Abayomi Azikiwe, Pan-African News Wire editor, holds the infamous MECAWI leaflets that required a federal court order to distribute at a "avoid foreclosure" fair in downtown Detroit. (Photo: Cheryl LaBash)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Detroit Coalition Launches Campaign to Halt Foreclosures by Chase Bank
82-year woman threatened with eviction while mass demonstrations escalate
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
A coalition of forces in Detroit have come together to build a broader network of political groups aimed at winning a moratorium on foreclosures. A series of actions have taken place in March that is targeting Chase Bank, one of the major culprits in the struggle against home seizures.
The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs’ ally and Atty. Vanessa Fluker is currently litigating at least eight cases involving the egregious practices of Chase Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the United States which earns billions in profits every quarter. Chase controls a large number of mortgages in Detroit where they have refused to negotiate loan modifications and principle reductions for working people despite being under consent agreements with the federal government to do so.
Perhaps the most glaring case related to the practices of Chase, is the threatened eviction of 82-year-old Alma Counts who has owned her home in northwest Detroit for four decades. Ms. Counts is a disabled and lives on a fixed income.
Although Ms. Counts’ had negotiated a loan modification, when Chase took over the loan they nullified the agreement and doubled her monthly payments.
At a press conference and rally held outside the Counts’ home on March 8, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada pledged solidarity with the senior citizen and encouraged all union members present to ensure that she was not evicted.
Other speakers at the rally and press conference included Atty. Jerome Goldberg of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Steve Babson of the People Before Banks Coalition and Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church.
The action was organized by a coalition of groups including Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Occupy Detroit Anti-Foreclosure Task Force, People Before Banks Coalition, the Metro AFL-CIO, and Jobs With Justice.
On Tuesday, March 13, a mass demonstration was planned specifically to target Chase Bank and its draconian policies against working people and seniors in Detroit. The demonstration gathered at the Spirit of Detroit outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (CAYMAC), City Hall, and will march to Chase headquarters at 611 Woodward at Congress.
National Day of Action Against Chase
The March 13 mass demonstration was part of a national day of protests targeting Chase Bank for its refusal to impose a moratorium on foreclosures. Since the advent of the Occupy Movement in the fall of 2011, a new upsurge in anti-foreclosure activity has taken place across the U.S.
In a statement issued by the coalition of organizations, it says that “A delegation is holding Chase accountable to the consent agreement that CEO Jamie Dimon signed with federal regulators committing the bank to special forbearances and mortgage modifications to keep people in their homes. The bank’s failure to comply underlines the need for a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions.”
National Conference to Take Place in Detroit on March 31
The Moratorium NOW! Coalition in conjunction with other organizations will hold a national conference at the Central United Methodist Church downtown on March 31. The event will bring together housing activists from around the U.S. to coordinate activities aimed at winning a halt to foreclosures and evictions.
The conference will hear from local activists in Detroit who through the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition has been battling the banks since 2007. Many victories have been won but the financial institutions and the federal government, which controls most mortgages now through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have resisted the imposition of a total freeze on foreclosures and evictions.
Also organizers from Atlanta, Raliegh-Durham, Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities will attend to share with local activists the rich history of experience in the burgeoning struggle to claim housing as a fundamental right inside the U.S. A cultural event will be held the evening of March 31 at 1515 Broadway.
1515 Broadway, a cultural hub in downtown Detroit, was itself facing bank seizure in February when a citywide campaign was launched by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Occupy Detroit, that resulted in the establishment remaining open and in the control of its current owner. The location is the site where the general assemblies and other activities for Occupy Detroit are held every week.
Detroit has been severely impacted by the housing crisis with 85 percent of the loans given out in the city being of a predatory nature. Formerly one of the largest concentrations of home ownership for working people and African Americans in general, the city has lost 25 percent of its population over the last census period.
This conference is designed to win a halt to home seizures during the year of 2012. People can register for the conference by logging on to nationalmoratorium.org .