Homeowners Strike Back

Underwhelmed by government, communities, organizations (like ACORN) and ad-hoc citizen's groups are coming together to fight back against foreclosures.
January 26, 2009, 11am PST | Michael Dudley
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"Community-based movements to halt the flood of foreclosures have been building across the country. In Philadelphia ACORN and other community organizations helped to pressure the city council to order the county sheriff to halt foreclosure auctions this past March. Philadelphia has since implemented a program mandating 'conciliation conferences' between defaulting homeowners and lenders. ACORN organizers say the program has a 78 percent success rate at keeping people in their homes. One activist group in Miami has taken a more direct approach to the crisis, housing homeless families in abandoned bank-owned homes without waiting for government permission.

By mid-October 2007, the government's only response to the foreclosure crisis had been the creation of the Hope Now alliance, a voluntary mortgage-industry coalition that established a telephone hot line to aid homeowners in altering the terms of their mortgages. But, critics say, the program has done little more than design repayment plans that in many cases actually increased borrowers' monthly payments.

Much of the local organizing on the issue, though, has not come from the usual activist suspects. Circumstances have forced groups that usually practice more staid forms of engagement into the fray, particularly in the former industrial towns just beyond the urban fringe, which have been among those hit hardest by the economic collapse. "

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Published on Friday, January 23, 2009 in The Nation
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