The Occupy Movement Focuses On Foreclosures
By Alan Jenkins, cross-posted from Campaign for America's Future
Pundits are wondering aloud whether Occupy is through. But this young
movement is just getting started. An exciting piece of evidence to that
effect is a new focus on foreclosures.
Alongside its call for job creation, corporate accountability, and
relief from crushing student loan debt is a growing demand that Wall
Street and Washington make right the disaster that their greed and
neglect respectively caused. The movement has deemed December 6th a
National Day of Action to Stop and Reverse Foreclosures.
The new “OccupyOurHomes.org” website describes the stakes and the problem well:
“Everyone deserves to have a roof over their head and a place to call
home. Millions of Americans have worked hard for years for the
opportunity to own their home; for others, it remains a distant goal.
For all of us, having a decent place to live for ourselves and our
families is the most fundamental part of the American dream, a source of
security and pride.
In 2008, we discovered bankers and speculators had been gambling with
our most valuable asset, our homes—betting against us and destroying
trillions of dollars of our wealth. Now, because of the foreclosure
crisis Wall Street banks created with their lies and greed, millions of
Americans have lost their homes, and one in four homeowners are
currently underwater on their mortgage.”
These Americans are joining many others, particularly in communities
of color, who were victimized by predatory lending and lax enforcement
for decades. A new report by the Center for Responsible Lending, for
example, shows that African Americans and Latinos were consistently more
likely than whites to receive high-risk loans. While an unacceptable
12 percent of White Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure or
are delinquent, a staggering one-quarter of Latinos and African-American
borrowers are in the same position.
Fortunately, there are a range of solutions that can save homes,
restore communities, and rebuild the American Dream of fair and
sustainable homeownership. They range from mandatory mediation of
foreclosure proceedings, to pre- and post-purchase counseling, to
principal reduction and bankruptcy reform. Also important are
approaches like own-to-rent programs, community land trusts, and
improved fair housing enforcement. And when Congress again takes up the
future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it will be crucial to maintain a
government role that keeps homeownership accessible and sustainable for
The Occupy movement and its allies have been criticized, unfairly in
my view, for failing to articulate solutions. As their attention turns
to addressing foreclosures, it is clear what they are working for.