The effort to halt foreclosures grows
By Curt Guyette
Published: July 6, 2011
They came to the microphone, one after another, each bearing witness to a disaster that continues to unfold.
As eight Wayne County commissioners and two Detroit City Council members listened, a stream of people spent nearly three hours at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in early June talking about the issue of home foreclosures.
Some wondered why such a hearing was needed at all, given the extent of the crisis.
“If you aren’t already aware of what’s going on, you are not in touch with the pulse of the people. You are not in touch with reality,” said Charles Williams, a Baptist minister. “Michigan is in a state of emergency.”
And some did more than talk: They demanded immediate action.
“We’re not asking you,” one woman shouted. “We are telling you.”
What they were calling for is something many would consider a radical reaction to the foreclosure problem: a moratorium that would put a halt to sales and evictions for one year.
The problem is clear enough: Far too many people are losing their homes to foreclosure, and that is having a devastating effect not just on the families being evicted but also on the property values of their neighbors, the well-being of communities and on the budgets of local governments.
Detroit may be one of the epicenters of this crisis, but it has long since spread across Michigan and throughout the country.
More than 2.8 million properties nationwide were in some stage of the foreclosure process in 2010, according to RealtyTrac, a California company that monitors foreclosure activity. Another 197,112 properties were added to the list during the first three months of this year.
In Michigan, about 200,000 homes have been repossessed since 2009. The Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit research and policy organization, predicts another 140,000 homes will be foreclosed on in the coming 18 months.
“The reality is that we have a way to go before we hit bottom,” says Steve Tobocman, a former state legislator who is now co-chair of the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, a collaborative statewide project involving several legal services programs.
Since 2006, what began as a small group of activists has been calling for a moratorium on home foreclosures. For much of that time, their voice has been largely ignored.
But as the crisis has deepened and spread, the movement has gained support. Though still facing a difficult battle, this much has happened:
continued at Metro Times