Community volunteers move family back into home after a foreclosure eviction on the west side of Detroit. MECAWI and other organizations have been raising the demand for a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Community volunteers move foreclosure victim back into home
by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
Activist speaking at eviction reversal on April 17, 2008
Photo of people moving eviction victim back into home
DETROIT, April 21, 2008--A delegation of Detroit activists traveled to Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 to participate in the national demonstration called by the Ad Hoc Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions. The action took place outside the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Policy Summit held in a hotel just two blocks away from Capital Hill.
Many of the people who were outside the Washington Court Hotel on April 16 provided firsthand accounts of how their households and communities have been devastated by the mortgage banking crisis that has rendered at least 2 million dwellings vacant throughout the country.
Sandra Hines of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) told the security personnel and bankers standing outside the hotel where the summit was being held, that "you may think this is funny but this crisis impacts people everyday in the city of Detroit."
Hines, who is a former Detroit Public School Social Worker, ran a grassroots campaign for a district seat on the local school board and was subsequently evicted from her childhood home as a result of predatory lending.
As soon as the MECAWI delegation returned to Detroit on Thursday, April 17, a call went out about a young woman being evicted in the heavily depressed Linwood Corridor area on the city's west side. The homeowner has three children and a 84-year-old mother, whose wheelchair was thrown out of the home by thugs acting on behalf of the Wayne County baliffs who enforce the mortgage banker's evictions against hundreds of families through the region everyday. It is estimated that approximately 72,000 homes are in foreclosure in southeastern Michigan alone.
Around 50 activists went to the young woman's home and took the furniture, appliances, clothes, family photos and documents and moved them back into the house. These household items had been drug out of the home and thrown violently into a dumpster parked outside the property.
Furniture and appliances were broken in the eviction process. Food bought for the children living at the home was thrown out. Telephone lines were ripped out and a bathroom sink was knocked from the wall and thrown outside in the yard by the agents hired to carry out the bidding of the mortgage bankers, who incidently are represented by a Wall Street-based security's firm.
Community meeting to build broad coalition
As a result of the national demonstration in Washington, DC and the announcement by Michigan State Senator Hansen Clarke that he would introduce legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures in the state, MECAWI called for a meeting to press for the formation of a broader coalition to push for the passage of the bill.
The meeting was attended by State Senator Hansen Clarke and members of his staff along with other community activists in the areas of housing, religion, education and labor. Rev. Edward Rowe, Pastor of the Central United Methodist Church, where the meeting was held in downtown Detroit, pledged office space to house the new coalition which constituted itself as the Moratorium Now Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions.
Coalition committees were established in the areas of eviction reversals, legal strategies, publicity, outreach and office staffing. Data is being accumulated on city councils, county commissions, community organizations and other institutions throughout the Detroit metropolitan area and the state. This data will be utilized in a massive mobilization campaign to win the moratorium.
Atty. Jerome Goldberg, who along with another lawyer Vanessa Fluker, discussed the persistent efforts on the part of the mortgage bankers to drive thousands from their homes in the region.
"This moratorium will not be won through traditional lobbying but will be achieved through putting people in the streets throughout the state and at the capital in Lansing," said David Sole, President of UAW Local 2334. Sole, who commited himself to work on the outreach committee for the new coalition, said that seven homes were vacant as a result of foreclosure on his block alone on the east side of the city.
A follow-up meeting of the Moratorium Now Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions will be held on Saturday, May 3 at 3:00pm at Central United Methodist Church. By this time the activist are aiming to have set up the office at the Church with a phone and donated equipment. The office will be staffed by a team of volunteers.