Former HUD secretary criticizes Bloomberg on housing policy

Former HUD secretary criticizes Bloomberg on housing policy
© Greg Nash

Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro (D) criticized presidential hopeful Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE for statements he made while he was mayor of New York City in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.

Bloomberg, a multibillionaire running a self-funded presidential campaign, blamed the recession on the overturn of “redlining,” a discriminatory housing policy that made it difficult for people of color to qualify for mortgages.

“It all started back when there was a lot of pressure on banks to make loans to everyone,” Bloomberg said at a forum that was hosted by Georgetown University in September 2008. “Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, ‘People in these neighborhoods are poor, they’re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell your salesmen don’t go into those areas.’ "

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“And then Congress got involved, local elected officials, as well, and said ‘Oh that’s not fair, these people should be able to go get credit.' And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like,” he continued. 

Though the fact that banks approved mortgages to otherwise ineligible creditors did lead to the 2008 recession, redlining discriminated against creditors based on where they lived, and subsequently, their demographic, and the practice was banned in the 1970s.

The clip was released shortly after Bloomberg apologized for leaked audio that showed him endorsing “stop and frisk,” a law enforcement tactic that sought to lower crime rates in the city but encouraged racial profiling. He described it as a policy he inherited and touted the drop in gun violence in the city during his administration.

However, his assertion that the policy was in place prior to his administration was met with skepticism. 

"Stop and frisk was a uniquely and largely Bloomberg administration policy," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez rips de Blasio after police cruiser drives into crowd of protestors NYPD police cruisers lurch through group of demonstrators protesting Floyd's death States respond with force amid another night of protests MORE (D-N.Y.) told The Hill. "I don't think he can blame it on a predecessor."

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“Hey, @MikeBloomberg, have you apologized for this too? It’s the least you can do,” Castro said in a tweet. ”I hope you know how wrong you were. Everyone deserves #FairHousing opportunity.”

Castro, who ended his own presidential bid on Jan. 2, has endorsed Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE (D-Mass.) for president, and has been floated as a potential running mate if she is successful in the primary. 

Julie Wood, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, told The Hill in a statement that Bloomberg “attacked predatory lending” as mayor and plans to “help a million more Black families buy a house, and counteract the effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis” if elected president.

"Because he knows how important it is to keep people in their homes, Mike attacked predatory lending as Mayor and helped other cities craft innovative strategies to reduce evictions as a philanthropist," Wood said. "And Mike has detailed plans for how he will help a million more Black families buy a house, and counteract the effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis as President."

"His plan will provide down-payment assistance, get millions recognized by credit scoring companies, enforce fair lending laws, reduce foreclosures and evictions, and increase the supply of affordable housing," she continued.

Despite the negative attention, Bloomberg, one of the handful of moderates in the race, received three new endorsements from members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday.

Bloomberg — who joined the race in November and has not qualified for any of the debates — did not receive any delegates from the last two primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, and will first appear on the ballot on Super Tuesday. 

Updated at 11:16 p.m.