We’re Not Leaving: Michigan Family Announces Public Campaign to Resist Foreclosure
Outside their modest home in the metro-Detroit suburb of Southgate today, the Henry family announced that they would not comply with any foreclosure or eviction from their home. In protest of the treatment of taxpayers and homeowners by bailed-out banks, including Bank of America, the Henrys will stay in the home as an act of civil disobedience. They are working with their neighbors and allies from the Occupy Detroit movement to organize non-violent resistance to any attempt to evict them.
Surrounded by friends, neighbors, and community supporters, Debbie and Robert Henry explained their situation.
“Our home was our future, and we thought that we’d invested wisely. We were making our payments, even though now it’s worth a third of what we paid for it. But after I had my stroke, we just couldn’t keep up. We tried to work with the banks to get a fair deal, but they gave us the run-around for years. Now they want to throw us out. I thought they got all this taxpayer money so that families like us could have a second chance,” said Debbie, a former manager at a food services company.
The family has lived in the home near where Debbie grew up for 7 years. Though purchased for $140,000, it is likely worth $40,000-$50,000 now. Husband Robert works as a mechanic, and the couple was able to make their payments until Debbie’s stroke in 2008. The mortgage was originated by Countrywide Financial, which was later bought by Bank of America. Bank of America then received $45 billion in federal bail-out funds with the expectation of issuing mortgage modifications to families like the Henrys. Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan made $10 million in 2010 in cash and stock bonuses.
Instead of using the government bail-out to arrange a more reasonable payment for the Henrys, Bank of America sold the loan to federal loan guarantor Fannie Mae, likely making a profit. This move also ironically shifted the costs of performing the foreclosure onto taxpayers.
Robert and Debbie hope their campaign leads to a loan modification from Fannie Mae instead of foreclosure, and brings attention to the plight of millions of American homeowners in similar situations. The family and their friends announced that they would engage in non-violent civil disobedience, up to an including their arrest, if local authorities attempted to remove them.
“The taxpayers and citizens of this country are sick and tired of seeing bailed-out bank CEO’s make million dollar bonuses while good, tax-paying families in Southgate get thrown out of their homes,” said Shannon McEvilly, a volunteer organizer with Occupy Our Homes, “When it looked like the whole financial system was going to collapse, we sucked it up and bailed out the banks. We thought that meant they would turn around and do right by homeowners and small businesses. It’s time that banks lived up to their promises and put our community before their profits.”
The protest is being held in coordination with a national day of action called by the Occupy Our Homes campaign.
Shannon McEvilly talks about why the Southgate community is coming out in support of the Henrys.