Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Community, Neighbors Come to the Defense of Jennifer Britt

Community, Neighbors Come to the Defense of Jennifer Britt and Family

Vigil outside home in Detroit pledges to stop eviction by Fannie Mae

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

For the second presidential election cycle, the issue of home foreclosures and evictions is still plaguing people throughout the United States. Since 2007, the world economic crisis inside the leading capitalist states have displaced millions and drained trillions of dollars in home values, tax revenues and jobs from working people and oppressed communities.

In Detroit, where the contemporary struggle for a moratorium against foreclosures began five years ago through the efforts of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) and later the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs that was formed in 2008, the city is still being devastated by the banks and now a government-controlled entity, Fannie Mae. Atty. Jerome Goldberg, who is a longtime defender of people under threat of losing their homes, says that today, Fannie Mae is the leading agency in throwing people out of their homes with direct taxpayer subsidization.

This point was made clear at a press conference held at the home of Jennifer Britt who lives on Detroit’s northwest side in the Rosedale Park neighborhood. Rosedale Park is still considered one of the more stable areas in Detroit, but that image is rapidly changing with people like Britt fighting to save their homes from the predatory actions of the banks and Fannie Mae.

The press conference outside Britt’s home coincided with a vigil that began on July 19 where over 100 people have set up a “human shield” to prevent the court ordered dumpster and eviction crews from invading her home, trashing it and throwing her, her family, pets and belongings out into the streets.

Congressman Hansen Clarke, who has authored and introduced the most comprehensive bill calling for a three year moratorium on foreclosures in the U.S. Congress, spoke at the gathering demanding that Fannie Mae reach an acceptable agreement with Britt and to immediately impose a 90-day moratorium on evictions.

Britt, a widow, who had inherited the mortgage serviced by Flagstar Bank when her husband died, was not allowed to re-negotiate the terms of the contract. After paying over $45,000 in mortgage payments and fees to Flagstar, she was told that since her name was not on the house the bank would not discuss the terms.

Her home was sold at a Sheriff’s auction in 2010 and Fannie Mae, under the auspices of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, assumed control of the property. Fannie Mae was bailed out and taken over by the federal government at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Consequently, Britt is being evicted by a directly taxpayer-funded entity.

Fannie Mae Determined to Evict and Seize Home

Many other efforts have been made by Britt to salvage the home, but to no avail. In 2009, Britt refused to continue to pay money to Flagstar since it was not going toward saving the property.

An eviction order was signed on July 18 by Judge Nancy Blount of 36th District Court. In addition to significant community support by Occupy Detroit Eviction Defense Committee, UAW Local 600, Moratorium NOW! Coalition, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and others, these groups working as a coalition, have issued thousands of leaflets and brochures, held demonstrations against Flagstar and are now maintaining a robust home defense of the Britt property.

U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan have intervened in the effort and have called up Fannie Mae demanding that a resolution be found. A local agency, Southwest Housing Solutions, agreed to purchase the home from Fannie Mae for a reasonable market-valued price.

However, Fannie Mae is demanding no less than $121,000 which is way above the actual market value of the home. Housing values in Detroit and around the country have dropped precipitously over the last few years due to the foreclosure epidemic and the collapse of the mortgage industry.

At the July 23 press conference several people spoke up in defense of Britt calling for Fannie Mae to relinquish control of the home to her. Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church in downtown Detroit said that “the federal government through Fannie Mae should not be evicting us from our homes.”

Jerome Jackson, a man living with a disability confining him to a wheelchair since he was 14, spoke out in defense of Britt. Jackson of Inkster, a suburb of Detroit, is also facing foreclosure after Wayne County Community Living Services reneged on a subsidized mortgage deal. Jackson was given a 60-day adjournment by the district court in Inkster but no long term solution to his situation has been found.

Joe McGuire of Occupy Detroit Eviction Defense spoke out at the press conference stressing the need for people to be at the home on July 24, a date that may signify a push by Fannie Mae to carry out the eviction. People at the home were maintaining their vigilance through doing community outreach and keeping the press and people throughout the city abreast of developments.

Moratorium NOW! Coalition Calls for Executive Order to Halt Foreclosures

A banner made by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition was held at the press conference which demanded that President Obama issue an executive order to impose a halt to foreclosures in the U.S. With the ongoing economic crisis and no improvement in job growth, household income and the increasing rate of poverty, a moratorium on foreclosures through executive order would be designed to provide relief to people throughout the country facing imminent eviction.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition is mobilizing people as well as to participate in the March on Wall Street South to be held outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in early September. Charlotte, a center of finance capital, will be the scene of activists from all over the country who will draw attention to the source of the capitalist crisis, the financial institutions and their economic allies including Fannie Mae.

The struggle against foreclosures and for a moratorium is growing throughout the country. Demonstrations and home defenses are beingheld on a regular basis in various states and cities from Michigan, to California, Rhode Island and other areas of the U.S.

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