Ed DeMarco, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency -- which oversees Fannie and Freddie -- has stood in the way of reductions and he's claimed the support of Fannie and Freddie. But that's no longer the case. Even Fannie and Freddie now support principal reductions. It's time for Ed DeMarco to step aside, and time for President Obama to step in and act on behalf of struggling Americans.
Earlier today, a family who has been wrongly foreclosed upon occupied a Citibank branch in Los Angeles. Crowds of protesters, including Occupy LA, gathered in the lobby to show support. The family, including four children, are facing homelessness in spite of having enough money to make payments. The protesters refused to leave until Freddie Mack negotiate to keep the family in their home.
Children from the family held signs saying "Freddie Mack Give Our Home Back" and protesters chanted "We Are he 99%" and "Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Old!" Around 1:15 PM Pacific Time, dozens of armed police arrived and threatened to arrest the entire family. Legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild were on hand.
Dozens of clergy members and community activists rallied Wednesday outside the headquarters of Wells Fargo Bank in protest of what they say is rampant foreclosure abuse.
The action comes after the release last week of a report by the city's assessor-recorder's office that found that 84 percent of foreclosures studied in an audit of 382 San Francisco homes from the past three years violated at least one state foreclosure law. .
In light of the report, "we're calling for a freeze on foreclosures," said Geoff Nelson-Blake of the San Francisco Organizing Project, a coalition of religious and community groups that organized today's action.
Since moving into a home eight weeks ago, Tene Smith has hung one of her paintings on a wall, a reminder of her youthful aspirations to become an artist. She’s hosted a community group in her living room. Her daughter had a friend sleep over, and they danced much of the night.
It all sounds so normal. But the 40-year-old mother of four is never sure when she’s going to have to gather up her family and their possessions and leave.
Smith and her children are squatters, or as Liberate the South Side, the community group that placed her in the vacant home calls them, “tenants without a lease.”
A Southland home sales recovery gained steam in February as a record number of deep-pocketed investors snapped up distressed properties at bargain-basement prices. With so many purchases of low-end homes, median prices remained in a slump.
The influx of cash from speculators helped push February sales to their highest level for that month in five years, real estate firm DataQuick reported Wednesday. The increase was fueled by purchases of properties costing less than $200,000. Sales of homes costing more than $800,000 sank.
The activity on the low end helped push the region’s median price down 3.7% from February 2011. At $264,750, the median — the point at which half the homes in the region sold for more and half for less — is now just 7.2% above the market’s 2009 bottom, reached during the worst of the financial crisis.
The third "People's Bailout", a series of singing protests organized by activist group Organizing for Occupation that aims to disrupt the court foreclosure proceedings, took place this morning at 11am at the Queens Supreme Court. Forty-two people showed up for the movement and, in three separate batches, interrupted the auction process by standing and singing "Mr. Auctioneer".
With the movement advertised heavily on social media the last several days, the courts were prepared. Over 20 court guards patrolled the courtroom, and arrests were made within seconds of song outbursts. Twenty three people, including some who did not sing but were merely standing up, were arrested and escorted out of the court room in rapid succession. Deborah Seabrook, a 63-year-old activist of sorts who has been monitoring foreclosure proceedings for the past nine years under various groups, called the reactions by court guards "overkill".
The Occupy Our Homes movement has continued to grow since it began last November. On Valentine's Day, Occupy LA disrupted a foreclosure hearing for an active duty solider and veteran and his family. This week, thousands of supporters helped Occupy Nashville save the home of a local 78-Year-Old Civil Rights Activist. Occupy Minneapolis pledged to save a third home in response to the National Mortgage Settlement. Foreclosure defense actions have also occurred in Cleveland, Atlanta, Rochester, Brooklyn, and across the country. Also yesterday, Occupy Denver disrupted a foreclosure auction.
Alma Counts, an 82-year-old resident of northwest Detroit, is drawing on the support of community organizations, local officials, unions, the Occupy movement and a committed lawyer to help fight off an impending foreclosure on the home she has lived in for 39 years.
Counts, who is partially paralyzed due to a stroke she suffered several years ago, sought and received a modification in 2009 on what her lawyer, Vanessa Fluker, called a "predatory subprime loan" from Washington Mutual.
"From what I can ascertain," Fluker told The Huffington Post, "she was not even in the best of health when she was put in this unconscionable loan."
The ragtag Occupy Wall Street encampments that sprang up in scores of cities last fall, thrusting “We are the 99 percent” into the vernacular, have largely been dismantled, with a new wave of crackdowns and evictions in the past week. Since the violent clashes last month in Oakland, Calif., headlines about Occupy have dwindled, too.
Far from dissipating, groups around the country say they are preparing for a new phase of larger marches and strikes this spring that they hope will rebuild momentum and cast an even brighter glare on inequality and corporate greed. But this transition is filled with potential pitfalls and uncertainties: without the visible camps or clear goals, can Occupy become a lasting force for change? Will disruptive protests do more to galvanize or alienate the public?
Occupy Homes MN and a coalition of faith leaders and community organizations are claiming a small victory in Minneapolis today after helping local resident Monique White stay in her home, despite attempts from Freddie Mac and U.S. Bank to evict her during foreclosure proceedings. Freddie Mac had previously defied the state attorney general’s order to halt foreclosure proceedings and pursued an eviction, which would have taken place today.
But after a meeting between White’s attorneys, local officials, and Freddie Mac representatives, a hearing on the foreclosure has been moved to Friday, according to a press release from Occupy Our Homes MN.
There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America.
The first is that it’s corrupt. This bank has systematically defrauded almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of wiped-out retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake.
The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging. Bank of America is not just a private company that systematically steals from American citizens: it’s a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business.
Accountability has begun to wane for the crimes of the mortgage industry. They just extinguished some of their liability in an inadequate settlement. Bank of America won an appeal to move a venue for another settlement, this time with investors over mortgage-backed securities claims, that helps assure passage of that settlement (the new venue’s judge is notoriously bank-friendly). That deal, if agreed to, could set a precedent for how to deal with investors, erasing another big part of the banks’ liability.
Indeed, one of the few ways left for individuals to get some measure of justice is through the Occupy Our Homes movement. And they just notched a big victory yesterday.
The foreclosure protests got personal on Saturday as Occupy protesters gathered in front of the home of Wells Fargochairman and CEO John Stump in San Francisco's Russian Hill to deliver their version of a foreclosure notice.
"You are in default under a deed of trust held by the American people," according to the protesters' foreclosure notice.
During the speeches and on posters, protesters shared their personal foreclosure experiences.
A Bayview resident told the crowd that he and his three children will be evicted from their home in San Franciscoâ€™s Bayview distict this Wednesday.
For our third dispatch this month (see previous postshere and here), I spoke with David McDowell, a senior organizer at the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) in Chicago, IL. David, who has more than 20 years of community organizing experience, works with SWOP's members to build a broad movement among churches, mosques, synagogues, schools, and other institutions in Southwest Chicago on a issues including housing and immigration.
For those of us who do not live in the neighborhoods where David and other SWOP members fight to keep people in their homes, it may be difficult to fully fathom the poisonous effect of foreclosure on entire communities.
LOS ANGELES -- Arturo De Los Santos and his wife Magdalena have been fighting to keep the home in Riverside, California, where they raised their four children and on which they have pinned their hopes and dreams.
Barring a last-minute miracle, the sheriff is set to evict them Tuesday morning. But De Los Santos and his family say they are not going anywhere.
Chase's foreclosure department put the house, located at 3270 Layton Court, up for sale, even as the bank's own loan modification department was finalizing an agreement that would have allowed the family to stay put.
This week, Occupy Our Homes, an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, successfully helped a 78 year-old former civil rights activist in Atlanta stay in her home, after she was threatened with foreclosure by JP Morgan Chase (while the bank was simultaneously touting its commitment to the values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). Meanwhile, in Detroit, Occupy Our Homes has successfully prevented four foreclosures and is locked in on a fifth, as Michigan Radio reports:
The “Occupy our Homes” movement has taken up the cause of Fred Shrum, another homeowner facing foreclosure in Metro Detroit.
The group is a coalition of anti-foreclosure groups, organized labor, and other activists with the Detroit “Occupy” movement.
About 20 California activists surrounded a local home this weekend to prevent Freddie Mac and Chase Bank from foreclosing on the property, even amid rumors that sheriff’s deputies were coming to seize it. The Riverside, California home belongs to Arturo de los Santos, a former Marine who told Riverside’s City News Service that he fell behind on his payments when business plummeted at the factory where he’s employed.
De los Santos said he applied for a modification to his mortgage to lower his monthly costs, only to be rejected by Chase. The bank then initiated foreclosure proceedings, and a local judge granted possession to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which guaranteed the loan, last week. That allows the local sheriff to seize the property, a situation de los Santos and the Occupiers are trying to prevent, CNS reports: