By Kris Hamel Detroit
Published Apr 20, 2012 8:09 PM
Attorney Vanessa Fluker with homeowner
WW photo: Kris Hamel
April 12 was not about the legislation, although there has been and still is a crying need for a moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners throughout the U.S. It was not just about U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke of Detroit having the political courage to introduce such a bill in the U.S. Congress. A law putting a national moratorium on foreclosures is past due and beyond necessary. Whole cities and neighborhoods around the country, especially in Detroit, cry out for relief: 7.5 million families have lost their homes to the banks since 2007, and 10 million more foreclosures are yet to come. (responsiblelending.org)
The rally and press conference April 12 announcing Clarke’s bill were about struggle and building a movement against the banks and for the rights of workers and the poor.
Reporters and activists from many organizations gathered on Willie Delbridge’s lawn in front of his home in southwest Detroit. Delbridge faces imminent eviction because his lender illegally sold his home to a hedge fund. Clarke’s bill, called the “Save Our Neighborhoods Act of 2012,” would give homeowners like Delbridge time to make the banks act responsibly and work things out. The banks would essentially be given a three-year “time-out” in which to deal equitably with homeowners.
Speakers stressed that the fight against the banks is paramount, and it is time to move the struggle to a higher level. The Rev. Ed Rowe, pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, declared, “We’re going to have to occupy the lobbies of these banks, because walking around the outside of them doesn’t always make them listen.” Rowe denounced all the politicians whose campaigns are “paid for by the 1% and the banks” and said it’s “time to stop business as usual.”
Clarke said his legislation “would allow most homeowners facing foreclosure to stay in their homes by suspending the foreclosure process for up to three years. Suspending foreclosures would encourage banks to agree to modify mortgages and make payments more affordable. At the end of the foreclosure suspension period, a court would reduce the mortgage principal to the market value of the home.”
Clarke stressed: “Don’t count on Congress or the President to put a moratorium on foreclosures. It’s up to us. This bill is to generate a movement.”
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