Notes from the Housing Front

Yeah, it’s a little over the top nowadays to use incendiary metaphors when telling of our battles for social and economic justice, but when a SWAT team shows up cocked, locked, and ready to rock Grandma outta her home, what do you expect?  Also, we celebrate some good news from Hempstead Village on Long Island.

Catherine Lennon lives in Rochester, NY in a home she shared with her kids and grandkids.  She was more than willing to make mortgage payments on her property, but Countrywide/BankAmerica refused these payments because the house was not in her name.  You see: Her husband had the mortgage and the property in his name, but he passed away three years back.  From brain cancer.  Unfortunately, he didn’t leave a will.

Now, a reasonable business might hold off on foreclosure proceedings while the widow Catherine settled her beloved’s affairs, established herself as her husband’s heir, and got her name on the deed to the property where she’s lived for the last 10 years.  Unfortunately, “reasonable business” and “bank” no longer belong in the same sentence.  They kept their foreclosure procedures spinning, and even rejected Catherine’s attempts to get her mortgage current, and then when all else failed seized the widow’s home by force.

We at NYCC have been watching this mortgage and housing crisis unfold for years.  We noticed when these lenders came into our neighborhoods with their snake oil and pie in the sky terms.  We noticed how the same banks who took The People’s Money when it suited their needs. And we sure noticed when they refused to extend the same helping hand they got from the US Government to our friends and neighbors when the mortgages they peddled back in 2006 turned sour just a few years later.

Our friends in Hempstead Village, as a matter of fact, just won us a nice victory over BofA’s “too big to fail” blood-brother, JP Morgan Chase.  This village is on Long Island, where the foreclosure rate is 4X the rate of the surrounding county, and the village leaders got tired of seeing their friends move away, their neighbors’s home stand empty, and their communities crumble.  On Tuesday, Hempstead Village pulled their accounts from Chase, ending a 30-year relationship with the bank, and stood firmly with their friends and neighbors in solidarity against the brokers, bankers, and money managers of Wall Street.

We’re still working towards the day when our neighbors stay put, and our communities stay strong.  Until then, we’re asking our friends and neighbors to join with us, however they can, and stand up for our communities and against those who prey on our friends and neighbors.  There may be more days ahead where our friends suffer the same fate as Catherine did, but the more of us who join together, the more days we’ll have where we celebrate good news like what came out of Hempstead Village.  And that’s why we need your help.

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About NYCC Capital Region

News, views, and activities from your favorite community organization, New York Communities for Change; with a distinctive Albany flavor.
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