Thursday, April 26, 2018

Associate Professor Jerry Anthony and two students, Reuben Grandon and Emily Legel, recently attended the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. The conference is typically held in March but this year it corresponded with the 50th anniversary of the National Fair Housing Act on April 9th-11th. This year’s theme was a “Just Economy.” The first two days were filled with sessions the students found very valuable.

Grandon elected to attend the conference to get exposure to people who are decision makers in fair housing and fair credit, as well as those who are working with marginalized populations. He found most of the audience to be in the banking industry but also many who work in non-profits such as churches, community development corporations, home repair programs, civil rights organizations, aging in place professionals, those working toward foreclosure prevention, racial justice proponents. Some of the most well-known presenters that Grandon was able to hear included Rev. Dr. Jesse Jackson and Vanita Gupta, previous Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and acting head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Both Legel and Grandon found the conference very worthwhile and beneficial as it exposed them to other players in the planning process that are often not discussed very thoroughly in courses, especially those centered around financial services, economic equity and social justice. They came away with a more holistic view of urban planning. Legel described learning a more expansive definition of nonprofits and of all the different types of players to get on board when proposing new community development projects, from banks to local businesses to nonprofits and community investment coalitions.

The third day of the conference was spent on Capitol Hill meeting with Iowa’s Senators to discuss the importance of community reinvestment and making sure everyone has access to banking services regardless of income or geographical location. Legel was able to personally meet Senator Chuck Grassley and she and Anthony met with the staff of Senators Joni Ernst and Dave Loebsack.


Pictured in front of the U.S. Capitol Building are, left to right: Rev. Abraham L. Funchess, Jr., Executive Director of the Waterloo (Iowa) Commission on Human Rights; Emily Legel, first-year master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning; and Jerry Anthony, Urban and Regional Planning Associate Professor.