Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fight Against Banks Stop Detroit Foreclosures

Fight against banks stops Detroit foreclosures

By Kris Hamel
Published Dec 18, 2008 9:36 PM

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions called protests to demand justice for Detroit homeowners Lorene Parker and Belva Davis. The people’s struggle against the banks and predatory lenders resulted in important victories for the two.

On Dec. 10, about 75 protesters, including trade unionists, students and youth, converged on Bank of America in downtown Detroit. They were outraged that the bank, a recipient of $25 billion from the recent federal bank bailout, was moving forward to foreclose on the home of Lorene Parker.

Parker, 52, is a cardiovascular nurse and has lived in her Detroit home for ten years. Several years ago, a possible viral infection caused her heart to fail. At the same time, her liver was compromised because she contracted hepatitis C from a needle stick at work.

Parker made history in 2006 when she became the first double transplant patient at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. She received a new heart and liver during an 11-hour operation.

Because of her disability after major surgery and mounting medical bills, Parker was unable to keep up with her mortgage payments to Bank of America. For the past several months she had diligently tried to contact bank representatives in order to explain her situation and have her loan modified. She got nowhere.

Parker contacted people’s attorney Vanessa Fluker of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition. At the Dec. 6 coalition conference in Detroit, Parker described her plight and the group called a protest at Bank of America on Dec. 10. The bank had scheduled a sheriff’s sale of Parker’s home on Dec. 11.

The demonstration to support Parker was also in solidarity with UE workers occupying the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago and to press Bank of America to comply with these workers’ demands. Parker’s foreclosure fight against Bank of America was included in leaflets and signs in many cities around the U.S. at demonstrations in support of the Chicago plant takeover.

With signs and banners, the demonstrators kept up a militant lunchtime picket line outside the bank’s office at the Guardian Building. “Bailout the people, not the banks!” was a prominent chant.

When Parker and Fluker went inside to demand to speak with a Bank of America official and security guards accompanied them onto the elevator, demonstrators seized the opportunity to pour into the building’s lobby. They occupied it for fifteen minutes, chanting loudly, and left before police arrived.

Afterwards, Detroit police confiscated the coalition’s bullhorn and threatened to ticket organizer Jerry Goldberg for disorderly conduct. Goldberg was shown on television yelling, “Why are you harassing us? It’s Bank of America you should be arresting!” Protesters chanted loudly to get the bullhorn back from the cops, who eventually relented and returned it without ticketing anyone.

The protest and Parker’s case received widespread media coverage, including the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Michigan Citizen, Reuters news service, and radio and Fox TV-2. A documentary film crew from Traverse City, Mich., covered the protest and interviewed participants.

On Dec. 11, the day after the demonstration, Bank of America called off the sheriff’s sale of Parker’s home and wrote her attorney that the foreclosure was postponed until Jan. 22. The next day, the bank cancelled the foreclosure and put in writing a loan modification that will allow Parker to stay in her home. Parker signed the agreement Dec. 12.

Workers World asked Parker about the struggle to save her home. “It’s very important for people to know about this coalition,” she said. “I informed all my friends and coworkers that they need to get involved. Without the group and numbers the banks are not going to listen to people. The more people we have the better.”

Parker continued: “Even though my situation is under control, I am still going to be involved. I definitely support a two-year moratorium on foreclosures and I don’t see why it wasn’t done when the crisis started. If anything it’s too late—look how many people have already lost their homes.”

Rally to stop eviction

Immediately following the coalition’s conference on Dec. 6, over 50 activists descended on the eastside home of Belva Davis for a neighborhood rally to stop her imminent eviction.

Davis went through a period of job loss and reduced income and fell behind on her mortgage payments. After finding a decent-paying job, she contacted her servicer, Ocwen Financial, and asked for a loan forbearance or modification. It refused.

Davis’s loan is owned by a Wall Street securitization fund—HSBC Bank USA, NA, as trustee on behalf of ACE Securities Corporation Home Equity Loan Trust and for the registered holders of ACE Securities Corporation Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2006-ASAP6, Asset Backed-Through Certificates. This 36-word entity holds Davis’s loan and refused to reinstate her mortgage unless she gave them $19,000 in cash up front.

Attorney and organizer Jerry Goldberg represented Davis in a court hearing to stop the eviction. Goldberg told Workers World, “Section 1403 of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act—which bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—mandates that a servicer do a loan modification or workout agreement if the net-value result would be greater than the net value of the home sold under foreclosure.”

Property values in Detroit have plummeted because of the foreclosure epidemic. On Davis’s block alone, homes that sold for $150,000 five years ago have recently sold for as little as $12,000 after foreclosure.

At the Dec. 12 hearing, the lender asked for a judgment of possession to evict Davis, but the judge refused. Instead, she ordered the lender to enter negotiations for a loan modification. The court set a Feb. 2 hearing if the workout is not resolved by then.

According to Goldberg: “This is one case to test the viability of HERA to protect homeowners as a defense against evictions and foreclosures. Section 1403 applies to every foreclosure in securitized mortgages. This offers the potential to further challenge many illegal foreclosures and evictions and keep more people in their homes.”
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Page printed from:

1 comment:

beachdude said...

Loan modification is a process whereby a home owner's mortgage is modified and both the lender and homeowner are bound by the new terms of the new mortgage.

The most common loan modifications are listed below:

• lowering the mortgage interest rate
• reducing the mortgage principal balance
• fixing adjustable interest rates within the mortgage
• increasing the loan term throughout the mortgage
• forgiveness of payment defaults and fees
• or any combination of the above

Check out this Public site at