12.6.12: Reclaim Our Homes, Reclaim Our Future – Occupy Our Homes Kicks Off Year Two of Housing Justice Organizing

Four years after an economic meltdown precipitated by Wall Street greed, fraud, and recklessness in the housing market, Americans continue to face an epidemic of unjust foreclosures. While homeowners and renters seek help to keep their homes, banks have rushed to foreclose and evict, and in too many communities, homes remain vacant while neighbors sleep on the street.

But homeowners, housing justice activists, homeless advocates, and occupiers have come together to fight back under the banner of the Occupy Our Homes movement. Community organizations and occupy groups came together last December to challenge the housing crisis and confront the crooks at the banks who are stealing our homes. On December 6, 2011, scores of groups around the country participated in a day of action for housing justice, launching the Occupy Our Homes movement.

Homeowners, renters, and the homeless joined forces to fight the banks and reclaim our communities. All over the country, activists declared housing a human right. We came together, occupying our homes to prevent eviction, disrupting foreclosure auctions, restoring vacant homes to community use, and protesting the banks that caused this mess in the first place.

And we showed time and again that when people fought for their homes, they could win.

But the fight is far from over. Despite dozens of victories for homeowners around the country, banks are still choosing to foreclose instead of taking payments. Banks are still refusing to negotiate with families who seek only a fair solution that keeps them in their home. Banks are still using fraudulent tactics like robo-signing to speed through illegal foreclosures—months after a weak settlement meant to stop this practice. Bank-owned houses continue to sit empty and untended, destroying property values and pushing more and more families underwater.

A year since the start of the Occupy Our Homes movement, we are recommitting to reclaiming our homes and our futures. On Thursday December 6th 2012, we call on communities to turn the spotlight on the crisis that continues to hold our neighborhoods and our economy hostage.

Go below the fold for more details)

Rochester: Housing Is A Human Right March

On October 16th Metro Justice will march to City Hall in a “Housing is a Human Right March”. We hope that you will join us in co-sponsoring this march!

With hundreds of people homeless every night, in a city that has enough vacant properties to house them all, we know that our communities are in crisis! When thousands of homes have been foreclosed upon by massive banks in our city, we know that housing must be a human right.

Adequate access to housing is the cornerstone on which we build a thriving and vi

brant community. At Metro Justice, we’ve taken that seriously and our Housing is a Human Right Campaign is growing. Our campaign makes two requests of the city that we intend to make very clear at our march on October 16th:

1. As a consequence of their awful foreclosure record across New York State and nationally, the City of Rochester should divest all public funds from JP Morgan Chase.

2. Due to the widespread fraud in mortgage foreclosures by big banks, the City of Rochester should halt police participation in evictions by those banks for one year.

(Read more below the fold)

DC: Homeowners, Renters, and Homeless Unite Against Fannie/Freddie In Day of Action

Yesterday homeowners and housing justice activists from around the country to target Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHFA chief Ed DeMarco around a set of demands that would keep people in their homes and return power to local communities. Groups from around the country, including numerous local Occupy Our Homes groups, convened in Washington, DC to take back the peoples’ bank. 

The American Friends Service Committee/Atlanta blog has a great write-up on the day and the role Occupy Our Homes Atlanta activists played as part of it. 

After pulling off actions at every regional Fannie/Freddie office in early September, several cities decided to send delegations to Washington DC to confront Freddie and Fannie at their national offices.

With little time to organize, we were able to pull eleven folks from Atlanta to make the trip.

Micheline Meusa, Renika Wheeler and their two children were among our Atlanta delegation. Both have lost jobs in the last six months and as a result of having a very limited safety net they ended up on the street. Renika and Micheline have bounced from shelter to shelter and have been unable to obtain work, despite looking for work almost every day.

Renika and Micheline represent a segment of the population that has, up to this point, often been left out of the housing crisis conversation.

One thing that was exciting about today’s action was having the story’s of homeowners, renters, and homeless elevated to the some importance.

The sad fact is that Atlanta has six empty homes for every homeless person, and Atlanta is full of homeless people now more then ever.

After demonstrating outside Fannie Mae this morning, five people impacted by Fannie’s practices decided to commit an act of civil disobedience that landed them in jail, Renika was one of them. She’s out now!

After leaving Fannie we made a quick trip to Freddie Macs headquarters, then we decided to do something special.

All of us went to Edward Demarco’s to not only give him a piece of our mind and deliver a pink slip, we also had a pizza party on his lawn.

Read more about the fight against Fannie and Freddie below the fold.

Occupy LA Anniversary Goes to Foreclosure Mill Responsible for Looting and Pillaging of American Homeowners

On the weekend of the Occupy LA anniversary, Occupy Fights Foreclosures, a subcommittee of Occupy LA, shines light on the business model of fraud used by the financial industry that devastated the economy and the lives of millions of Californians who are now struggling to keep their homes. Homeowners and activists gather to illustrate the timeline of frauds that start before a homeowner signs on the dotted line and continue through the lockouts and evictions following fraudulent foreclosures.

Almost all foreclosures have been found to have suspicious documentation or legal violations according to February’s audit by the San Francisco County Assessor-Recorders office. The newly-signed California Homeowners Bill of Rights does give homeowners a fighting chance against the fraudulent practices. But right now, homeowners are without those protections. In LA County alone, there are almost 8,000 active foreclosures with over 32,000 expected by the end of the year when the law goes into effect. If nothing is done, in less than 100 days, over 32,000 families in LA County will lose a house that they would keep starting January 1 — that’s about 65 families every business hour.

“How does it make any sense that any homeowner would lose their home today, when they wouldn’t on January 1st?,” says Carlos Marroquin, homeowner advocate with Occupy Fights Foreclosures. “On top of all the fraud that came to light at the beginning of this crisis, new companies have appeared precisely to take advantage of the disaster created by the banks. It’s an entire cycle of looting and pillaging.”

Details for Friday’s Occupy LA anniversary action are below the fold.

Occupy Homes MN: S17 Action to Strike Debt

From Occupy Homes MN on the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

One year ago, a movement known as Occupy Wall Street began, launching a movement of occupations across the country and the world . The 99% gathered to fight back against big banks foreclosing on our homes, killing our jobs, buying up our democracy, and polluting our planet. A year later, students and homeowners are still struggling, drowning in loans, student debt, and fraudulent mortgages to maintain the profits of the 1%. A s part of a national day of action to commemorate this anniversary, homeowners, students, and activists will gather in Government Plaza to march to demand debt relief.

In Minnesota, the Occupy movement has evolved to focus on helping homeowners fight back against big banks and save their homes from foreclosure. Occupy Homes MN has already successfully prevented the eviction of six families in Minnesota. In February, they saw their first victory with veteran Bobby Hull, and just last month won loan modifications from Bank of America for Ruby Brown, Frank and Kristina Clark, and Paul Lelii. At the Strike Debt rally and march, organizers hope to bridge students’ growing anger over student debt with homeowners’ frustrations over mortgage debt to build power among those hit hardest by the financial crisis.

“Wall Street has engineered these colossal debt traps to force us all into their profit-generating treadmill,” said Ty Moore, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN. “Most people can’t afford an education, a house, a car, or even sometimes the groceries, without going into debt to the big banks, paying outrageous interest, fees, and penalties. It’s a modern form of indentured servitude, but this time on a globally coordinated scale.”

 

See event details and get more information below the fold.

Video: Fannie and Freddie 99: National Week of Action (Chicago)

Monday, September 10th, 2012 touched off a national week of action targeting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Led by the Fannie and Freddie 99, groups of fearless families from across the country marched through Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York to defend their homes.

In Chicago, the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, the Centro Autónomo of Albany Park (Chicago), Occupy Our Homes Minnesota and Moratorium Now! (Detroit) participated.

Fannie and Freddie own 59% of all mortgages in the US. American taxpayers bailed out Fannie and Freddie in 2008, and now we own 79% of these financial institutions. However, these behemoths refuse to take positive steps to end the housing crisis. Ed DeMarco, the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which oversees Freddie and Fannie) would rather steamroll through the eviction and foreclosure process and sell vacant homes to the same investors that caused the crisis than take measures to keep families in their homes. The Fannie and Freddie 99 demand that Obama fire DeMarco and replace him with someone who will stop all evictions of Fannie and Freddie properties, carry out principle reduction on mortgages, and stop selling vacant homes to investors.

wearethefanniefreddie99.tumblr.com

200 People March on Fannie Mae’s Southeastern Hub Demanding An End To Abusive Housing Practices

Yesterday Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and people from all over the Southeast marched on Fannie Mae’s regional headquarters in the heart of Atlanta’s most affluent real estate; Buckhead.

Yesterday’s Southeastern action launched a national campaign aimed at highlighting and addressing the inhumane practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. People from Athens, Chattanooga, Miami, Orlando and Nashville joined Occupy Our Homes ATL organizers in holding Fannie and Freddie accountable for their abuse of our system and demand change.

Many underwater homeowners who Freddie and Fannie refuse to work with were present and demanded a meeting with Catherine Lasher of Fannie Mae. Robert Anderson, whose home is underwater, said he has tried to modify with Freddie Mac but with no luck.”I want the investors to step down and talk to us,” Anderson. “I’ve been going through anxiety.”

Currently Georgia is near the top of the list of most devastated states in this foreclosure crisis and as a region, the Southeast is the hardest hit per capita. Homeowners, renters and the homeless have been devastated by unjust practices that include refusal to reduce principal, bulk sale of homes to investors at 10-20% of market value, and holding properties hostage in communities hit hardest by the crisis. In Atlanta there are six vacant homes for each homeless person. This is not acceptable. Speaking on behalf of thousands in Atlanta’s growing homeless population was Michelene Meusa, mother of two who became homeless after going from under employed to unemployed. While addressing the crowd Michelene stated,“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stop holding these unoccupied, vacant, boarded up properties hostage! The hostage situation is over! People always talk about “Oh, well you know, homeless people are bums.” The biggest bums are right up there (Fannie and Freddie)”.

(More below the fold)

The People Vs. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

Today kicks off two days of protests—today in Atlanta and Chicago, and in Los Angeles and New York City on Wednesday—to demand an end to the abusive practices of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Today, community organizations, Occupy Homes groups, and foreclosure fighters are converging from around the southeast at Fannie Mae headquarters in Atlanta.

More information on the Atlanta action on the Occupy Our Homes Atlanta website here, and on facebook here.

In Chicago, foreclosure fighters and their allies will be raising a ruckus outside of both the Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac regional headquarters. Occupy Homes MN kicked off a caravan to Chicago from the Cruz family home—still sealed and patrolled by security working for PNC bank with support from Freddie Mac. They are re-igniting their campaign in support of the Cruz family today.

More information on Chicago’s day of action on the website of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, and on Occupy Homes MN’s facebook here.

Here’s a quick excerpt from the event listing from Occupy Our Homes Atlanta:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac control over 60% of the mortgages in the US. After gambling with people’s money, and buying up subprime mortgages during the housing bubble, they were placed under conservatorship of the US government in 2008, receiving billions of taxpayers dollars. Now, 4 years later, they continue to put people out of their homes, and are the biggest obstacle to fixing the housing crisis. It’s time to put a stop to this, and to demand the wealth that was stolen from our communities be restored.

Our demands include: 

-Principal Reduction for all underwater homeowners to real market value

-and end to Fannie and Freddie Evictions, and the right to rent after foreclosure

-the sale of foreclosed properties to occupants and non-profits at the same discounted rate they are offering to shady investors
-that they turn over vacant and abandoned properties to community controlled entities to provide long term affordable housing

The Right to the City Alliance, a key force behind this week’s actions, has been collecting stories from families who are fighting foreclosure by Fannie & freddie, demanding principle reduction, and organizing for housing as a human right. Check out the tumblr site RTTC has published, We Are The Fannie Freddie 99, with many compelling, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories, including photos and video testimonials.

To follow this week’s actions, watch the @OccupyOurHomes twitter feed, and follow the hashtag #FFFighters (as in Fannie Freddie Fighters!).