we undertook in partnership with the Northfield CAC, I have been putting together a plan with projects that deliver key elements of this program. The “green homes” project that I blogged about recently is one of them.
Another key project to deliver on the path to integration of the local Latino community in Northfield is related to home ownership, minorities still lag behind in this aspect of economic integration though it is recognized as a key aspect of healthy communities.
So where would one start to address the many complex and important issues associatd with learning the process, understanding the challenges and finding homes that fit the economic profile of many of the local Latino families?
One key step I know applies for all cases weather we are experts or new to an issue, is to ask for help. So, last Friday, I went to Saint Paul to meet with folks who know this work and have done it well for a long time.
The story is more complex, I was looking for help but help came to me through an e-mail from Susan Jackson, of American Dream Services, she lives in Northfield but works in St. Paul and was interested in offering this kind of training here in our area. I had information that Maritza Mariani was an Associate director of the Neighborhood Development Alliance in St. Paul and that their reputation in this area is among the best, but Susan was already talking with Maritza about this issue, so when her e-mail came, I was ready to move on the issue.
We met last Friday at American Dreams office in St. Paul and are now moving forward to put together a series of home ownership education trainings in Northfield. I will be posting new blogs on this project as there are many issues to cover, from predatory lending to what comes after the workshops, for now I feel that having these top notch team behind us is a solid start.
Last week, the Strib reprinted a column by Los Angeles Times’ Gregory Rodriguez titled Diversity may not be the answer: Just existing together won’t erase mistrust; instead, we should work toward creating an identity that includes everyone. (The Strib used the headline and tagline: Together, apart: A dissection of diversity – People in the most diverse areas are the most likely to withdraw — even from those with whom they have much in common.)
Ethnic diversity is increasing in most advanced countries, driven mostly by sharp increases in immigration. In the long run immigration and diversity are likely to have important cultural, economic, fiscal, and developmental benefits. In the short run, however, immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital.
New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer. In the long run, however, successful immigrant societies have overcome such fragmentation by creating new, cross-cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustrations of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institutions, and earlier waves of American immigration.
Q What are the biggest challenges to getting two cultural groups to understand each other?
A I believe the biggest challenge comes out of the poverty aspect. People are working two shifts. How do you have time to engage in other things? This poverty … doesn’t just stop with the families. It goes to the businesses, it goes to the kids, it comes all the way around to the parents, in terms of connectedness to the school, it goes to the education. It’s just amazing. Sometimes we think of it in terms of eating three meals a day, but that’s just the tip.
I’ve spoken to almost 200 Latinos, and there isn’t a single one who won’t come to a meeting. But I can only get three or four together at a given time. I’m not here to run a show. I’m here to organize a grassroots response to integration and poverty.
Regi talked with us about the Center’s mission to help Northfield “capitalize on the larger economic opportunity created through the growth in the local Latino population.” He also discussed plans for a Latino Civic Engagement Center.
I met with Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin at the Rueb yesterday afternoon (click photo to enlarge), getting up to speed on his plan to create a Latino enterprise/economic development center for the area — and trying to convince him to join the blogosphere, natch.
I contacted Bob Kuyper and asked him for some details on the Las Delicias closing that I blogged about last week. He emailed me back an attached Word doc, which I’ve converted to a PDF and uploaded here.