Stop banks from taking our homes!
Detroit protest demands moratorium on foreclosures
Published Dec 2, 2007 11:00 PM
Demonstrators in downtown Detroit on Nov. 27 demanded a moratorium on home
foreclosures. They were picketing outside a summit on foreclosures hosted by
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and attended by mayors from across the U.S.
Detroit, Nov. 27, outside mayors’ meeting
WW photo: Cheryl LaBash
The summit came the same day a Detroit News article exposed that 72,000 homes
went into foreclosure in metropolitan Detroit over the last two years. Some
Detroit neighborhoods had foreclosure rates of 17 percent.
The mayors’ conference was closed to the public but open to the banks and
financial institutions. These same banks and financial institutions have
brought on the housing crisis with their predatory lending practices and racist
sub-prime mortgages. In fact, the only proposal emanating from this summit was
that the mortgage lenders’ association would set up a hot line for people
in foreclosure—in other words, the mayors are relying on the vultures to
help their prey.
In contrast, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice
(MECAWI), organizers of the moratorium demonstration, demanded that Michigan
Gov. Granholm and governors throughout the country immediately declare states
of emergency in their respective states and use their emergency powers under
the law to place a moratorium to halt all foreclosures. MECAWI organizers point
out that such a moratorium on foreclosures was enacted in Michigan and 24 other
states during the 1930s and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme
The MECAWI protest and the call for a moratorium on foreclosures was covered by
the Detroit daily newspapers, the Michigan Citizen, Detroit’s progressive
African-American newspaper, TV 2 Fox news, and given extensive play on
Detroit’s all-news radio station. Significantly, in press coverage of the
mayors’ summit and demonstration, Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick was heard
acknowledging that he is for a moratorium on foreclosures and plans to take the
issue to Lansing, the state capital. Activists plan to hold the mayor to his
MECAWI is planning a community organizing meeting on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 1:00
p.m., at Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, in Detroit at Grand
Circus Park. The meeting will discuss building a fightback movement with
demonstrations and militant actions to press for a moratorium on foreclosures
and utility shut-offs, as well as educate people about their legal rights to
challenge predatory loans.
The Detroit News article noted that the Detroit foreclosure rate, which was
already at an all-time record in January 2006, has jumped six-fold since then.
There are some Detroit neighborhoods where one in seven homes received a
foreclosure notice between January 2006 and September 2007. One in ten Detroit
homes has had a foreclosure notice in that time period.
More than one million homes in metro Detroit, which comes to two out of three
households, are worth less today because their value has been damaged by nearby
foreclosures. Over 10 percent of Detroit’s population is potentially
facing imminent homelessness. Thousands face a winter with no heat, water or
Coupled with the economic devastation that has hit the people of Michigan, the
foreclosure crisis in Detroit is a direct product of the racist, predatory
lending practices of the banks and financial institutions. In Detroit, 85
percent of mortgages are “sub-prime,” meaning that they are at a
much higher rate than the 6-percent rate for “prime” mortgages.
Most of the mortgages are variable adjustable rate mortgages, meaning the
payments double or triple after the first couple of years.
Seniors who had paid off their homes now find themselves with unaffordable
monthly payments, as a result of being lured into unaffordable, illegal
home-equity loans by brokers working on behalf of the financial institutions.
Studies have documented that even among women, African Americans and Latin@s
with good credit, sub-prime mortgages are the rule due to racist and sexist
Three separate Michigan statutes—MCL 10.31 et.seq., 10.85 et.seq. and
30.401 et.seq.—mandate that the governor declare a state of emergency
during periods of crisis, natural or “man-made,” and provide
special powers to meet the crisis. MECAWI is demanding that Gov. Granholm
utilize these emergency powers to impose an emergency moratorium to stop
foreclosures and utility shut-offs.
During the 1930s, the state legislature utilized its emergency powers to pass
the Mortgage Moratorium Act, Act No. 98, Pub. Acts 1933. The act extended the
redemption period during which homeowners could not have their property taken
from them after foreclosure, from six months to five years. The Michigan
Moratorium Act was upheld by the Michigan and U.S. Supreme courts.
For more information on the fight for a moratorium on foreclosures and utility
shut-offs, contact 313-319-0870 or visit www.mecawi.org.
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