Elected officials, nonviolent activists, and nonprofits fight foreclosure
|February 11, 2009||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Elected officials, nonviolent activists, and nonprofits fight foreclosure
Some mortgagers are taking strong action to avoid eviction
In Michigan, Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans announced he wont enforce sales of foreclosed homes. This story and more is from Democracy Now!, a daily TV/radio news program hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 750 stations, broadcast Feb 3, 2009. Goodman interviewed Marcy Kaptur, Democratic Congress member from Ohio and the longest-serving Democratic woman in the history of the House, Bruce Marks, Founder and CEO of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, which camped on the doorstep of Fannie Mac until the CEO met with them, and Kathy Broka, President of the Fair Housing Center in Toledo, Ohio.
by Goodman, Kaptur, Broka, and Marks
Kaptur: Possession is nine-tenths of the law; therefore, stay put. Its more than a piece of property. Its your home. With subprime loans and with the circuitous financing thats been done, often Wall Street cannot produce the deed nor the mortgage audit trail. Dont be a victim. Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (888/995-HOME) can help.
Many people abrogate their own rights. People need to say, Wait a minute. The mortgage is a contract. I am one party. There is another. What are my legal rights as a property owner? We need to hold the Wall Street and all of their associates accountable.
Goodman: Kathy Broka, what is the Fair Housing Center doing?
Broka: We have helped save homeowners over $5 million by doing loan modifications and workouts. We are one small agency. This needs to be on a national scale.
Many homeowners have gotten into workouts without any representation. The bank has thrown them something and said, Take it or leave it, have set them up once again for failure. Then they use those statistics to say these are just freeloaders. Why help them?
People got a loan thats going to adjust in two to three months and they wont be able to keep those payments going. So they do what the banks tell them — call early. Even Rep Maxine Waters when trying to get in touch with a lender to see what could be done kept getting the runaround. Lets get people in those departments at banks who have the authority to do workouts that make sense.
Goodman: Bruce Marks, what is NACA doing?
Marks: We have 40 offices around the country. If you go through NACA, youre able to permanently reduce your interest rate to as little as three percent and your principal to make your mortgage affordable. Were doing it for tens of thousands of homeowners.
When the congresswoman says we should hold JPMorgan responsible, we hold Option One, Wilbur Ross, who heads Option One, responsible, and GMAC.
Our website has pictures of how they are living on our dime, on our dollar, on our homes. See where Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase, lives, not just in Stamford Connecticut, also in Chicago, or Wilbur Ross, who runs Option One, or Feinberg, who runs GMAC, or in other parts of the country where these CEOs have multi-million-dollar homes. Wilbur Ross has $1.8 billion in net worth. Jamie Dimon, $300 million. Frey is suing Bank of America because he does not want them to modify loans.
If theyre going to take our homes, were going to go to their homes to tell them, No more. We go on the Predators Tour with not just ten or twenty people but hundreds and thousands and say, I want you to meet my family. I want you to see who youre foreclosing on. We want their children to meet ours and have those children have a conversation with each other and have their children go back to their parents and say, Mom, Dad, is it true that youre foreclosing on them?
Yes, its nice to get an attorney, but its the confrontation, its the advocacy, its personalizing the issue that makes that work, and to get sheriffs around the country, like in Cook County, saying, Im not going to foreclose on hard-working people, because thats who I am. And, you know, were able to get it done.
Goodman: Hope for Homeowners was passed last summer. The idea is it would stop 450,000 foreclosures. I think there have been twenty-one successful applications. Its almost impossible to go through that system.
Kaptur: If you look at the bad paper, 95 to 98 percent of it has moved to five institutions: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wachovia, Citigroup, and HSBC. They were powerful enough to turn the banking industry of this country almost upside-down.
Theyre not just powerful in Washington; they have power out in the regions. Ohio lost one of its major banks, National City Bank; it was merged with PNC in Pittsburgh. PNC now controls the price of lending over the western part of Pennsylvania and parts of eastern Ohio. The vice chair of PNC was the gentleman who invented derivatives when working on Wall Street.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were investment houses but all of a sudden turned themselves into deposit banks. Why would they do that? To become eligible for deposit insurance, which the good banks have paid into for decades. But Goldman and Morgan didnt pay into that. They wanted the protections, though they were high-risk. Then the good banks had to pay more for deposit insurance.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission have auditors that deal with the real valuation of property. They have power to put the borrower at the same table. If both the lender and the mortgagee have to write down some losses, they do that.
Those institutions were not used. I think Wall Street didnt want examiners to look at the books. They were powerful enough, scaring Congress before the election, to bring in people to run the Treasury from the very companies, like Goldman Sachs, that had been going under. But Treasury doesnt do bank regulation in the same way that the FDIC does, nor oversight. Treasury works with Wall Street, selling US debt. That Washington-Wall Street circuit isnt allowing workouts to occur, and people are falling off the edge.
This foreclosure crisis has tied up our entire banking system to the point where companies that want to expand in districts like ours, where unemployment is over 11.5%, cannot get credit from the banks.
Theres been no oversight by Congress, as required by that TARP law passed last year. It is an indication of how much power these institutions have politically.
Goodman: When you talk about those who caused the problem now being in charge of solving the problem, I think of a job description: be a part of the mess and dont pay your taxes, and you, too, could be Treasury Secretary of the United States of America.
Kaptur: Mr. Geithner has brought one of the major lobbyists who had lobbied for Goldman Sachs as his chief of staff, Mr Patterson. This revolving door between Washington and Wall Street is terribly strong. We need to clean out that operation.
Goodman: What do you think of the Obama stimulus plan?
Kaptur: If all Ohio gets is $9 billion or $12 billion, which some people have been saying, our population is 3.66% of the country. We should be receiving anywhere between $25 billion and $30 billion. If we do not receive that, then to which states is that money going?
I hope Obama will talk to people whove actually resolved bank crises in the past, like William Isaac, who had served both the Democrats and Republicans back in the 1970s and 80s. This isnt the first time that the banks of this country have sort of done it to the American people.
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