Foreclosing of America: The crisis continues
26 Jan, 2011 19:42
Struggling Americans are going to great lengths to save their homes in the face of a worsening economic crisis.
As Wall Street boasts record profits and Washington insists we are firmly on the road to economic recovery, millions of Americans still have that sinking feeling, worried they’ll soon lose the roof over their head.“It’s hard to sleep, I can’t eat, I can’t make plans because you don’t know if the next week you’re going to get a letter that says you have to go,” said homeowner Jose Rodriguez.He is one of thousands of people who camped out in front of the Los Angeles Sports Arena to line up for a mortgage help clinic, a last ditch effort for simply trying to keep their homes.Rodriguez fell behind on his mortgage after his wife became sick and medical bills flooded in.“Maybe 500 people made bad decisions or maybe a thousand people. But when you see 5 thousand people out here, you know it’s not just people making bad decisions,” said Bruce Marks, founder of Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. “It was a racketeering scheme that really put people in a position to fail.”And fail they did. A record 2.9 million homes went into foreclosure in 2010.Yet Realty Trac, an online market for foreclosures, warns that figure may jump by 20 percent this year.Many lost homes are due to lost jobs, as high unemployment persists in California and across the nation. “These banks and government look at people as numbers,” said Marks.“They should come out here in the early morning hours to see people freezing in tents just to save their homes,” Marks added.Desperate homeowners are fighting back.In December, hundreds of protesters tried to move into the lobby of a Chase Bank branch in downtown Los Angeles, as a way to shed light on the foreclosure crisis.22 people were arrested, including an 85 year old woman. They may have sent a message, but many see it as a lost cause, a view reinforced by the recent appointment of William Daley as the president’s Chief of Staff.Daley is a former executive at JP Morgan Chase, a major mortgage lender.“Big companies are taking over our country.That’s my feeling and I don’t know much about the economy,” said Rodriguez as he stood in line waiting for help in modifying his home loan.You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to figure out that with big business playing a bigger role in the White House; it is unlikely the help to stop the foreclosing of America will come anytime soon.Nomi Prins, a senior fellow at Demos and the author of "It Takes a Pillage" said the term “foreclosure” is disappearing from US politics, it was even absent for the State of The Union address because many are afraid to address the reality of the housing market. “Foreclosures are sort of the ugliness that really is at the core of how a lot of the institutions made their money,” she explained. “The people that are facing foreclosure, that have faced foreclosure, we’re talking about 8 million families, not even people, but families that have already gone through the process, others in the process. An expectation of 4 million more families to face foreclosure over the next 2 years of this administration and all of that is something that Obama doesn’t want to address and Washington has largely stopped addressing.”She explained America is still in crisis, not the banks or the firms, but the American people and middle class. “Nothing has been fixed,” Prins said. The banking industry was saved by the government and their crisis has passed. The government on the other hand has not helped the people, has not bailed out American citizens. “There is this dislocation,” she remarked. “The reality is that jobs are not being created in the country, the student loan debt for example is higher than it has ever been, foreclosures are continuing to increase, defaults are increasing, credit card fees on top of credit card debt continue to increase and there is no operation, there is no legislation, there is no reform being put forth to address this.”