1 Million Homes for People Not Profit
As Obama and other electeds settle into the White House, Right to the City Alliance is cooking up a movement for homes, sweet homes. Twenty-two member groups of the Right to the City Alliance have been meeting to iron out the strategy, tactics and goals to build a national movement and campaign for the expansion of affordable, sustainable and quality housing in our cities.
Meeting with Fannie Mae
To kick off the campaign this week, Right to the City Alliance members brought this message to Fannie Mae in Washington DC. Right to the City and its allies submitted 96 cases, each including the person’s name, home address, proposed solution and contact information. The demands proposed included principal reduction, the right to rent, repairing poor conditions and transferring Fannie Mae owned properties to non-profits to become affordable housing. In this meeting, Fannie Mae agreed to discuss both individual cases and broader policies including donating properties for $1 or at a low cost to nonprofits, to be converted to affordable rentals. They also agreed to fulfill their statutory commitment to creating affordable housing through funding the National Housing Trust Fund. Fannie Mae committed to reviewing the 98 cases we submitted prior to our meeting, including cases from member organizations Springfield No One Leaves, City Life/Vida Urbana, Causa Justa/Just Cause, DARE, and Nobody Leaves MidHudson. Fannie Mae staunchly refused to do principal reduction. The Vice President said that decision is in the hands of Federal Housing Finance Agency. Right to the City looks forward to ongong communication and clearly will be expanding our organizing and continuing our fight for principal reduction among other issues connected to the housing crisis.
Meanwhile local member groups City Life, Vida Urbana and Springfield No One Leaves are having victories and winning homes for people.
Eminent Domain Creates Hope in Brockton
Last week, members of the Brockton Bank Tenant’s Association witnessed an 11-0 vote by the Finance Committee of the Brockton City Council that approved an order to study the idea of using the City's eminent domain power to address the foreclosure crisis in Brockton. Under this proposal, the City would seize mortgages (not buildings) by eminent domain at their real current value (far less than face value) and then renegotiate the terms with borrowers. Brockton is the first municipality nationally to agree to study the idea.
See Huffington Post coverage here.
The Brockton Council vote is part of a growing effort by Massachusetts municipalities to be more aggressive in foreclosure and eviction protection. Brockton has already pulled its payroll account out of Bank of America. Springfield and Worcester have passed strong ordinances fining banks for failure to keep up foreclosed properties. The Mayor of Malden is robo-calling all the town's residents to set up a community forum to address the foreclosure crisis. Other municipalities, including Boston, are looking at similar ordinances.
The vote would not have been possible without the steady work of Right to the City member organization City Life, Vida Urbana and the Brockton Bank Tenants Association (BBTA). The BBTA is sponsored by Brockton Interfaith Community, City Life/Vida Urbana, and the Coalition for Social Justice. The BBTA was formed a year ago to bring together homeowners and tenants facing bank evictions and foreclosures. It uses the "sword and shield" method popularized by City Life, which combines public protest (sword) and legal defense (shield) to keep people in their homes and negotiate permanent solutions.
"I'm living in the City of Champions," declared Auria Torres (referring to Brockton’s nickname).
Local Springfield Families Win Stay of Eviction
The Clark Family of Springfield can breathe in the next few days. Christine and Howard Clark, and their three children, with the support of Springfield No One Leaves (SNOL) Bank Tenant Association effectively stayed their eviction that was scheduled to take place on Monday, January 15, 2013.
The Clark family used to own their home. In 2007 Christine Clark was in a car accident that set the family back financially. After the accident Mrs. Clark wasn’t able to lift anything heavy - not even her kids (as she states in this letter to Fannie Mae). She still lives with the pain of herniated disks in her neck and a tear in her rotator cuff. In 2010, Fannie Mae and CitiMortgage made Mrs. Clark aware that she was being foreclosed on. She called to ask about the mortgage insurance she had purchased and was told that that would not sufficiently cover her payments. She was then sent a letter saying that her house had been sold.
After mobilizing with SNOL, the Clark family made the case that this was both inhumane treatment and that they hoped to negotiate the terms of the loan. RTC member group SNOL announced in a press release, “Fannie Mae informed the Clark family today that they would be putting off the eviction for 30 days to work on a potential buyback deal through Boston Community Capital! This is a huge victory due to the dedication of the whole movement fighting back against evictions and foreclosures!”
Jeffrey Solivan's Home
Posted originally in http://originatortimes.com
SPRINGFIELD – Neighbors and activists, who stood in the bitter cold for more an hour on Wednesday morning to protest the planned eviction of Jeffrey Solivan of 32 Edgemont St., cheered after hearing that Fannie Mae had canceled its action.
The protest kicked off just before 8 a.m., initially with about a dozen people and grew to about 30 people when word came that the eviction was off. No date has been given for a new eviction.
Solivan said he hopes something can be negotiated with the lender that will allow him to keep his home in the Pine Point neighborhood.