By Cliff Bailey
Along with the explosion in foreclosures, an equally explosive movement
is developing to keep people in their homes — no matter what. This
burgeoning movement of desperate homeowners to stay put has caught the
attention of grassroots organizations and of politicians everywhere.
One in almost every 500 housing units is now in foreclosure. That’s
close to a quarter million foreclosures in January alone. An increase
of 18% over last year. That’s over three million new foreclosures just
this year. That’s three million homeless families — homeless if they
follow the rules of the capitalist class that got us in this mess in
the first place
It is no surprise that people are squatting or breaking into vacant
houses. They need a place to live — any place. This is particularly
true in Rust Belt cities where the loss of manufacturing jobs has
pushed people to the brink.
An example of this is Sheriff Thomas Dart, in Cook County, Illinois.
Sheriff Dart announced he would not evict innocent people from their
homes anymore. He suspended foreclosure evictions in Cook
County. Renters were being evicted from their apartments because
the landlord had fallen behind on mortgage payments and their building
went into foreclosure.
In February, the group ACORN responded to the plight of thousands by
launching “Home Defenders”, which will help homeowners stay put in
their foreclosed homes, or in some cases, will help them move back in.
Bertha Lewis, ACORN’S chief organizer, said in an interview.
“Politicians have helped banks, but they haven’t helped families in the
way that it’s needed, and these families are now saying, enough is
Representative Marcy Kaptur, Toledo, Ohio said on the floor of the
House “Stay in your homes.” “So I say to the American people, you
be squatters in your own homes. Don’t you leave.” This in response to a
mountain of letters, emails and phone calls from people who are about
to be put out on the street.
In Wayne County, Michigan, which includes Detroit, Sheriff Warren C.
Evans suspended all evictions until the federal government implements a
plan to help homeowners facing foreclosures. Evans said he’s reviewed
federal laws and concluded that continuing weekly foreclosure sales
conflicts with a recently enacted law (TARP) that protects homeowners.
In Butler County, Ohio another hard hit Rust Belt city, Sheriff Richard
K. Jones ordered his deputies not to evict people who had no place else
to go. “This is a cold place in the winter and I will not give people a
death sentence for not paying their debts,” Sheriff Jones said in an
With the help of neighbors and friends even individual homeowners are
standing up to the banks and saying enough is enough. For instance,
Myrna Millington, 73, who lives in Laurelton, Queens was foreclosed on
in September but refused to leave. “I may lose my home, but I’m only
leaving in handcuffs,” Ms. Millington said.
Stay in your home! Enough is enough. If you are in or about to be in
foreclosure, get help. Enlist the help of your neighbors. Contact your
church and other local groups. They can help. Call your Representative.
Don’t allow the fat cats to put you out on the street without a fight.
Others are doing it. So can you. Add yours to the millions of voices
clamoring for the government to provide housing. It is your right!