“During a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Kyra Williams like many had a dream of home ownership. She worked out a lease agreement with her landlord which she was paid rent with an option to buy the property. Kyra had paid a significant amount of money in rent to the landlord. 25% of the monthly payment was being collected for the purchase of the property. Faithfully, she made the payments, kept the property in good repair, and loved and cared for her home.
When she received a notice of an eviction hearing dated for December 21st, unknown to her, the landlord had defaulted on the mortgage with CitiMortgage. She explained her situation to the lender and CitiMortgage agreed to sell her the property. She provided proof of funding and made repairs in accordance to the agreement. As she was neared the final approval instead of a closing date she received a message that CitiMortgage changed its mind and was moving forward with the eviction. No explanation other than a writ of eviction had already been signed and she could be evicted at anytime.
That’s when organizations like Moratorium Now, Occupy Our Homes, and Occupy Detroit became involved. They set up an event on December 6th to coincide with Occupy Wall Street’s National Day of Action to bring attention to Ms. William’s situation and to other families who are also in similar circumstances.
I am happy to report that the community’s involvement had a positive effect. Ms. Williams received a call yesterday morning from Citibank stating that they would work with her to keep her in the home. We will me monitoring the progress and keep Citibank accountable to their word.
This was not the first success. Ms. Belva Davis had similar circumstances. For two years she fought to remain in her home. She applied for every program offered and was deemed ineligible for every one of them. Her lawyer, Jerry Goldberg, helped her with the court proceedings without success. It wasn’t until the community became involved that the bank finally agreed to work with Ms. Davis. She is still living in her home under the new arrangement with the bank.
Now another family needs help. Debbie and Rob Henry from Southgate, a suburb of Detroit are facing foreclosure. The original date was set for December 23rd. Since it was the holidays Fannie Mae generously extended the eviction date to January 2nd. Sarcasm was intended in the last sentence.
They have lived in their home for seven years. In 2008, Debbie had a stroke that impaired her enough to prevent her from returning to her old job. The recovery time coupled with the change in her earning capacity caused them to be unable to meet the mortgage obligation. They went to the bank to see if they could modify their mortgage and were told with each subsequent program that they were ineligible.
Their original mortgage was with Countrywide which was then bought by Bank of America. Bank of America was given bail out money to help families like the Henrys. However, instead of utilizing those funds for those programs instead they gave their top executives lavish bonuses. They sold the obligations to Fannie Mae for a profit. So not only did taxpayers give BofA a bail out they are also paying again for the mortgages through Fannie Mae. Now Fannie Mae is foreclosing on families like the Henrys.
Moratorium Now, Occupy Our Homes, and Occupy Detroit will be in Southgate on January 2nd in protest. It is their hope that they will be able to successfully prevent the eviction and encourage Fannie Mae to work with the Henry’s on a solution that will help them to remain in their home.
As I was walking through the crowd of nearly 100 individuals, I spoke to one of the Henry’s neighbors. He was there with his young son. He was a blue collar worker wearing a baseball cap and a winter jacket, just your average guy. He said, “I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t know if I’m making a difference or not. But the Henry’s are good neighbors and if this helps, then I can do this.”
The thread that binds these three families together is the community. No system no matter how corrupt can oppress a community when they decide to come together to do what is right. When the system failed them, the community did not. The lesson here is that apathy is not an option. We cannot sit idly by and watch when injustices occur. We must continue to have the courage to stand up for the truth, for what is right and know that we are not alone in this fight.