CLEVELAND, OH – In Case You Missed It, Cleveland.com today previewed U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) first hearing as Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and his emphasis on Ohio priorities as Chairman. At 11 AM today, Brown will lead a Committee hearing on COVID-19 recovery efforts, which will feature Ohioans Mayor Tito Brown of Youngstown and Mr. Jyoshu Tsushima from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.

  • Today’s hearing will be livestreamed HERE at 11 AM.

“Brown says the hearing will focus on what’s needed to get the nation back on track and how to best support those who suffered most during the pandemic, particularly Black and brown communities in Ohio and beyond, who were the first to be preyed on by shady mortgage lenders, the first to lose their jobs, and the first to get foreclosed upon even before the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the economy. Investing in infrastructure, getting front-line workers the support and protection they need, helping state and local communities prevent layoffs, and providing rental and mortgage assistance will also be discussed,” wrote Sabrina Eaton for Cleveland.com.

You can read the Cleveland.com story HERE or below.

Cleveland.com: Sen. Sherrod Brown to boost Ohio priorities when he chairs his first Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing

By Sabrina Eaton

February 18, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Predatory lenders, Wall Street manipulators and corporate profiteers beware.

When a pair of U.S. Senate wins in Georgia last month turned control of the U.S. Senate over to Democrats, it turned over control of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee to Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, a longtime financial industry critic focused on consumer protection and “the dignity of work.” Brown pledges to shift its focus away from protecting Wall Street, and onto priorities like preventing evictions and building affordable housing. It’s the first committee Brown has chaired during his 28-year congressional career, and he’s eager to get cracking.

On Thursday, Brown will conduct his first-ever hearing as chairman. He views its topic, “The Coronavirus Crisis: Paving the Way to An Equitable Recovery,” as a sign of the direction where he’ll lead the committee, and the witnesses he’s called as a harbinger of the Ohio focus he’ll bring to his new job. Youngstown’s mayor, a Legal Aid Society of Columbus attorney, and the head of the Amalgamated Transit Union, a former bus driver who represents transportation workers throughout Ohio, are on the witness panel he assembled.

Brown says the hearing will focus on what’s needed to get the nation back on track and how to best support those who suffered most during the pandemic, particularly Black and brown communities in Ohio and beyond, who were the first to be preyed on by shady mortgage lenders, the first to lose their jobs, and the first to get foreclosed upon even before the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into the economy. Investing in infrastructure, getting front-line workers the support and protection they need, helping state and local communities prevent layoffs, and providing rental and mortgage assistance will also be discussed.

“We know what we’ve got to do,” Brown said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve got to build more housing in this country. We know we’ve got to help people first, we’ve got to help people so they’re not evicted. The worst thing imaginable is a wave of evictions in the middle of a pandemic in the middle of the winter. So that’s why this committee, the first hearing we’re going to do tomorrow will be about COVID relief, and why workers must be at the center of this recovery. Obviously COVID has affected everybody, but it’s especially affected people of color who are more likely to get sick, more likely to be evicted, more likely to die from COVID.”

Brown says a quarter of the nation’s renters pay at least half their income in rent and utilities, which means that if “one thing goes bad in their lives, their car breaks down, they can’t get to work, their child gets sick, they could end up in the streets.” Low wages, scarce affordable housing, and the fact that homeownership is lower among people of color because of factors like redlining all factor into the problem, according to Brown.

Brown said the hearing and his committee chairmanship will be committed to “equity.” That will include helping groups of people who don’t have intergenerational wealth they can use for housing down payments get opportunities to buy affordable homes in safe neighborhoods with decent public schools.

“In cities like mine, where I live in Cleveland, there are a lot of $50,000, $60,0000, $70,000 homes out there that, with the right kind of financing and a bit of a down payment, people could move into those homes and start rehabilitating them, and build wealth and have a safe place to live in,” said Brown. “We want to find creative ways to do that as we find ways to encourage homeownership and find ways of encouraging more and more apartment and home construction. We want to explore things like how you get somebody from an apartment into a home where they’re paying roughly the same amount for their mortgage as they paid for their rent.”

Brown says he looks forward to working on the issue with Warrensville Heights Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge after the Senate confirms her as President Joe Biden’s new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He said he believes that he and Fudge will be able to help economic development and housing in Ohio.

“Maybe this is beginner’s luck here that I get to be chair of the committee at the same time as she goes from my congresswoman to the secretary of the agency where I have oversight and jurisdiction,” said Brown. “I’m thrilled that the Secretary of HUD is my friend and is from Cleveland.”

Brown said Ohio is a regional banking and insurance hub, and he will oversee those industries on his committee. Because his committee also oversees mass transit, Brown said he’d like to use the post to help Cleveland’s mass transit system. His job also requires him to oversee the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he says will be restored to its original purpose of fighting scammers under Biden’s CFPB nominee, Rohit Chopra.

In upcoming weeks, Brown says he’ll hold hearings on topics that include public transit and manipulation of GameStop Corp.’s stock price. He said his committee will have input on the coronavirus relief package that is working its way through Congress, and he will lobby for including money for emergency rental assistance, foreclosure prevention, mass transit, pension assistance, and increasing the minimum wage.

“It’s such an important committee,” says Brown, who notes that 24 of the Senate’s 100 members serve on it. “There are no more than two or three committees that I believe are as important as this one. I am thrilled to be chairman.”

###