Black Entertainment Television billionaire Bob Johnson wants in the Treasury's TARP action. Johnson outlined his proposal in a speech last week at the National Housing Forum sponsored by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).
The Forum was attended by a passel of bureaucrats and regulators from the Federal government, housing activist agitators like ACORN, as well as bankers, and mortgage lenders. Johnson proposed that the Treasury lay a billion dollars on his Urban Trust Bank, and he would raise an additional $8 billion privately. He suggested a plan that would allow loan servicers, the firms charged with the responsibility for servicing mortgages, to continue to pay the monthly loans missed by borrowers allowing the loan servicer time to work directly with the debtor/homeowner to modify their mortgages keeping them in their homes.
Johnson's Urban Trust is a small thrift bank headquartered in Orlando with less than $200 million in assets and 117 employees. Using the well worn victimization appeal, Johnson portrays himself as the champion of underserved minority communities disproportionately devastated by the financial fiasco. In Johnson's own words: "my organization is uniquely positioned to address this problem. I am passionately committed to addressing these issues and believe that my organization has the ability to communicate to the minority homeowner that might otherwise be resistant to or skeptical of such programs,"
I'm not so sure Johnson is uniquely qualified for this assignment. I think he's just trying to get on board the TARP gravy train.