The economic crisis started with home foreclosures, and the numbers are getting worse. According to the Center for Responsible Lending (CLR), a non-partisan research and policy group, some 6,600 homes are foreclosed every day: one every 13 seconds. Experts agree that helping homeowners is key to helping the entire economy.
Writing at Congress Matters, David Waldman, aka Kagro X, says new numbers from CLR show that projected foreclosures by congressional district are concentrated in five states: California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. In fact, there’s not a congressional district in the top 50 that isn’t in one of these five states. The most troubled districts are represented by Republicans, he reports. Republicans hold just over 40 percent of the seats in the House, but represent 60 percent of the top 10 most troubled districts.
And he debunks another myth about foreclosures:
Finally, it should perhaps be noted that despite the claims of many conservatives that the bulk of risky loans, and therefore the bulk of foreclosures, were associated with minority borrowers. Congressional districts with the highest concentrations of racial minorities do not appear to be represented in disproportionate numbers at the top of this list.
Check here to see new foreclosures by state.
The CLR analysis comes after the Obama administration last week unveiled its “Making Home Affordable” plan, a $75 billion loan modification program that could assist as many as 9 million homeowners.
Also last week, the House passed H.R. 1106, which makes it easier to get court relief on mortgages for financially distressed homeowners. CLR President Michael Calhoun praised the House action:
We applaud lawmakers in the House for passing legislation that is a crucial piece of the broader White House plan to stem foreclosures. The need to put the economy before politics couldn’t be clearer. In 2008, more than a million families joined the ranks of borrowers in default on their mortgage, half of them in the last three months of the year.
Damon Silvers, a member of the congressional oversight committee and AFL-CIO associate general counsel, pointed out that massive foreclosures launched a chain of events
that leads to falling property values, collapsed mega banks, trillion-dollar government bailouts, frozen credit markets, 401-K meltdowns, political crises in foreign countries, closed factories, lost jobs from here to China and back.
No one benefits from home foreclosures, Silvers says. Foreclosed homes typically yield less than 40 cents on the dollar to lenders, while destabilizing neighborhoods and driving down real estate values. He says the nation needs to act now to reform the mortgage and banking systems. President Obama has proposed “spending real money to help homeowners in trouble.”
Across the country, advocacy groups such as ACORN and political leaders are urging homeowners to fight back against Wall Street and protect their homes.
In a recent interview on the Pacifica news show, “Democracy Now,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) urged homeowners facing eviction to stay in their homes and seek legal help.
The most important thing to do is to get legal help. And what we are finding is that if people receive a notice from a financial institution, their first reaction is fear, rather than getting proper legal representation. There’s a number people can call: 888-995-HOME—to get the proper legal representation, so they can actually have the scales of justice be balanced rather than, now, all the power to Wall Street and none of the justice to Main Street.
If you believe that Wall Street has been deceptive, could have been fraudulent or tried to dupe the public…you need a lawyer. And you should stay in your home. It is your castle. It’s more than a piece of property. It’s your home.
Click here to read a transcript of the interview.
Last month, ACORN members in eight cities kicked off the organization’s Home Staying campaign, a new tactic to fight the foreclosure crisis. Teams of “ACORN Home Defenders”—volunteers from local communities—are employing civil disobedience as needed to help people who have faced foreclosure to stay in their homes until a comprehensive federal solution has been put in place.
ACORN also is staging protests across the country outside courthouses, where eviction hearings are going on, and providing counseling and support for homeowners who face eviction.
Maude Hurd, president of ACORN, says:
Finally, the federal government is telling Wall Street that everyday Americans need to get something back for their largesse, and that help will come in the form of rational foreclosure policies. Of course, providing more modifications and starting fewer unnecessary foreclosures will help investors as well as families, neighborhoods, and our economy. This new announcement is far from a bailout for homeowners—it is merely a requirement that the mortgage servicing industry do the job it is supposed to do. The entire industry must embrace these protocols and begin applying them right away.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports the housing crisis is hitting military families particularly hard. Many military couples who bought during the housing boom and must now relocate because of a base closing or transfer are faced with selling their homes at a big loss. Congress included language in the economic stimulus package to compensate service members who sell their home at a loss or have been foreclosed upon because they were forced to move after a base closure, reassignment or a combat wound required them to be relocated near a health facility. The program also covers surviving spouses of those killed in combat.