March 31 has been designated as the deadline for Wayne County residents to pay back property taxes from 2019 and before despite the failure of the relevant authorities to provide adequate assistance to working and impoverished households. For the last two years, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree has not foreclosed on properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a disproportionate impact on area residents, particularly African Americans who make up approximately 80 percent of the Detroit population. This issue is not a new one in Detroit and Wayne County. Since 2005, there have been tens of thousands of homes and small businesses seized due in part to over assessments which grew out of the mortgage crisis during the first decade of the century.
Boston, MA - Thousands of families in eastern Massachusetts face renewed risk of eviction. Governor Charlie Baker opted on October 17 to cease emergency measures to protect shelter that have been in effect throughout most of 2020, triggering a huge surge in “notices to quit” from landlords. A rally downtown outside the Eastern Housing Court near Haymarket on a rainy Thursday morning called for an alternative program at the state legislature, among other policies that have been proposed including a rent freeze.
The foreclosure horrors add to Puerto Rico’s Dickensian experience of late. Close to 35 percent of the island remains without power after Hurricane Maria, with full restoration not expected until May. At least 100,000 people have left the island. Abandoned pets are everywhere. Government services have been slashed or hobbled. Even one major proposed solution, wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt, will take a personal cost: The bonds represent the life savings of many residents to whom the financial products were aggressively marketed without explanation of the downsides. Ultimately, the expected wave of foreclosures could prove worse than what happened in the most hard-hit areas in the U.S. mainland during the Great Recession.
By Michele Oberholtzer for Occupy - Back in July, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree for foreclosing on owner-occupied homes in the area around Detroit. The lawsuit, which was anticipated for years, could dramatically affect the fate of thousands of families if it is successful. But even so, it will only impact about one-tenth of the properties headed for auction starting this Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 9 a.m. EST. The Wayne County Tax Foreclosure auction is seen nationwide as an opportunity to buy Detroit homes on the cheap.
By Michael Nevradakis for Truthout - Once again, Greece is in the throes of domestic unrest. Despite the fact that global solidarity movements and the mainstream media have seemingly forgotten about Greece following last July's referendum, in recent weeks, Greeks have been taking action. Farmers have set up roadblocks in hundreds of locations throughout Greece and have descended upon the capital; lawyers are on strike; accountants have declared that they will abstain from filing tax returns for their clients; and ordinary citizens have once again filled the streets in protest of the Syriza government's proposed pension cuts, recapitalization of the banks and tax increases.
By Patrick Sheehan for Occupy.com. Antoinette Talley stands on a makeshift podium in the common area of a gray stone church on Detroit’s east side. As she addresses the audience, Talley is flanked by several of her neighbors, each of them recent homeowners in the new Gratiot-McDougall housing development just a few blocks north of the church. She and her neighbors have been fighting a dubious eviction notice from the project’s developer for months now. Today they are guests of honor at a fundraiser held on their behalf by the activist organization Detroit Eviction Defense. “Those houses are a part of us,” Talley tells the supporters, “That’s our family. And it would destroy me to have to leave my family behind and go somewhere else. You have all warmed our hearts, so thank God for fighting with us day in and day out.”
Newark’s new mayor, Ras Baraka, introduced the resolution and the Newark Municipal Council, which passed it unanimously, according to a press release issued today by New Jersey Communities United (unitednj.org), which describes itself as a progressive grassroots community organization committed to building power for low and moderate income people, predominantly in Newark. According to the release… “Newark Council Unanimously Approves Resolution Supporting Local Principal Reduction Program for Families Facing Foreclosure Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka Leading Fight Against Foreclosure Crisis in Newark” The program would allow homeowners trapped in certain type of mortgage, known as a Private Label Security or PLS Loans, to voluntarily participate in a program where the City purchases these mortgages from investors and repackages them at terms homeowners can afford. For most of the estimated 1,200 homeowners with these types of loans in Newark, the policy would save them from losing their homes to foreclosure.
In an action organized by Eviction Free San Francisco, it was estimated that nearly 200 tenants and community supporters congregated at the 24th Street/Mission BART station at 11:30 a.m. to march to the offices of Vanguard Properties at 2501 Mission Street in support of San Francisco native Benito Santiago’s campaign to fend off an Ellis Act eviction from his home at 151 Duboce Avenue. 63-year-old Benito has lived in his one bedroom apartment since 1977, but is now facing an Ellis Act eviction at the hands of his new landlord, Pineapple Boy LLC, owned by Michael Harrison, one of the co-founders of Vanguard Properties.
This shows the scheme enacted by BoA to sanction this illegal and unconstitutional foreclosure which was proven because the DTA was not adhered to; as well as “failure to materially comply with that statute renders a foreclosure sale pursuant to it invalid.” Therefore the foreclosure implemented against the homeowner was illegal because there was a failure to appoint “a trustee that was independent.” Bowden clearly stated “I could not find that Fannie Mae as the claimed owner of the underlying note was a bona fide purchaser for value, even if it was not complicit in the violations of the DTA.” It was concluded that BoA and MERS action were “unfair [and] deceptive” in nature and the homeowner was “injured” because of this foreclosure.
As the late populist and journalist Molly Ivins once said: “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.” Extending those liberties and constitutional protections to corporations is antithetical to the principles of Democracy. While the Supreme Court has been slowly granting rights of persons to corporation for over 100 years, the phrase “Corporate Personhood” entered the popular lexicon soon after the January 21, 2010 Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court Case.
The story of Spain’s economic, social and political crisis is one about property, need and value. And at the heart of that story lies a question that is familiar to the point of cliché: what makes a house a home? It may sound trivial, but in a country where families are sleeping in the street, entire building blocks are devoid of residents, and housing remains out of reach for major swathes of the population (despite the ubiquity of “For Sale” signs in the urban landscape), it is a question that remains largely unanswered by policymakers. For over four years, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH or “Mortgage Victims’ Platform”, in English) have pursued a simple and poetic response to this question: people living together, for one another. Their campaign for mutual aid, solidarity and civil disobedience strike at the very core of Spain’s power structure, and despite an often overwhelming institutional blockade, they have received the support of up to 90% of the population.
As the banks enjoy record-breaking profits and the 1% steal a bigger share of annual income than ever, the 99% have learned that this so-called economic recovery is nothing more than a big fat lie. Tens of thousands of people are still being evicted each month through foreclosure, and now private equity firms and hedge funds are executing a massive land grab in cities across the country. In some cities, like Phoenix, there are already Wall Street-owned homes on every single block by the hedge fund Blackstone. These Wall Street hedge funds and private equity firms are pretending to help by renting out these vacant houses -- but we know that they are just trying to make more money off the banks of the 99%. One of these private equity firms has even released a new risky security backed by rental payments -- which is just like the mortgage-backed securities that destroyed the economy in 2008. The story of Laura and her family show how we must stop this land grab and demand that housing be enshrined as a human right, not a means to make a short-term profit.
Rep. Williams began labeling Mr. O’Connor and fellow activists from Move On, Colorado Progressive Coalition, and Occupy Denver as bullies when, to try and gain an audience with her, they held a sit in at the capitol prior to the vote on HB1249. Shortly thereafter, O’Connor responded to an email list that Williams included him on to share that he would work hard in Williams’ district in the coming year to share her unwillingness to meet with those who believed HB1249 would have protected them and the Colorado economy going forward. O’Connor has followed through by showing up at every one of her public Town Hall meetings and several of the District 7 Democrats meetings. When one such Town Hall was cancelled without notice, members of CFRC flyered William’s neighborhood, including her home, with literature that shared how they believed she had failed them and all Coloradans when she led her committee in killing HB1249. During this activity, Williams claimed that Mr. O’Connor had left a business card at only her home with the intent to send the message: you are not safe here. In her temporary restraining order (TRO), Williams claimed that O’Connor was escorted by an officer from her May Town Hall, and that at her October Town Hall, Commander Calo of District 2 had to tell him to back away from her.
New cities are joining the effort to head off home foreclosures by using a twist on the power of eminent domain, despite threats of financial retaliation from Wall Street and Washington. On Saturday, Mayor Wayne Smith of Irvington, N.J., will announce that his mostly working-class city is proceeding with a legal study of the plan. Irvington could try to head off legal action and repercussions through what are called “friendly condemnations,” in which incentives are used to persuade the owner to drop any objections, he said. “We figure if this program works it can help anywhere from 500 to 1,000 homes.” This summer the similarly working-class city of Richmond, Calif., in a heavily industrial part of the San Francisco Bay Area, became the firstto identify homes worth far less than their owners owe, and offer to buy not the houses themselves, but the mortgages. The city intends to reduce the debt on those mortgages, saying that will prevent foreclosure, blight and falling property values. If the owners of the mortgages — mostly banks and investors — balk, the letters said, the city could use eminent domain to condemn and buy them. Cities hard hit by the housing crash are showing interest. Yonkers, just north of New York City, will soon take up a resolution to study the use of eminent domain to reduce debt, and support is building in Newark as well. In California, Pomona and Oakland are considering it as well.