Detroit: Fight the Banks Save Jennifer’s Home!
The big banks have been waging war on Detroit’s neighborhoods, leaving homeless families and blighted, vacant homes in their wake. The banks’ ongoing campaign of fraud, corruption, and greed has caused senseless destruction across Michigan, and in Detroit most of all. Jennifer Britt’s story is one egregious example of this terrible phenomenon.
Jennifer Britt and her husband Leon purchased their home on the Northwest side of Detroit in 1999 and signed a mortgage agreement with Flagstar Bank. In 2001, Leon asked the bank how he could lower his $1,200 a month mortgage payments. The bank told him it would lower his payments if he refinanced his mortgage. After Leon refinanced, Flagstar only lowered the payments to $1,050 a month. Leon eventually was forced into bankruptcy and the mortgage went into default.
Leon died in 2006. Jennifer didn’t find out that her home’s mortgage was in default until she found a notice on her door that her home had been foreclosed on and that it would be sold at sheriff’s sale in a month. Flagstar told Jennifer that if she paid them $26,000 in late payments and fees, they would call off the foreclosure. Jennifer used the money that she received from Leon’s life insurance policy to pay Flagstar the entire $26,000.
Flagstar now demanded $1,550 a month. Jennifer tried to work out a modification of the mortgage agreement with the bank to lower the monthly payments to something more reasonable, but the bank refused to work with her because her deceased husband’s name was on the mortgage agreement and not hers. When Jennifer told them that her husband was deceased and that she inherited the house, the bank told her that they might change the mortgage agreement to include her name if she continually paid the monthly payments on time. Jennifer paid the monthly payments for over two years, but the bank continued to refuse to talk to her.
Jennifer lost her job in June of 2008, and Flagstar raised her mortgage payments to $1,750 a month that July, then to $1,950 a month in September. Jennifer continued to pay her mortgage payments until she had no savings left in November of 2009.
The bank foreclosed on her in 2010. Fannie Mae, a bank operated by the federal government, took over the mortgage and took Jennifer to court to evict her. She tried to fight the foreclosure in court, but she didn’t have an attorney to represent her and the legal firm working for the bank out-maneuvered her in court. She could now face eviction any day.
When a local nonprofit organization called Southwest Solutions offered to purchase the home from Fannie Mae at its appraised value and sell it to Jennifer on favorable terms, Fannie Mae refused. It wants $120,000 for a house worth 1/12th that amount.
Jennifer Britt was hit by tragedies and set-backs that could happen to anyone. The bank strung Jennifer along for years, extracting thousands of dollars from her, while refusing to lower her monthly payments to a reasonable amount because of a technicality outside her control.
Jennifer lives in her home with her son, daughter, mother, and uncle. She now works two jobs and could make reasonable mortgage payments if the bank agreed to work with her. There is no reason why Jennifer and her family should be evicted from their home, only to leave another vacant house in Detroit.
Occupy Detroit and other organizations and community members have organized to defend Jennifer Britt from eviction through a public campaign. Through the power of protest, public pressure, and direct action, the people have stopped unjust foreclosures like this before. We can and must do it again. Join us as we continue and broaden the defense of Detroit from corporate greed. All are invited to our weekly committee meetings on Thursdays at 6 p.m. at 5900 Michigan Avenue.
Foreclosures and evictions only hurt our communities. Detroit doesn’t need more empty houses or more people without homes. And the banks certainly don’t need more money. Together we can save our neighborhoods and put an end to foreclosures and evictions.
Together we will defend the home that Jennifer and her family live in from a heartless and unnecessary eviction. This is part of the ongoing national campaign to stop foreclosures and evictions. We demand that Jennifer’s family have a home to live their lives in with dignity. This is a basic right of all people.