Protecting Renters from the Foreclosure Crisis

Renters are the hidden victims of the foreclosure crisis: they are usually the last to know about foreclosure, have few resources to assist them and are being overlooked by federal interventions. But community organizers are fighting back.
March 20, 2009, 10am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"The United States is in the midst of a national foreclosure crisis that threatens to wreak havoc not just on homeowners, but also tenants, urban neighborhoods, and entire cities. Community organizers and legal activists are working hard to stop it.

Foreclosures aren't just pushing owners into the street. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, renters make up an estimated 40% of families facing eviction because of foreclosure. And because the shakiest loans are concentrated in inner cities, the impact of vacant buildings on already fragile neighborhoods can be devastating.

Lenders and lawmakers have been slow to respond to this growing crisis. The Obama administration's mortgage rescue plan announced in February offers limited help to some individual homeowners at risk of foreclosure, but almost completely overlooks the plight of renters in foreclosed buildings. Families facing eviction are left to fend for themselves, often with little understanding of their legal rights or other options. But an array of community organizers and legal advocates have been pushing back-organizing tenants, pressuring policymakers and lenders, and throwing wrenches into the legal system."

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Published on Thursday, March 19, 2009 in Dollars and Sense
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