The Friday, May 9 edition of the New York Times has a powerful Op-Ed from Occidental College professor Peter Drier, the co-author of a new study released yesterday (see press release here) showing that for many people, especially those hardest hit - moderate-income households, and African-Americans and Latinos - when the big banks destroyed our economy, the so-called "housing recovery" simply doesn't exist.
Not only are 20% of all homes with mortgages still underwater, but nearly 5 million households have been foreclosed on since the banks created this crisis. All this represents permanent and continuing damage to communities across the United States.
Drier's op-ed does reinforce the calls that Home Defenders have been making since we started taking action in the summer of 2012, as the final four paragraphs make plain.
"The Obama administration created several initiatives to help troubled borrowers, but these programs do not require banks to reset loans as a condition of getting federal funds. The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program has helped only one-quarter of the four million homeowners it was supposed to reach.
Worse, the federal government has actually been an obstacle to reform. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has refused to allow these two mortgage giants to reduce the principal on underwater mortgages that they own or guarantee. All it would take is for President Obama’s new appointee as F.H.F.A. director, former Representative Melvin Watt, to change the policy, an action that does not require congressional approval. He should do so immediately.
Meanwhile, faced with this predicament, some municipalities have been trying to take matters into their own hands. Late last year, Richmond, Calif., was the first city to develop a plan to use its power of eminent domain to buy underwater mortgages at their current market value and to refinance them, but many other localities are likely to follow. A number of responsible for-profit and nonprofit lenders stand ready to do business with them so that local governments don’t have to use tax dollars to purchase these loans.
Dealing with this problem on a city-by-city basis may not be the most efficient way to confront a national crisis, but in the face of Wall Street intransigence and federal indifference, cities have had to find their own way to restore the lost wealth of their constituents."
You can read the entire thing below the fold. Or at the New York Times here: http://nyti.ms/1kTPbXFRead more
Last year, thanks in part to petitions signed and delivered and phone calls made by Home Defenders, one city, Richmond, California, stood up to Wall Street bankers and created their own program for taking on the foreclosure and underwater mortgage crisis.
Watch this video to see what happened next.
Richmond - and now other cities - worked out a proposal to "Local Principal Reduction" to acquire a set of the worst, hardest to fix underwater mortgages and refinance them to restore home equity. If banks refuse to cooperate, cities may use their legal authority of eminent domain to buy the bad mortgages at fair market value and reset them to current value.
Some people also call it “reverse eminent domain” because it is all about keeping struggling families in their homes. Unsurprisingly, this has a lot of Wall Street's most intransigent bankers upset and they are fighting this tooth and nail.
We believe this story has two possible endings.
In one, we get programs like Richmond’s implemented in every corner of the United States. In that case, Wall Street bankers have to deal with us, rather than dictate to us. Foreclosures go down, families stay in their homes, cities stabilize. We control our economic future.
In the other, Wall Street lobbyists scare every city in the country except Richmond from taking bold action to control their futures. Foreclosures go on, struggling families lose their wealth and their homes, and we fight hard for settlements that let bankers go free and don’t match the magnitude of the economic destruction they caused.
So we created a way for people around the United States to come together and fight for the first ending. It's called FightingForeclosures.org and it will allow anyone to stand up to Wall Street and help keep struggling families in their homes.
If enough people like you come together, then we'll win. We'll win the ability to control our economic future. We’ll be in charge. Wall Street lobbyists are trying desperately not to let this happen, including spreading fear and confusion to stop other cities from taking such a bold move.
Help us win. Please visit www.FightingForeclosures.org, watch the video, chip in a few dollars (whatever you can do helps) and spread the word.
We can beat the banks. We did it in Richmond. We can do it again. But we absolutely can’t do it without your help. With your help, we control our economic future and keep families in their homes. Without it… well, we’re already going down that road.
Click here to write the ending in which people win back their homes and their futures.
We knew the big banks would play dirty in their fight against Richmond’s plan to stop the wave of foreclosures decimating our city’s communities. But we didn’t know they would stoop this low.
The banks want to bully Richmond out of our plan to acquire underwater homes by threatening to make it more expensive for people to borrow money to buy homes if our plan passes.
There’s another name for this kind of bullying: redlining. It’s a tactic that was used for decades to maintain neighborhood segregation and keep people of color out of home ownership -- and it’s completely illegal. By threatening us, the banks are betting that our plan will lose political support and wither on the vine. That’s why we must hold them accountable for threatening illegal action right now.
Join me in standing up to discriminatory redlining. Sign this petition calling on the U. S. Department of Justice to investigate the banking industry’s threats.
Richmond, CA struggling families 2 – Wall Street criminals 0!
On Tuesday September 10, the Home Defenders League and HDL partner ACCE, joined by the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the Mayor of Richmond Gayle McLaughlin, and City Council champion Jovanka Beckles, beat back a Wall Street-led campaign of threats, litigation, and a full-scale election-style campaign dedicated to ending the Richmond, CA program to help underwater homeowners in that city, using eminent domain if necessary.
On that Tuesday night (well, really Wednesday morning), the City Council voted 4-3 to move forward with the Richmond CARES program despite the huge attacks from Wall Street bankers against it. That was the first victory of the week and it is a really big deal.
The importance of this victory cannot be overstated. If the lies and fear mongering of Wall Street bankers had been allowed to intimidate Richmond’s City Council into backing down, the entire Local Principal Reduction idea would have collapsed. Instead, the movement is spreading. This week, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos announced a resolution standing in solidarity with Richmond and exploring a similar program there. And in Seattle, more than 30 groups came together in the Reset Seattle Coalition and packed the Seattle City Council to launch an LPR campaign there, too.
We've set up a way to thank the four City Council members - Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, Tom Butt, and Jael Myrick - who voted to continue the Richmond CARES program on our Facebook page here.
You can also help keep this fight spreading to other cities by chipping in $20 here.
As the two-term mayor of Richmond, CA, I’m intensely proud to announce that for the first time ever, a city – my city – is going to force Wall Street bankers to reduce mortgage principal for local homeowners as a way to help struggling Richmond families avoid foreclosure and eviction.
We’re all in. As I told the New York Times on Tuesday,
“We’re not willing to back down on this,” said Gayle McLaughlin, the former schoolteacher who is serving her second term as Richmond’s mayor. “They can put forward as much pressure as they would like but I’m very committed to this program and I’m very committed to the well-being of our neighborhoods.” 
Full scale Wall Street freak out.
Five years after Wall Street criminals destroyed our economy there are still millions of underwater homeowners and millions more foreclosures in the pipeline.
The good news is that Home Defenders and local elected officials have figured out an innovative way – called Local Principal Reduction – to deal with this problem. The bad news is that Wall Street criminals are in in full attack mode fighting as hard as they can to stop us.Read more
Home Defender Michael Benthin will be heading to DC during our May 19th-23 Week of Action to fight for his home. He has also posted a petition to Bank of America Ceo Brian Moynihan asking for a fair loan modification instead of eviction. Support Michael’s Fight.
Here is Michael's Story:
When my fiancé and I first met it was love at first sight. We started dating, and haven’t left each others’ side since. A couple years into our relationship we had our son. I promised him and his mother that they would never have to worry. I would always be there to provide for and take care of them.Read more
5/2/13 Update: Bill Moyers has picked up the story of the Home Defender’s heroic actions and included as part of his 3-part series about people across the country are fighting back against the big banks entitled “Banks on the Run.” Check out the coverage and learn more about the action by clicking the link below!
WELLS FARGO CAN RUN BUT THEY CAN’T HIDE: Home Defenders follow bankers to their annual meeting.
This past week, Home Defenders League members from ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment) traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to confront Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf as he presided over his company’s shareholder meeting.Read more