Shortly after Congress shoved the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) down America's collective throat--already sore from shouting a virtually unanimous, if inevitably futile, "NO!" to banker bailouts--the bailed banks got back to work. Job one? Make a list of desperate Americans who found themselves unable to continue making payments on their fraudulent mortgages, then foreclose them out of house and home.
Homeowners Fight Back
Homeowners Nancie Koerber and Mark Thomas founded the Southern Oregon Homeowner Support Group in March of 2009 "to find solutions to the Foreclosure disaster." As other homeowners facing foreclosure joined Koerber and Thomas organized their support group into a non-profit, and in August, 2010 rechristened it Good Grief America.
Although the initial purpose was to provide "moral support to families" facing foreclosure, participating homeowners ultimately began looking for ways to fight back and keep their homes. What we found to be true was not what any of the members wanted to find. As such, Good Grief America’s emphasis focuses "on education, research and support for homeowners, attorneys and civic leaders." Although they do not "give legal or tax advice," they "will help homeowners find resources that fit their family needs."
Good Grief America claims to have "trained over 300 families as of October 2010." They have a "network" of eight "attorney teams" throughout Oregon, and have formed coalitions with Rural Organizing Project, Oregon Action, grange halls, labor unions and political leaders. The organization lists the following as its "current results":
- Eight foreclosures delayed long-term.
- Fourteen in long-term limbo.
- Four foreclosures either overturned or in the process of being overturned.
- Six delayed by bankruptcy.
- Unsettle Portland was formed to support the effort of families resisting eviction, and those planning on re-inhabiting foreclosed homes and other vacant buildings. We support community control of land and housing, and are an affiliate of Take Back The Land.
- In order to achieve these movement objectives, we must design and implement a series of campaigns, whose objectives support those of the broader movement.
- Therefore, campaign action areas include:
- Foreclosure related evictions. In the context of the worse housing crisis in memory, evicting families and creating more vacant homes in communities is counterproductive.
- Foreclosed homes. These homes must be filled with families in need of housing.
- Vacant foreclosed and government owned buildings. At a time of such great need, these vacant structures shock the moral conscience. They must be used to housing people.
- Vacant foreclosed and government owned land. Now that “boom” times are over, vacant land must now be returned to the common good.
- Public housing. Public housing must be protected because we cannot afford to lose low-income housing.
- The right to return. Whether through gentrification, public housing demolition or the combination of natural disasters and government actions, those forced to leave their long-time communities must have the right to return.
- Foreclosure and the Unweaving of our Community Fiber: Housing was the vehicle that Wall Street used to drain the life out of America. The result has caused record unemployment, foreclosures, homelessness and the unweaving of our community fiber. All linked to this issue are increased suicides, divorces, bankruptcies, and small business failure. Our community services such as food stamps, unemployment, foster care, homeless shelters and many others are over burdened and unable to meet the needs of struggling families.
- "We are in the first stages of coordinating the Spring Action, a massive series of actions across the country to stop foreclosure, hold big banks accountable, and reclaim housing for people and communities."
- Today's foreclosure crisis is the crime of the century. It's difficult to grasp its enormity. It's been said that the current crisis is 75 times greater than the savings and loan sandal of the 1980s, and will cost us trillions. Plenty of evidence is coming to light about the numerous and significant Bank frauds leading to this crisis, costing people their homes, losing billions in tax revenues for our cities, counties and states, and creating a true mess of our economy. We can solve this crisis by coordinating our efforts and pushing the "right buttons" together. With actual proof of foreclosure fraud sitting in our County Recorders or Registrars of Deeds offices, it makes sense to push them to do Audits on the foreclosure paperwork like San Francisco Recorder Phil Ting and Massachusetts Registrar John O'Brien both did. Interestingly, both independent audits, done by different firms, at different times, and in different states, found that 84% of the foreclosures examined were fraudulent.
- Keep Your House or Walk Away With Money in Your Pocket
- An illegal chain of events that transformed these homes into drug dens. The crimes started at the top. Banks peddled toxic mortgages like crack, paying employees cash incentives to push them in African American neighborhoods. The loans exploded, so they forged millions of foreclosure affidavits to speed state-enforced evictions.
- On the morning of January 16, soon after Ron Austin had gone to work, Debbie Austin and her two children awoke to the sound of the Multnomah County Sheriffs and Portland Police banging on their door. At the demand of Fannie Mae, the police forces entered the Austins’ home at 4207 NE 77th Avenue, and forcibly evicted them. Fannie Mae has now placed a private security force at the house to guard against the Austin family from moving back in with the help of the community.
- The same financial institutions and Wall Street gamblers who plunged the world into the Great Recession are now buying up foreclosed houses on the cheap--by the hundreds or thousands. They're converting them to rentals, and planning to cash out in a few years. Meanwhile, the former owners who were foreclosed out of their homes are forced to become renters, couch surfers, or homeless people.
- No matter how many times people debunk the notion that government policy created the housing bubble, it doesn't die. It's part of what the blogger Barry Ritholtz has called the "big lie" of the financial crisis.
- The Independent Foreclosure Review was supposed to be a full and fair investigation of the big banks' foreclosure abuses, and it was trumpeted as the government's largest effort to compensate victimized homeowners. Federal regulators, who designed the review, forced banks to spend billions to carry it out. Millions of homeowners were eligible and hundreds of thousands submitted claims. But Monday morning, the very regulators who launched the program 18 months ago announced that it had all been a massive mistake and shut it down.
- The police used every resource they had and took the home from Patricia and Darren, but they did not do so quietly. Every major news network was out yesterday covering the story and shedding light on police-backed, unjust foreclosures.
- The profit margin on the mortgage loan rates that banks can charge customers and the price they can earn for selling those mortgages to investors is at a record.
- Could Portland be a sanctuary city where no homes sit empty?
- There is growing evidence some banks are playing a major role in identifying the victims of their own abuses, raising the question of whether the review is compromised by conflicts of interest.
- The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that the mortgage industry’s controversial document-recording system lacked authority to start out-of-court foreclosures and might have violated state consumer protection laws.
- The nation's largest electronic mortgage-tracking system cannot foreclose on a homeowner in Washington state, the state's highest court ruled Thursday (August 16, 2012). In a unanimous opinion, the Washington Supreme Court said that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) can't begin a foreclosure itself because it doesn't hold the note the homeowner signed with the lender. The ruling means banks or other noteholders will have to initiate foreclosures instead of relying on MERS. Observers said the opinion could have a broader impact on other court cases alleging wrongful foreclosures in Washington.
- Q. How many people have been pushed toward foreclosure unnecessarily?
- A. A thorough study provides one number, and it's a big one: about 800,000 homeowners.
- “Since 2008, the housing liberation movement has been building nationally, with actions in Miami, Madison, Detroit, Raleigh, New York and other cities. Nowhere has it expanded as rapidly as in Chicago, though, where various factors have made it the leading place for home liberation. ... The number one goal of Chicago’s home liberation movement is not to influence the dominant economy; it’s to create an alternative one.”
- ProPublica's round up of standout reporting on the crisis.
- Foreclosures: Did Wall Street Banks Conspire to Rob Homeowners?
- Why Rampant Foreclosure Fraud Was Inevitable
- Wall Street Bankster Party for all our Friends
- Foreclosure Fraud: It's Worse Than You Think
- Occupy Wall St. Joins Fight Against Foreclosures
- FBI warns of mortgage fraud 'epidemic' (CNN | 2004)
- Right 2 Dream Too
- Right 2 Survive
- Hunger Strike for Housing Justice
- Make Revolution Not War
- National Day of Action to Stop Foreclosures 6 December 2011
- Re-Occupy Your Public Space On Martin Luther King Junior Holiday