By Abayomi Azikiwe
A coalition of forces in Detroit is building a broad network of organizations aimed at winning a moratorium on foreclosures. A series of actions in March is targeting Chase Bank, one of the major culprits involved in foreclosures and home seizures.
Attorney Vanessa Fluker, a leader in the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, is currently litigating at least eight cases involving Chase Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. Chase controls a large number of mortgages in Detroit, where it has refused to negotiate loan modifications and principal reductions for working people despite being under consent agreements with the federal government to do so.
One of Fluker’s cases involves the threatened eviction by Chase of 82-year-old Alma Counts, who has owned her home in northwest Detroit for four decades. Counts is a disabled senior living on a fixed income. Although she had negotiated a loan modification, when Chase took over the loan they nullified the agreement and doubled her monthly payments.
At a press conference and rally held outside Counts’ home on March 8, United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada pledged solidarity with Counts and encouraged all union members present to ensure that she was not evicted.
Other speakers at the rally and press conference included Jerry Goldberg of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Steve Babson of the People Before Banks Coalition and the Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church. The action was organized by a coalition of groups including Moratorium NOW!, the Occupy Detroit Anti-Foreclosure Task Force, the People Before Banks Coalition, the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, and Jobs With Justice.
On March 13, protesters will target Chase Bank and its draconian policies against working people and seniors in Detroit by holding a demonstration outside the bank’s downtown headquarters. This action is part of a national day of protests targeting Chase Bank for its refusal to impose a moratorium on foreclosures.
A statement issued by organizers says: “[We are] holding Chase accountable to the consent agreement that CEO Jamie Dimon signed with federal regulators committing the bank to special forbearances and mortgage modifications to keep people in their homes. The bank’s failure to comply underlines the need for a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions.”
National conference March 31 in Detroit
The Moratorium NOW! Coalition will hold a national conference at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit on March 31. The event will bring together housing activists from around the U.S. to coordinate activities aimed at winning a national moratorium to foreclosures and evictions.
Organizers from Atlanta; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Chicago; Milwaukee; and other cities are expected to attend. Organizers will exchange ideas on direct actions to keep people in their homes along with building the movement for a national moratorium. A cultural event will be held the evening of March 31 at 1515 Broadway.
1515 Broadway, a cultural hub in downtown Detroit, faced bank seizure in February until a citywide campaign was launched by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Occupy Detroit and other forces that resulted in stopping the foreclosure and eviction of its owner. The site is where general assemblies and other activities for Occupy Detroit are held every week.
People can register for the conference by logging on to nationalmoratorium.org.